A round up of the statements and orations delivered this week to mark the anniversary of the Easter Rising in 1916.
Statement issued in the name of the Irish Republican Army (‘new IRA’)
On this the 98th anniversary of the Easter Rising, the Irish Republican Army extends greetings to its Volunteers and support network at home and abroad. The Volunteer soldiers of Oglaigh na hEireann remain committed followers of the ideals expressed in the Proclamation of the Irish Republic in 1916, and through their military actions and political activism, strive to achieve a 32 county socialist republic.
We extend our solidarity to our imprisoned comrades and their families, imprisonment at the hands of enemies and collaborators is a time of great hardship. However, the IRA POWs have been the vanguard of the struggle against British government criminalisation. They continue to inspire the republican base as do their comrades who find themselves imprisoned by a Free State government.
For republicans, Easter is a time when we remember and pay tribute to all those who fought, died and assisted in the fight for Irish Freedom. We do so with dignity and pride, in tribute to the sacrifice of those who refused to accept British rule in Ireland.
As we approach the centenary of the Easter Rising, it is the ideal time to re-energise the Republican struggle.
The IRA has played its part in recent years by rebuilding, rearming and refocusing efforts to build a sustainable military campaign. These endeavours are proving successful as recent operations have demonstrated. At the same time Constitutional Nationalists and former Republicans that abandoned the IRA oath and constitution, dine with British royals and implement British rule.
The IRA derives its mandate from Britain’s denial of the right of Irish people to national self-determination and sovereignty. Britain does so with the overt support of Stormont and Leinster house.
The IRA remains fully committed to genuine Republican objectives, and where Britain denies the Irish people the right to live free from foreign and undemocratic interference, the IRA will use military force to assert these rights.
A failure to do so and failing to support those building a political Republican alternative to the status quo would be an abandonment of Republican principles.
The leadership and Volunteers of the Irish Republican Army will seek to uphold the cause for which so many fought and died. The IRA continues to build and organise.
Responsibility for further conflict rests with the British government.
Irish Republican Army
Republican Prisoners Statement (Roe 4, Maghaberry)
Republican Prisoners Roe 4, Maghaberry take this opportunity to send solidarity to all our friends and supporters throughout the world who continue to work tirelessly for us and our families. We send solidarity to all our comrades currently imprisoned throughout Ireland.
To our comrades engaged in the struggle outside -- we salute you.
We particularly want to take this opportunity to pay homage to the sacrifice and dedication of our comrade Tony Catney who has continued to battle on our behalf while daily fighting a battle against cancer. You are an inspiration to the Republican people of Ireland and all Revolutionaries around the world.
To our enemies in and outside of this gaol -- You can use torture, isolation and internment at the behest of MI5, your masters in Whitehall and their puppets in Stormont but history should tell you that Republican POWs will not be broken. All of your actions whether in the form of degrading and brutal strip-searching or the isolation of Republican Prisoners like Gavin Coyle will only strengthen our resolve and will push further away the “conflict free environment” that we outlined in our statement of November 2012 when we ended our second prolonged protest calling for a “dialectical process of engagement to resolve all outstanding issues.” After 17 months of creating the space to deal with all these matters, we have been met with only subterfuge, belligerence and brutality. The people in power know these issues are very easily dealt with if the genuine will is there. To do otherwise is a sign that the “breaking” of Republican POWs is the real agenda. We will face such a challenge head on!
Finally, we call on the wider Republican family, ex-POWs and political activists to once again stand shoulder to shoulder in defiance of those who occupy our country. Now is not the time for toasts, curtsies or handshakes. Now is the time to rededicate ourselves in pursuance of the Proclamation of 1916.
In the words of Padraig Pearse at the graveside of O’ Donovan Rossa, “the fools, the fools, the fools! -- They have left us our Fenian dead, and while Ireland holds these graves, Ireland unfree shall never be at peace.”
Statement issued in the name of the leadership of the Republican Movement (Republican Sinn Fein/Continuity IRA)
On the occasion of the 98th anniversary of the 1916 Rising the Leadership of the Republican Movement sends greetings to all assembled at the graves and monuments of our patriot dead and to all Republican prisoners incarcerated as a result of their faith in and loyalty to the All-Ireland Republic. We also take this opportunity to send greetings to the revolutionary women of Cumann na mBan in this their centenary year.
