Irish Republican News · September 3, 2016
[Irish Republican News]

[Irish Republican News]
Soldiers lurk as RNU commemorate McCracken


The Republican Network for Unity has condemned the presence of British army troops in the area of their annual commemoration for Henry Joy McCracken last Sunday, August 28.

The party said its activists from Belfast and Tyrone witnessed the soldiers surround the area, as they arrived in the graveyard to prepare for the event.

“We categorically condemn the presence of these imperialist soldiers and their unionist PSNI facilitators on the streets of Belfast or indeed, in any part of Ireland,” they said.

“Those that attempt to normalise their continued presence here deserve nothing but our contempt and criticism.”

Henry Joy McCracken, a Presbyterian, was a founding member of the Society of the United Irishmen and died in 1798. The annual event in his honour arrived safely for the service at Clifton Street Cemetery, but not without loyalists jeering and chanting “scum” as the parade made its way through north Belfast.

As those in attendance gathered around the graveside, RNU National Vice-Chairperson Nathan Stuart spoke of the Battle of Antrim and explained that there are lessons to be drawn from the battle which are very much applicable to contemporary Irish Republicanism. He spoke of the class nature of the struggle against imperialism in Ireland and a need for confidence in challenging institutions.

RNU Ard Chomhairle member John Heaney delivered the organisation’s ‘National Message’ for 2016. Mr. Heaney saluted the “resilience of our imprisoned comrades” across the island and called for a continuation of the support shown to the prisoners over the past year.

He spoke passionately of the radical, progressive ideals of Henry Joy McCracken and asked supporters to carry out his struggle with the support of the Irish people. He placed a special emphasis not only on the liberation struggle, but the daily struggles of the Irish people and finished by calling on Irish republicans to act as a cohesive force against the forces that seek to keep us divided.


The following is the full text of his remarks:


A chairde agus comradai

It is a great privilege and makes me deeply proud to see you all here today, despite reactionary attempts to force us into the shadows. I extend thanks and solidarity to all of you, without you, we wouldn’t be able to commemorate great republican figures like Henry Joy McCracken. I hope you will continue to walk the path for many years to come.

It is an honour to deliver this speech today at the graveside of Henry Joy McCracken, while also remembering we are still in the centenary year, particularly paying attention to all those who have paid a huge sacrifice for the national liberation struggle, through long years in jail or an eternity in the grave. They are the backbone of our struggle and we gathered here today are the revolutionary remnants of those who fought to realise the Republican aspiration.

On behalf of the movement i would like to extend solidarity greetings to our imprisoned comrades in Maghaberry and Portlaoise who have spent another year weathering the British storm and refusing to allow the state to criminalise our struggle. Republican Network for Unity salute their resilience and fortitude, and pledge to continue to assist their fight for the implementation of the August 2010 agreement.

For a number of years now, Republican Network for Unity have gathered here to commemorate the life of Henry Joy McCracken, we have often spoke of his achievements and battles with great pride. However, today i would like us to commemorate the mind and thought of Henry Joy. As many of you are aware, Henry Joy McCracken was a radical thinker who, at all times, sought to advance the cause of Irish freedom. He used all means at his disposal, all resources available to drive forward the progressive ideas of his day. Henry Joy assisted in developing and fostering the ideas of the United Irishmen, ideas of equality - liberty - fraternity and of course, freedom. Confident in his convictions, he then lifted his pike and drove these ideas to the very heart of the British establishment. The ideas that drove the pike were as important as the pike itself, they still are.

That monumental bravery shown by Henry Joy to advance the republican argument must be replicated today. We must show the same bravery to move those same progressive ideas into the 21st century. For centuries republicanism has derived its strength from the Irish people, we must revisit that concept and ensure it underpins our movement toward Irish freedom. To bring our ideas into fruition, we must bring the people with us. The road to the republic goes through the community.

Republicans must become servants of the communities we claim to represent. While most of us struggle daily for Irish freedom, everybody in our community faces their own struggles. Their struggles must become our struggles and our struggle must become theirs. I reiterate the thought of another monumental republican: ‘Ireland without her people is nothing to me, and the man who is bubbling over with love and enthusiasm for ‘Ireland’, and can yet pass unmoved through our streets and witness all the wrong and the suffering, the shame and the degradation wrought upon the people of Ireland, aye, wrought by Irishmen upon Irishmen and women, without burning to end it, is, in my opinion, a fraud and a liar in his heart, no matter how he loves that combination of chemical elements which he is pleased to call ‘Ireland’.’

To all comrades who continue to struggle to advance the republican position, i stress our key word for the coming struggles must be cohesiveness. Republicans must act in a cohesive manner in every activity we undertake. Our enemy’s act in cohesion, we must be willing and capable of doing the same. Speaking with a collective voice and striking with a collective fist. Isolation and division is not Henry Joy’s vision. It is not our vision. We must go forward with cohesion and comradeship, with energy and efficiency, with strength and solidarity and most importantly, with ideas.

Before we leave this sacred ground today, i would like to finish on a piece by Padraig Pearse, he said: ‘The ghosts of a nation sometimes ask very big things; and they must be appeased, whatever the cost.

A chairde, let’s appease our ghosts.

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