Irish Republican News · October 24, 2005
[Irish Republican News]

[Irish Republican News]
Ahern parades claim to republicanism

The announcement that a military parade by the 26-County army will be held to commemorate next year’s 1916 Easter Rising has been greeted with scepticism by Irish republicans.

Speaking at his Fianna Fail party’s annual conference, Taoiseach Bertie Ahern said the parade would not only commemorate those who died in the Easter Rising and the War of Independence but would also reaffirm the South’s republican ideals.

However, the move is being seen as a desperate attempt by Mr Ahern to cheer his party’s grassroots following a series of scandals over his coalition government’s waste and incompetence.

Claiming the legacy of the Rising of 1916 for Fianna Fail and the 26-County state, Ahern said: “Our defence forces -- the only legitimate army of the Irish people -- will parade to commemorate this historic event and their proud contribution in the service of the state.

“We in this state will proclaim our republicanism. We will recognise and praise the vision of the volunteers of 1916 and indeed the war of independence. We will show that our defence forces are the true successors of the volunteers.

“The Irish people need to reclaim the spirit of 1916, which is not the property of those who have abused and debased the title of republicanism.”

Ronnie Kasrils, the South African minister for intelligence who is visiting the North as a guest of Sinn Fein, said yesterday he was shocked to hear that the Taoiseach has been talking about reclaiming republicanism from those who have “abused and debased” it - meaning Sinn Fein and the IRA.

Mr Kasrils is visiting Ireland as a guest of Sinn Fein, and held a meeting with British Direct Ruler Peter Hain. It was “a most unfortunate statement,” he said.

“I could never accept that Sinn Fein has debased republicanism,” said Mr Kasrils. “They carried the flag of republicanism in the most difficult of times. We respect the Irish Government, but I would say that is sour grapes, and a sign they are feeling the pressure, with the growing popularity of Sinn Fein.

“The Irish struggle is a particularly heroic one.”


Meanwhile, Fianna Fail is not alone in its effort to be identified as the champion of republicanism in recent weeks.

Earlier this month opposition leader Enda Kenny announced his intention to commemorate the centenary of Sinn Fein’s founding. All three of Ireland’s largest political parties -- Ahern’s Fianna Fail, Gerry Adams’s (Provisional) Sinn Fein and Kenny’s Fine Gael -- trace their roots to the original Sinn Fein founded by Arthur’s Griffith.

In the North, SDLP leader Mark Durkan has also attempted to lay claim to the title of republicanism, declaring: “The SDLP is proud to call itself a party of true republicanism.”

The battle to lay claim to the mantle of Irish republicanism has clearly been brought about by rivals needing to stem the political rise of Sinn Fein.

it is expected that Sinn Fein will gain a number of seats in the next election in the 26 Counties, and could be in a position to share power in the South.

Sinn Fein’s Gerry Kelly welcomed the Dublin government’s announcement that those killed during the Easter Rising and War of Independence would now be remembered.

“I think it is only right that the government should at last remember our dead,” he said.

“However, I feel it is a pity they have deliberately chosen to ignore their memories for so long.

“People will not be fooled by what Fianna Fail, Fine Gael and the SDLP are trying to do.

“They chose to ignore the ideals of republicanism for decades and are now trying to rebrand themselves for political gain.

“The electorate will not be fooled by this tokenism and will know which party has stayed true to the republican ideal for so long.”

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© 2005 Irish Republican News