During the last year the Movement has lost two of our most notable leaders in the persons of Ruairi O Bradaigh and Joe O Neill. Both of these individuals were major and recognisable figures identified with the Republican Movement since the 1950s. Notably they were two of the main leaders who remained steadfast and loyal to their Republican principles during the 69/70 split which saw the emergence of the movement which became known as the \0x00Provisionals.\0x00 Throughout the struggle which ensued during the 70s and 80s up to 1986 they were active and key players until treachery struck again. This time a more serious betrayal was afoot as it became clear Republicans contemplated entering the partitionist parliaments.
At this juncture at the Ard-Fheis of 1986 on this issue of principle Ruairi and Joe led the walk-out which resulted in the reorganisation of Irish Republicans. Both of these men gave unwavering and solid leadership and service until their deaths. On behalf of the Republican Movement we extend our sympathies to their families. Ar dheis De go raibh a nanamacha dhilis.
As we look forward positively and laying the plans to celebrate the centenary of the 1916 Rising we must make space here to address a misconception among some ill-informed people across the country in relation to criminal activity perpetrated in the name of the Republican Movement.
During 2010 a number of former members of the Movement without any reasonable or recognisable fundamental principle, initiated by rogue endeavour, and without any recourse to long-standing protocols or constitution and supported by the miscreant and elemental kings of Ireland\0x00s criminal fraternity hatched their plan to lay claim to the honourable name of the Republican Movement.
Having done this unexplainable and treacherous deed the prime movers then within an ashamedly short length of time put distance between themselves and their pseudo-Republican creation. We have questioned within the Republican Movement if these people moved away from their criminal creation because of shame. Or was it what could be expected from active agents who were trying to generate and engage the Republican Movement in a feud with the criminal underworld across the country. A feud which would sully the name of the Republican Movement and consign the cause of Ireland into decline for many years to come. Given the immediate attendance of the British and Free State media at the time these events unfolded it is certain that a malign hand was at work.
It is increasingly obvious that there is no longer a free press in this country. British and Free State intelligence are actively operating with embedded journalists and broadcasters within the major news outlets. There is little doubt that this media manipulation by senior intelligence operatives within the Gardai share responsibility for many of the gangland killings which are taking place across the country. These so-called officers of the law would wish to have Irish Republicans to the fore in these foul doings.
The treachery of 2010 was a carefully-planned attempt to arrest and destroy the Republican Movement as it exists today in the continuing defence of the Irish Republic proclaimed at the GPO Dublin in 1916. These people have failed and the criminal conspirators they have left in their wake shall dissipate.
There will be other attempts to raise issues of contention ranging across diverse matters, for example principles, structures, authority, democracy, discipline and many others into the future. That said nobody is going to put the Republican Movement in their pocket and walk away to self-serve, for in doing so they will be turning away from the principles which sustain this Movement and which are the ultimate guarantee of our success.
THE Republican Movement will continue to be the bedrock and guardians of the Republic proclaimed at Dublin\0x00s GPO and democratically underpinned in the election of 1918. The Irish Republic was not afforded any support at that time by the robust democracies of the world and so in the face of the British Empire democracy floundered.
We note the emergence of Irish Republican remembrance societies in many areas of the country. While these are useful to remind people of our patriot dead they also assist in the segmenting of the Republican heartlands especially in the Six Occupied Counties. There is a place for all Republicans loyal to the Republic proclaimed in 1916 in this Movement.
The path to the Republic is not an easy one and it has been made more difficult since the Cause was betrayed by those who now take their seats in the partitionist parliaments. We call on all those who now recognise this betrayal to join with us in our continuing struggle for the freedom of our country. Freedom from the parliaments imposed by England which entrench and are dependent upon sectarian hatred to survive.
The Republican project is alive and well and we will win.
An Phoblacht Abu!
Long live the Irish Republic.
