Several thousand people including relatives of republican Hunger Strikers gathered in County Tyrone on Sunday to mark the 28th anniversary of the prison protests.
As part of a weekend of events a rally and wreath-laying ceremony took place in the village of Galbally -- home of Martin Hurson, the sixth person to die in the 1981 fast.
Sinn Fein President Gerry Adams addressed the large crowd on the meaning of republicanism today.
“Activism for Irish republicans’ means being firmly rooted and active in our local community; ...and republican in our politics and motivation.
“...our objectives are about a better Ireland, a reunited Ireland, a new inclusive society - and a new national Republic based on equality, freedom and justice.”
Mr Adams also used the occasion to attack the Dublin government for its handling of the economy and support for the Lisbon Treaty.
“The Irish government... is a bad government, taking bad decisions, in the interests of its money lender friends in the banks and among the developers.
“The decisions that have been taken so far and the decisions likely to emerge out of the McCarthy report and in the budget later this year, amount to an attack on the most vulnerable and disadvantaged in society.
“Instead of taxing the wealthy the Irish government is slashing public services and jobs and beating up on the unemployed, the elderly, the children and the sick.”
The commemoration weekend included other events across the north.
The following is an extract from Mr Adams’s address at Galbally.
The republican struggle was not and is not about bums on seats in the Executive or Parliament Buildings or Leinster House or the EU or any other forum just for the sake of it!
Our representatives know this. They are about delivering. They are about using the political strength we have vested in them to deliver the rights and entitlements of citizens and to achieve our republican objectives.
We are not in the business of electoral politics for the sake of it but to use the political mandate we receive to bring about real change for the better in the lives of citizens.
Activism for Irish republicans means being firmly rooted and active in our local community; relevant in the work that we do; and republican in our politics and motivation.
Republican politics are about the national and the social: the national and the local.
In simple terms our objectives are about a better Ireland, a reunited Ireland, a new inclusive society - and a new national Republic based on equality, freedom and justice.
There are a number of prongs to our activism and to our strategy.
One is about bedding down the peace process.
This means completing the implementation of the Good Friday Agreement; on the transfer of powers on policing and justice; on a Bill of Rights and on Acht na Gaeilge.
It also means tackling disadvantage and poverty and injustice and delivering effective government.
And it’s also about reaching out to and engaging with unionism at all levels; community, church, political, the orange order, the working class and middle class.
We who want a United Ireland must be prepared to persuade those who don’t of the merits of our position.
While all this is a huge challenge in many ways the work we do in the South is just as difficult.
Since 1927 the politics of the southern state has been dominated by the two big conservative parties, Fianna Fail and Fine Gael.
The reality is that it is only in recent years that Sinn Fein has been able to seriously take on the task of building a long term political strategy in the south.
It is a slow process but Republicans are about changing political conditions so that citizens are empowered to make their lives better, to reclaim their rights.
The Irish government purports to be republican. There is nothing republican about its policies.
It is not about equality or citizens rights.
It is a bad government, taking bad decisions, in the interests of its money lender friends in the banks and among the developers.
The decisions that have been taken so far and the decisions likely to emerge out of the McCarthy report and in the budget later this year, amount to an attack on the most vulnerable and disadvantaged in society.
Instead of taxing the wealthy the Irish government is slashing public services and jobs and beating up on the unemployed, the elderly, the children and the sick.
There is an urgent need to build opposition to the coalition government, and to the conservative forces in the state.
They cannot be allowed to destroy the social fabric of Irish society.
Our responsibility is to make republicanism relevant to our time by bringing forward commonsense and practical solutions to the chaos the conservative parties have caused.
What is needed is a new politics delivering and implementing new policies that protect jobs, create new jobs, invest in public services and remove the threat of homelessness from tens of thousands of families.
There are lots of potential allies out there. The prison protests in Armagh and the H Blocks brought together many people who disagreed on other issues.
The hunger-strikes became a catalyst for a huge mass movement.
In dire economic times, not dissimilar to today, prison candidates including Martin Hurson, received substantial votes and two prisoners were elected TDs.
So while building Sinn Fein, we also have to help build an alliance for change.
We have to come together with others to forge a stronger, united progressive and democratic movement for our country - one that aims to meet the needs of all citizens.
Just as we did in that long hard summer of 1981.
I believe that this can be done.
The first hurdle we will face will be the re-run of the Lisbon Treaty.
This was a bad treaty when it was first put to the electorate and it is still a bad treaty, negotiated by a bad government.
Think about it: Would you buy a second hand treaty from this government?