Republicans across Ireland last weekend gathered at graveyards and at memorials don the Easter lily and remember Ireland’s patriot dead.
Sinn Féin held the vast majority of events, which saw clear and renewed commitment from its supporters in the face of a campaign of demonisation and marginalisation from mainstream political parties and media.
Celebrating Sinn Féin’s 100th anniversary, as well as the 89th anniversary of the 1916 Rising, thousands of party members campaigned under the theme of ‘no criminalisation’.
At Dublin’s main parade, the party’s Chief Negotiator, Martin McGuinness, spoke of the heroes of 1916 and of how the party’s opponents would always “grasp every opportunity to undermine and discredit our struggle.
“We must always be vigilant and cognisant of the fact that the stronger we get politically, the more we threaten the cosy cartel that has abused its grip on the levers of power in this state since partition,” he said.
Speaking in Derry, and dealing with the killing of Robert McCartney, Sinn Féin President Gerry Adams said; “What annoys me the most is not the criticism from the two governments, our political opponents, or those sections of the media who are clearly delighted to have a go at us. We are used to that and we can take it.
“What annoys me the most is that a small group of individuals are not prepared to face up to their responsibilities. Instead, these cowardly individuals will allow an avalanche of propaganda aimed at criminalising republicanism.”
Sinn Féin supporters were also prepared for new negotiations following the British general election, and were warned that new strategies may be required to achieve republican goals in the months and years ahead.
Meanwhile, republican hardliners have hit out at the Good Friday Agreement during their Easter commemorations. Ruairi O Bradaigh, president of Republican Sinn Féin (RSF), said that seven years after the agreement was signed “it still has not worked”.
“But the endeavour to get the entire body of nationalists to endorse and administer English rule here continues,” he said.
“True republicans insist that the British government and its occupation forces must give a date for disengagement and then the whole Irish people, acting as a unit, can determine how they will live together and govern themselves.”
Mr O Bradaigh was speaking at an RSF ceremony in Derry City Cemetery yesterday. He also called on the British government to leave Ireland.
Meanwhile, the Irish Republican Socialist Party (IRSP) claimed the republicanism was “in crisis”.
“[It] is floundering and seems to be coming more and more detached from reality,” Andy Gallagher said during the IRSP’s ceremony at Milltown Cemetery in west Belfast.
“The generic term republicanism has been sullied not just in the past few months but in the past number of years by spin doctoring, by blatant and persistent lying, by cover-ups and clean-ups worthy of the mafia,” he told those in attendance.
He said the Good Friday Agreement has been a “defeat” for the republican movement.
“All that has happened since 1998 has strengthened partition,” he said.
“Sectarianism has raged like a virus throughout many working-class areas and instead of unity we have even more divisions than ever,” he added.
Mr Gallagher also said capitalism has led to greater inequality across the world as well as in Ireland.
Meanwhile, in a statement of its prisoners of war, the INLA -- the armed group linkd to the IRSP -- called for class struggle to defeat British rule.
“Seven years on since the signing of the GFA, what has changed? Westminister maintains direct rule. The British Army still patrol our streets, their intelligence service still operates clandestine operations, they continue to maintain and update their military installations.
“Sectarian clashes have increased and there is still no real justice or equality for the republican/nationalist community. Dessie O’Hare continues to be held as a political hostage by the Free State government who has reneged on its commitments under the GFA and republican prisoners in Maghaberry are denied recognition of their political status which was won because of the sacrifice of the hunger strikers in ‘81.
“Comrades, it is time for us in the Republican Socialist Movement to take stock of where we are and where we are going, and how best to prepare politically and organisationally for the next phase, which will be our struggle, i.e. the class struggle.”