Oration issued by the Irish Republican Socialist Party
Comradai agus a chairde (Comrades and friends)
Today we gather to remember and salute our fallen volunteers of the Republican Socialist Movement, who made the ultimate sacrifice in pursuit of a 32 County Workers Republic.
We remember with pride our volunteers in the Irish National Liberation Army, the political activists of the Irish Republican Socialist Party and all those who lost their lives in the struggle for national liberation and socialism who lie buried in this plot and in similar plots across Ireland.
Without the courage and bravery of those who went before us, the integrity of our political struggle would have long ago been compromised by pretenders to our political philosophy. Republican Socialism was always a separate political identity from the wider republican struggle, and our movement has always espoused a distinct political outlook.
This is what attracted activists of the calibre of Seamus Costello, Miriam Daly, Patsy O’Hara, Kevin Lynch, Mickey Devine, Dominic and Mary McGlinchey, Ta Power, Gino Gallagher and many more hundreds of men and women from across Ireland into the ranks of the Republican Socialist Movement. When they had a choice they chose the Republican Socialist Movement over all other reformist factions.
The men and women who founded our movement were the brightest and bravest of their generation. They had the potential to affect revolutionary change in Ireland but attacks on our movement from state and non-state forces stifled that potential from the very beginning.
Our task as we stand here to remember our fallen comrades is to rededicate ourselves to the political ideals for which they gave their lives: to again build a movement that can and will fulfil that potential to effect revolutionary social change.
Whilst we remember the men and women from the latest phase of the conflict, those who we knew personally as family, friends and as comrades, we remain mindful that Easter is the time of year when we commemorate those who fought during Easter week, 1916, in order to overthrow the British administration in Ireland.
It is a time when we analyse the current state of the Irish republican struggle and its ability to confront the forces of British and international imperialism. We also use this solemn occasion to review how we continue to prosecute revolutionary struggle in Ireland.
The men and women of Easter week emerged from the collapse of the reformist movement towards home rule and the radicalised working class movement that battled the bosses during the Dublin Lockout. This sowed the seeds of the working class resurrection within the nationalist movement.
From that fateful week Irish republicans have since strove to drive the British from our shores but we have yet to realise the aims of the 1916 proclamation. That is the unfulfilled potential which I mentioned earlier, the revolution that has yet to happen in Ireland.
The hundredth anniversary of the Easter Rising is fast approaching and now there is talk of members of the British aristocracy participating alongside the Free Staters during state choreographed commemorations in the Free State.
Likewise, during the recent events in England, the so-called leaders of Labour and of Irish Republicanism raised a glass to salute the reigning British monarch. This is the antithesis of Republicanism. No Republican would ever countenance saluting any monarch.
What makes this situation even more perverse is that Sinn Fein are attempting to persuade the people that this is a step on the road to the Republic. Nothing could be further from the truth. This is simply an attempt to normalize the current situation in occupied Ireland which is in reality far from normal.
Republicans need to return to revolutionary struggle which will not be fought within Windsor Castle or the White House. Mimicking British bankers and the aristocracy by dressing in their clothes and taking part in their antiquated customs will not bring us one inch closer to the Republic for which so many of our friends and comrades gave their lives.
We in the Republican Socialist Movement will not be taken in by this charade. The toasting of the British Queen by Martin McGuinness was not done in our name. To paraphrase the great French revolutionary and Republican, Robspierre: ‘The elite must perish so that the people may live’. It is necessary that as we remember our brave comrades that we learn from history and attempt to move towards a revolutionary situation.
We need to learn from mistakes of the past and build on solid political foundations that will provide a strong basis for political change. We have been doing just that. Over the past three years the Irish Republican Socialist Party has undergone great change and development. This is part of the continuing struggle for socialism in Ireland.
Without the primacy of politics for which many of our comrades died, the struggle would have little to no chance of succeeding. The primacy of politics as envisaged by our fallen comrade Ta Power is what will bring the entire Republican Socialist Movement into the future; to see socialism in the 21st century.
The cultural, economic and political forces of the right are fighting the Class War with every weapon they have at their disposal. Internationally, Imperialist powers are carving up the world’s resources and manipulating borders in a manner not seen since the late 19th century. People’s lives, their hopes and their very survival is being threatened by global capitalism.
