Irish Republican News · April 23, 2016
[Irish Republican News]

[Irish Republican News]
Centenary Rising events commemorated


Irish President Michael D Higgins has led a day of commemorations for republican martyr Roger Casement by describing him as a great patriot and one of the 20th century’s great humanitarians.

Wreaths were laid at the monument dedicated to his role in the 1916 Rising beside Banna Strand and also at a state ceremony overlooking the sea where the rebel arrived in a German U-boat.

Thousands of people attended the event. The president said the commemoration was about taking pride in Casement’s idealism, his exposure of exploitation by empires and his commitment to the cause of freedom in Ireland and abroad.

He said the centenary is a chance to engage with the fundamental questions Casement (pictured) raised about power and human rights, the rights of communities and indigenous peoples and foreign policy and international trade rules.

“It is only now, despite the pioneering humanitarianism of such as Casement, that the degradation of indigenous peoples has grown into a central issue in human rights discourse,” said Mr Higgins.

Casement was hanged in Pentonville Prison, London, on August 3 1916 after being found guilty of treason. His remains were returned to Ireland in 1965.

He exposed abuses in rubber plantations run by Belgium’s King Leopold II in Congo and similar human rights issues in Brazil. At the same time he was a member of the Irish Volunteers and helped in the Howth gun running of that year.

After spending 18 months in Germany while the First World War raged, he travelled on U19 under Captain Raimund Weissbach to rendezvous with The Aud, a ship carrying 20,000 guns to Kerry for the Rising.

The link-up did not go as planned and Casement came ashore at Banna with Captain Robert Monteith and Daniel Bailey on Good Friday, April 21.

The Aud was intercepted by the British Navy and was scuttled by its captain, Karl Spindler, off Cork. Casement was arrested while holed up in McKenna’s Fort near Banna suffering from the affects of malaria.

His grandniece Lesley McNaughton laid a wreath in his honour at the monument near Banna before the State ceremony took place. A descendant of Captain Weissbach, Christian Weissbach, also accepted an invite to the commemoration.

President Higgins, who laid a wreath at the anchor from the Aud in front of Banna Strand, later opened the country’s first major exhibition on Casement at the Kerry County Museum.

He described him as a full-blown Irish revolutionary.

“Today we must also recall how, in a true Republican spirit, Roger Casement’s generous vision for the Ireland of the future was one that included all of the people of Northern Ireland, in the diversity of their beliefs, origins and history,” the President said.

“This was a vision which Casement recalled in that same speech from the dock, when he said: ‘We aimed at uniting the Ulster Volunteers to the cause of United Ireland. We aimed at uniting all Irishmen in a natural and national bond of cohesion based on mutual self-respect’.”

Casement’s grandniece Lesley McNaughton laid a wreath in his honour at the monument near Banna before the State ceremony took place. Among the others who participated in the ceremony was actor Declan McCarthy, who read from Casement’s speech from the dock before he was sentenced to death for treason.

The service included a rendition of Banna Strand, also known as the Ballad of Roger Casement, by Mike Hanrahan and Breanndan O Beaglaoich.

The deaths of Con Keating from Caherciveen, Donal Sheehan from Newcastle West and Charlie Monahan from Belfast’s Short Strand on Good Friday 1916 were also remembered at Ballykissane Pier, Killorglin.

They drowned, 100 years ago this week, in an aborted Irish Republican Brotherhood mission to seize wireless radio equipment from the Atlantic College in Caherciveen. A historical account of Charlie Monahan’s ill-fated role in the Easter Rising is included below.

A full report of this weekend’s commemorations will also be carried here next week.

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