O Bradaigh steps down
O Bradaigh steps down

In his final address as President of Republican Sinn Fein, Ruairi O Bradaigh has outlined the challenges which he believes lie ahead for Ireland and his party.

Speaking at his party’s annual conference last week, Mr O Bradaigh said that the process of “normalising British rule in Ireland” is continuing “in the teeth of organised opposition”.

He cited the playing of Gaelic football matches between 26-County police/army teams and teams representing British forces, British royal visits, so-called courtesy visits by British naval vessels to 26-County ports, and the erection of memorials to British soldiers.

“Such events are highly publicised, especially after the occasion while opposition by Republican Sinn Fein and others is blacked out. A gratuitous insult to the people of Ireland and the unity of Ireland was the decision of the Tyrone County Board GAA, to bring the senior and minor football All-Ireland trophies, the Sam Maguire and Tommy Markham cups into Stormont on February 6.

“To do so was to hijack two symbols of the essential unity of the Irish nation in order to lend credibility to a prop of British rule here and of the partition of Ireland.”

He said that the election of Tomas O Curraoin to Galway County Council in June signalled the electoral results could be achieved by his party.

“His outstanding success proves that Republican Sinn Fein candidates are electable -- it can be done -- but it requires hard work over time,” he said.

He said that democratic control of the banking system was the only effective means of dealing with the causes of the collapse of the economy.

Banks should be nationalised, “sorted out” and then, rather than staying under state control or being sold to outside investors, “be turned into mutuals. In other words, they would be controlled by their account holders.”

He also praised the youth of the Six Counties for their continued resistance to British rule:

“For our part we compliment the Republican youth on their courage and daring. They have recognised British rule for what it is the very same as it has been down the centuries. Having identified it, they have stepped forward to oppose it.

“Others to their shame have joined forces with the Brits; to cover their shame they have called faithful Republicans “traitors.

He also pledged Republican Sinn Fein’s continued support for the Shell to Sea campaign and he singled Maura Harrington out for special mention.

Concluding he explained his reasons for stepping down as Uachtaran [President] of Republican Sinn Fein and his future plans, including his continued participation in the RSF leadership.

“Anno Domini catches up with us all, eventually,” he said.

“My turn has come to step down as President. I do soon the grounds of age and health. I have given service in that role for 35 years, a first period of 13 and a second of 22. All in all I am in my 60th year as an active member of the Republican Movement. My first Ard-Fheis was in 1950 when Margaret Buckley gave her last Address as President.

“I intend to continue with my activity, both at local and at national level; today I am going forward for membership of the incoming Ard-Chomhairle.

“I have never found any difficulty in carrying out my duties and want to record my appreciation and thanks to all who worked with me down the years and over the decades,” he concluded, to a standing ovation.


Over the course of two days the Ard-Fheis discussed and passed resolutions covering areas such as Political and Social and Economic Policy. Political Prisoners, International Affairs, Organisation and Activities, as well as Education and Culture.

Resolutions extending greetings and solidarity to Republican prisoners were also passed as well continuing to campaign actively for the right of Republican prisoners to political status.

There were also several submissions from the floor of the hall, with many calling for RSF to be more involved with communities than it currently is. The task of winning people towards “revolutionary Republicanism” and the need to be relevant were linked.

Delegates were also reminded of the words of Connolly that “the cause of labour is the cause of Ireland and the cause of Ireland is the cause of labour”.

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© 2009 Irish Republican News