The living conditions of the European working class are being driven down by so called austerity measures. The rich and the powerful are manipulating the crisis in the capitalist financial system into a crisis in public spending by bailing out financial gangsters and gombeen men like Sean Fitzpatrick and faceless bondholders.
In return we see the criminalisation of the poor and of the working class, forcing us to work for little or nothing more than the dole. Ireland remains as occupied as ever. Despite the spectacle of reconciliation, regeneration and rebranding exercises, British imperialism still physically occupies the six counties.
The Westminster government and the Stormont pantomime is intent on implementing an economic agenda that is creating a surge in unemployment, underemployment, deprivation and poverty.
In the 26 county area, the situation is no different. The IMF, ECB and EU troika controls the Irish puppet state dictating budgets and encouraging the privatisation of all the means of production, distribution, exchange and our natural resources.
The forces drawn up by capital against the Irish working class are immense comrades. They are using their vast wealth and influence to crush any and all opposition to their plans of domination. But Republican Socialists have never been known to shy away from a fight.
Our strength comes from the empowerment of our class by our revolutionary Republican Socialist ideology. Ideas are our greatest weapon and without revolutionary theory there can be no revolutionary movement.
Being of the working class means making Republican Socialism relevant in your community and I say here today comrades if you are not playing a positive role within your community you are not a Republican Socialist.
IRSP members and indeed other members of the wider left republican family in Ireland need to become leaders within the working class movements. We need to espouse our revolutionary politics of working class empowerment in our trade unions, our community groups and our residents associations and any other arenas of struggle which may open up.It is only by becoming of the people that we can advance their interests.
We stand here today commemorating all those Irish revolutionaries who paid the ultimate price for their love of freedom. From the brave men and women of 1798 to those of the Irish National Liberation Army, they are all equal in sacrifice. It is fitting that this occasion takes place on the anniversary of one of the greatest broad front actions in Irish history.
The 1916 Easter Rising was an event where the Irish Volunteer Movement along with the Irish Republican Brotherhood, the Citizen Army and Cumann na hBann came together in a broad front to fight against British imperialism. It united working class militants alongside progressive nationalists, radical feminists with the revolutionary republican tradition.
In 1974, Seamus Costello sought a similar unification of anti-imperialist forces through the broad front. In 2014 he IRSP still maintain this aim. What needs to be done comrades, on this the 40th anniversary of our movements foundation, is the reassertion of Costello’s anti imperialist broad front. The contemporary broad front should comprise the widest layers of progressive political and revolutionary social forces. This is what must be done after we leave here today.
We have a programme of oppositional politics and progressive alternatives. It is our intention to fight the hypocrisy of those implementing welfare reforms and exploitative ‘labour activation schemes’ by exposing the bosses behind it all while addressing the housing crisis and lack of services and opportunities for the youth which is leading to societal self harm and criminalisation of an entire section of the community.
The biggest lie in this whole austerity drive is shown when this militarised police force can demand more and more millions of taxpayers’ money all the while we are told that care for the sick and elderly must be privatised to cut costs.
Next month we will mark the loss of James Connolly a founding father of Republican Socialism who was the last of those who rose during Easter Week to be executed on the 12th of May 1916 whose words I will now finish on:
Revolution is never practical - until the hour of the revolution strikes. Then it alone is practical, and all the efforts of the conservatives and compromisers become the most futile and visionary of human imaginings.
Address to Republican Network for Unity supporters (delivered by Anne Duggan of RNU Dundalk).
A chairde agus comradai.
Ta Failte raoimh go leir, anseo ag an chomoradh Dun dealgan don Eiri amach na casca.
You are all very welcome at this, Dundalk’s 98th anniversary commemoration of the Easter Rising, at which we also remember our patriot dead from all periods of the Republican struggle for Irish Freedom.
This is the fourth year in which the movement in its current form, have gathered here at Dundalk Republican plot. The final resting place of IRA Volunteers; Thomas McKeown, John McNulty, Thomas Murray, James Melia, Thomas Lennon and Joseph Ferguson.
Previous speakers have talked at length on how these men paid the supreme sacrifice for their principles and refusal to abandon the Republican aspirations which had led them to war and eventual imprisonment. How in January 1922, they were taken in an act of barbaric retribution from their prison cells and executed, by the forces of the new Free State, the same forces who with fixed bayonets and rifle fire attacked mourners at this very grave side almost three years later; when eventually they saw fit to hand the bodies over for a decent Christian burial.
We assembled will never forget the ultimate sacrifice which was paid by our comrades who lie within in this plot, nor the sacrifice made by the thousands of other fallen patriots who have given their all, since the Republican struggle commenced in this country in 1798.
Today is our day for remembering all such brave men and women and we do so with a great pride and a continued determination that their deaths will not be in vain.
Republican Network for Unity have chosen to make Dundalk their annual national focus for commemorating our patriot dead, however we recognise that other similar commemorations are taking place across Ireland and further afield, today and over the course of the weekend. To all genuine Republicans gathered at similar events we extend comradely greetings and best wishes for the year ahead.
As always we take this opportunity to send our very best wishes and salutations to the incarcerated Republican prisoners, in Maghaberry, Portlaoise, Hydebank, Limerick and elsewhere recognising that many of them are prevented from paying tribute to Irelands fallen and indeed will face harsh punishment for trying to do so.
We pay particular tribute to our dear friend, RNU Ard Comhairle member, former H Block and current Maghaberry POW Tony Taylor, who stood here with us three years ago. We wish him the best and look forward to his return to Dundalk in the future.
In the past year we also lost our friend and comrade Oglach Seamus McKenna, at whose funeral we stood firm against the Free State forces who (just like their predecessors in this graveyard in 1924) tried but failed to prevent Republicans burying him with respect and dignity.
In the past year, Ireland also lost a stalwart of principled Republicanism, one time IRA leader Rurai O’Bradaigh.
His passing is felt by all Republicans and as with Seamus McKenna, we send our sympathy to his family, friends and comrades.
On a more positive note, since we last gathered here we have seen the return to Ireland of Michael Campbell from Lithuania, after years of living in unjustifiable imprisonment and squalor. We commend his bravery and celebrate his rightful return to Ireland.
We also (in this the centenary year of the Cumann na mBan movement) pay particular tribute to the unique and special role which women have played in the national struggle down through the generations, as active Volunteers in the field, within the prisons, as street activists, as mothers wives, partners and daughters; the women of Ireland who in their tens of thousands made up the back bone of the movement and without whom there would have been no Freedom struggle.
In the year since we last gathered here, RNU have stood by their promise to continue to build upon firm ground, the ideological basis upon which we as a collective of Republican activists committed ourselves to not giving up the Revolutionary position but instead revisiting and strengthening it. We believe and trust, that this position is in keeping with the aspirations of our patriot dead and vow to carry on our work in their name.
We long ago, recognised the blind alley, up which Irish Republicanism was being led by those who assured us that Britain could be confronted through a process of accommodation.
Those who espoused the abandonment of the Sovereignty principle, went on to espouse a process of perpetual accommodation with England, they continued to assure us throughout that Irish Republicanism could be best served by its own gradual destruction and destroy it they tried.
Not a fortnight ago we were treated to the nauseating spectacle of Irish citizens succumbing to the lure of British state banqueting, a long accepted Imperial method of killing off whatever self-respect was left within former opponents of England’s position.
Not sufficiently bedazzled by the fruits of coalition with Fine Gael; and in these times of abject poverty and renewed emigration at home; former Workers Party & Republican Clubs member Eamon Gilmore allowed himself to be paraded through the streets of London in a horse drawn carriage, flanked by the Royal Cavalry and accompanied by none other than Prince Charles, commander in chief of the Parachute regiment.
President of the pretend Republic, Michael D Higgins (a highly educated man) allowed himself to be used as a quaint ornament, testament to relinquished Irish aspirations of Independence, greeting the British head of state as if in normal times, yet fully aware that her government and forces still illegally stand in the way of his and our birth right, a free living nation with guaranteed sovereignty governed by the Republican principles of equality and social justice.
Most galling of all, the corrupt commander, Martin McGuinness, for whom so many gave up so much, appeared to the world dressed in the attire of the oppressor to dine with and toast the system which patriots went to their graves to resist, many spurred on by McGuinness’ own words, assurances and commands.
What must the families of our patriot dead feel when they view this spectacle? Indeed what must the families of all who died feel? Regardless of their role? Their apprehension and annoyance is fully justified, it is also shared by us.
However let us not spend any more time considering the antics of those who dined with the enemies of our freedom, let us celebrate the fact that we and others have kept the faith and like our fathers and theirs before them, have not only regrouped and gathered here, but have gathered with increasing confidence and vigour, willing and capable of reclaiming and rebuilding Revolutionary Republicanism, promising to practice its principles and realising its full potential.
We are living in challenging times, in which all who claim to uphold the values of principled Republicanism are called upon and are duty bound to bring fresh vigour and dynamics to the struggle, we in RNU have played our part in this process, not least through the promotion of our world-view documents and position papers ‘Standing outside the Pace Process’ and its sister document ‘Revolutionary Republicanism’.
No longer can we be accused of having no alternative to the failed Stormont process, as it bounces from crisis to crisis, leaving the Republican position more damaged with every blow.
We have an alternative; simply put we propose taking back Ireland; every inch of it; its national territory, its natural resources, means of production and decision making bodies, not for the benefits of a corrupt minority - as is the norm under the current system - but for the welfare and common good of all Irish citizens.
Furthermore, through our documents we have proposed a step by step process by which this vision can become so much more than a pipe dream, and can be made a reality; allowing our people to finally escape from the centuries old shackles of foreign occupation, shameful self-abandonment, emigration, poverty and neglect.
We encourage all those assembled to take the time to explore and learn from our twin documents which will empower them with the arguments and logic needed to take the message of principled Republicanism to where its needs to be, amongst the ranks of the Irish Working Class.
There have been and continue to be, calls for the unity of all parties and organisations who claim the principled Republican position.
Allow us to give our perspectives on such calls. There is undoubted merit in these appeals for unity, but be under no doubt; unity is only unity when adhering to the principles of mutual respect, equality of expression and acceptance of both the opinions and duties of all parties involved. Any initiative which attempts to bypass the need for mutual respect or autonomy, or replaces such values with coercion and subterfuge cannot be considered unity at all.
We have embraced again the founding Republican ideals of Liberty, Equality & Fraternity; and by consequence the unashamed ideals of Irish National Liberation & Socialism. Under our watch, Socialist principles will not be abused as a smokescreen with which some would abandon the urgent need to free our country, nor will it be the preserve of a pompous minority of intellectuals. It will be the straight forward principled position for those who demand a fair deal for the ordinary man and woman of this country, who currently and shamefully are forced to work for the privilege life styles of the gombeen men of Ireland or the foreign bankers backed by the plundering and heartless forces of Troika and the IMF.
We say clearly that the fight for equality and the fight for our countries freedom are one and the same, you cannot have one without the other. This position was enshrined within the spirit of the 1916 proclamation, it was the message of Connolly and Pearce, the subsequent spirit of the programme of the 1st Dail which so many within the IRA (including those buried here) gave their lives up attempting to defend.
We will not let these men, or the children of Ireland down by perusing any less for our country. Let us once again leave this place imbued with a renewed determination to take back Ireland, in the name of God, our dead generations and those who we came to honour today.
32 County Sovereignty Movement Easter Commemoration speech, delivered by Gary Donnelly in Derry
Friends and comrades, it is a great pleasure and a great honour to be asked to say a few words at this Commemoration today. The republican plot in Derry, like others dotted across Ireland, is a piece of hallowed ground, sacred to the memory of our revolutionary leaders and of our patriot martyrs who gave their lives for the struggle. We commemorate their heroism today.
Today is the 98th anniversary of the Easter Rising. We salute the gallant men and women who struck that blow for freedom, we salute their audacity and their spirit, their determination to sacrifice everything in pursuit of the rights of the Irish people to a 32 county Republic. Today, we rededicate ourselves to that cause and to that struggle.
The enemy has not gone away. Oppression and brutality have not gone away. In fact, republicans face increasingly draconian legislation including internment by remand and daily harassment on the streets. Our friends and our families are also subjected to continuous and vindictive targeting by crown forces. However, the British have ever failed to realize that the injustices they inflict upon us only make us stronger in our resolve to resist and to challenge the occupation of our country.
For years now, we have been bombarded with lies, spin, and propaganda from media and state agencies. We have been deliberately misrepresented, misquoted and grotesquely demonized. One-time republicans, now in the pay of the enemy, mock us with labels like ‘micro-groups’ and self-importantly ask us “what’s you strategy?” It seems that their passion revives only when there’s an opportunity to condemn us in the name of a cause in which they have ceased to believe. For us the answer is quite simple, our strategy is to build our resistance to the illegal occupation of our country but we can only do that in proportion to our support and resources.
Today, I have a question for them: What’s your strategy? Will banqueting with the Queen of England achieve Irish freedom? Will flirting with pro-Israeli American war-mongers like Richard Haass advance a socialist Republic? Will passing the Welfare Reform Act and Bedroom Tax and stripping disadvantaged communities of benefits, help build an Ireland of equals? Will it help the 400, 000 people in the six counties who are living in poverty? Let’s not forget that the economic crisis for which we are paying was caused by the greed of the bankers. Yet, today Maghaberry is full of republican prisoners when it should be full of bankers. In Westminster and in Stormont, politicians are busy tending to a herd of cash-cows; none of them have any interest in upsetting the comfortable status quo.
Under the ongoing cuts being implemented by Stormont, working families are set to lose an average of #900 per working adult - hard pressed families who are already facing heat or eat choices and whose children are being forced to emigrate in droves.
1916 was not about tuxedos and toasting the Queen of England; prisoners on dirty protest and on hunger strike did not fight against the regime of Her Majesty’s Prison so that Martin McGuiness could sell their sacrifice for a fiddler’s invite to Her Majesty’s Royal Banquet. This most recent, sorry episode puts the infamous “traitors to the people of Ireland” remark in a clearer context. People will be able to draw their own conclusions.
So, seriously, Martin, what IS your strategy? Do you have a strategy or are you a pawn in someone else’s strategy? I’ll not hold my breath waiting for a reply.
In the meantime, we must rely on our own mettle and the nobility of our cause. It’s up to us - the men and women of no property - with the little we have, to rebuild and renew the struggle. In practical terms, that means standing with the people of our communities in the everyday battle to survive. It’s truly heartening to see genuine community organisations and activists doing this already and we should all support their efforts. To this end, I welcome the 32CSM’s Social Programme and the work of our members within their communities.
With two short years to go until the centenary of the Easter Rising, it’s time for all republicans to build greater comradeship, solidarity and unity. I call upon everyone here today to go out and begin this task in any way you can, it’s the least we owe to the heroes of 1916.
It seems appropriate to end by recalling the prophetic words of Padraig Pearse at the grave of O’Donovan Rossa. His challenge to the arrogance of the “Defenders of the realm” is as relevant today as it was in the run up to the Easter Rising:
“They think that they have pacified Ireland. They think that they have purchased half of us and intimidated the other half. They think that they have foreseen everything, think that they have provided against everything; but the fools, the fools, the fools! They have left us our Fenian dead, and while Ireland holds these graves, Ireland unfree shall never be at peace.”
Statement issued by eirigi, from an address delivered by Stephen Murney in Belfast.
“Ireland has a long and noble record of many women who played, and who continue to play, prominent and leading roles in the struggles for national freedom, for social justice and for economic equality for all.
Women in Ireland took up arms, raised funds, and hid fugitives during the Rebellion of 1798. In Wexford, Antrim and Down, women marched into combat beside the men and died beside them on the same battlefields.
The great strikes of 1913 that led up to the Dublin Lock-Out included many women workers who, later that year, founded the Irish Women Workers’ Union.
The Irish Citizen Army, first formed as a workers’ defence force during the Lock-Out, included women in its ranks and accorded them equal status with the men.
The founding of Cumann na mBan in 1914 was an important step forward by women to assert their role in Irish politics and to assist in the wider radicalisation of Irish women. Mary Spring Rice and Molly Childers served notice of the positive role that women could bring to the growing revolutionary movement when they were part of the crew on board the Asgard which landed arms for the Volunteers in Howth.
The Proclamation of the Provisional Government read aloud by Padraic Pearse outside the GPO was addressed to Irishmen and Irishwomen alike.
That declaration of freedom granted women equal citizenship, equal opportunities and equal rights in the new Irish Republic.
Ireland’s women, through the Irish Citizen Army and Cumann na mBan, were directly involved during the fighting of Easter week.
Countess Markievicz was in charge of Republican forces at Stephen’s Green. Among the last people to leave the GPO in 1916 were Cumann na mBan members Julia Grenan, Elizabeth O’Farrell and Belfast’s Winifred Carney who is buried in this cemetery.
Along with over seventy other women, they were each imprisoned by the British for their part in the Rising.
Women’s involvement in the Republican struggle intensified during the Tan War and the period of the counter revolution. Hundreds of women were imprisoned during that time.
In each of the following decades, in the 30s, 40s, 50s and through to more recent years, Cumann na mBan continued to be at the forefront of the struggle for Irish freedom.
Like the men, those women made great sacrifices--they gave up their previously peaceful existences for the Republican struggle.
Many of those women lost husbands and sons, lost boyfriends, postponed marriages and other life plans; they spent time in prison, on hunger-strikes, and they experienced reprisals against their families by the state.
Some like the late Maire Drumm and Patricia Black, among many others, ultimately gave their own lives.
In this centenary year of the formation of Cumann na mBan, it is right that we salute and honour all those women who, across many generations, have played a part in our national liberation struggle.
In that respect, it is correct that we acknowledge and send solidarity to those women who are currently imprisoned in Ireland for their political beliefs - women such as Ursula Ni Shionnain in Limerick gaol and Sharon Rafferty, Christine Connors and Nuala Gormley in Hydebank.
We also send solidarity to our Palestinian sisters in struggle imprisoned by the Israeli state.
When Mairead Farrell stated that Irishwomen had been oppressed both as women and as Irish people, she spoke an undeniable truth.
It is always worth reminding ourselves that women’s participation in the Republican struggle was not just to achieve national liberation, it was also about the struggle of working-class women for better living conditions, for better working conditions and pay, and for a radical political voice.
All those whom we honour today did not engage in struggle to defend or maintain British rule.
They did not engage in struggle to defend or legitimise partition.
Those whom we honour today sought an end to imperialism and monarchy, they did not seek to dine with, or pay deference to, any figure-head representing those unjust social, economic or political systems.
Over the next two years as the centenary year of the Easter Rising draws near, the modern-day forces of counter-revolution will embark upon an unprecedented revisionist propaganda campaign aimed at trying to persuade the public mind that the objectives of 1916 have been secured through the partition of our country.
We must be prepared to challenge that propaganda campaign both north and south.”
Statement issued by Sinn Fein from an address delivered by Martin McGuinness in Monaghan.
“Republicans are committed to a genuine process of national reconciliation and this means reaching out to the unionist community in a spirit of generosity and understanding.
Earlier this month a confident and united Sinn Fein leadership decided that republican representatives, including myself, should participate fully in the Irish President’s state visit to Britain.
Our party leadership took this decision in the context of republican objectives, and as an initiative to further strengthen the process of change and reconciliation.
Republicans have shown in words and deeds that we are absolutely committed to this process of reconciliation. But unionists must also participate in this process. They need to reach out to republicans. The conflict was long and bitter. Many people were hurt on all sides. No one has a monopoly on suffering. It is time to begin discussing how shared hurts can be acknowledged, lessened and, if possible, healed.
Republicans fully acknowledge the hurt that we inflicted in the course of the conflict. Unionists also need to recognise the hurt they have created.
They need to turn their back on the inequality and repression that marked 50 years of one party rule in the north. They need to challenge rejectionist unionists. They need to show positive leadership.”