The following is a speech delivered earlier this month by Peter A Rogers at the independent republican Easter commemoration in Duleek, County Meath.
A cairde, is deas a bheith anseo chun labhairt an trathnona seo.
It’s an honour and a privilege to have been asked to speak here today.
I’m going to begin with a quote from the late great, Ruairi O Bradaigh:
“What Is Irish Republicanism? To the Republican Movement which maintains direct organisational continuity from Fenian times, through the Irish Republican Brotherhood, past 1916 and the First Dail Eireann to the present day, Republicanism in Ireland has a very strict, yet extremely comprehensive meaning.In a strict sense, an Irish Republican was one who gave allegiance to the 32-County Republic of Easter 1916 and who denied the right of the British government to rule here. With the establishment of the First Dail Eireann in 1919 as the government of that Republic its supporters were Republicans, just as those who opposed the setting up here of two partition States - Six-County and 26- County - in 1921 and 1922.The ‘Treaty’ States, both North and South subservient economically to Britain, suppressed the All-Ireland Dail which was the embodiment of the Republic. For the Republican Movement then, a Republican today is one who rejects the two Partition States in Ireland and gives his allegiance to and seeks to restore the 32-County Republic of Easter Week.”
Therefore, the many Irish patriots named here in the Duleek Hunger Strike Memorial Garden believed in and were of similar mindset to what is included in that quote. This is what they stood for, and most importantly this is what they died for.
I believe Irish Republicanism is at one of the most critical junctures of our time. We must, as a collective, make ourselves and our beliefs more relevant to the Irish people, if we’re to progress our agenda over the next few years. This coming December, marks the centenary of the historic 1918 General Election, which gave the democratic mandate, by the Irish people, to the all-Ireland Republic proclaimed on Easter Week 1916. That election set in place the constitutional legitimacy and claimed Irish Sovereignty for the Irish people like never before. We, as Republicans must ensure that it also marks a significant effort to see that the true Irish Republic is restored. We must formulate a campaign of action, that can unite as many Republican groups as possible towards that end, and at the same time break Britain’s long-running “Normalisation Strategy” in a partitioned Ireland.
While this move will be extremely challenging, it would be good news for the Republican cause going forward, helping to accelerate the prospect of a permanent end to British rule, but this alone will not be enough to realise our core objectives. The all-Ireland Republic will not come about simply as a result of this or born out of demographic change in the North. The situation facing us all, will, demand renewed struggle and a major stepping-up of the promotion of the Republican agenda, on a countrywide basis. The Republic must be taken by Republicans, because history shows, the British and our domestic enemies will not agree to its restoration without some resistance.
The establishments of both States on this island, have become extremely comfortable with the status quo, it suits their agenda. We must also illustrate that continuing British rule in the North is not the only major issue in the Ireland of 2018. The Partition of Ireland that has been in place since 1922, with its unjustifiable claims to our national territory is an usurpation of the democratic process and a violation of the Irish people’s national rights. Partition must be ended and new all-Ireland constitutional arrangements put in place, which secures all our people’s democratic entitlements. The 26-County State also exists in complete defiance of the 1918 General Election, this Southern 26-County State survives while claiming to draw its constitutional line of authority from the 1916 Rising and the all-Ireland General Election of 1918. This couldn’t be further from the truth as it most certainly does not.
Its alleged authority originates from Britain’s Government of Ireland Act 1920, through the sitting of the House of Commons of Southern Ireland formed under this British Act, which actually ratified the Treaty in 1922, and certainly not from the 1918 General Election. The reality was, although the Second Dail Eireann did pass an “illegitimate” Resolution regarding the Treaty, it never had the authority to ratify that document. So this again has been another lie peddled by the Free State for almost one hundred years.
This pretence has been going on now for almost a century, and the promotion of this line of deceit was most obvious during the 1916 Centenary celebrations in 2016, across the 26-Counties. It’s this line of illegitimate authority that the Free State fear most will be exposed, which in turn would expose the true fraudulent nature of its existence since 1922. We Republicans, will have ample opportunity to again expose the true illegitimate nature of the 26-County State, with the upcoming centenary of the birth of the First Dail Eireann in January 2019, and most importantly, with whom the true line of legitimacy of the true all- Ireland Republic lies today. As Ruairi stated in his quote, all of us who believe in giving no credence to the two “partitionist parliaments” created by Britain are true inheritors, so we must continue to act as the custodians of the true all-Ireland Republic, until it is restored, and also to defend its right to exist at every opportunity.
We must not allow the Irish people to continue to be deceived, it is vital that we Republicans tackle these falsehoods at every opportunity over the coming years. The Volunteers named in this garden were not deceived. They knew and understood that this so-called ‘Republic of Ireland’ was not the Irish Republic that so many have fought and died for. They most certainly did not die for a 32-county expanded Free State either. Nor did they die that we might live in the New so-called “Agreed Ireland” now being advocated as being the best option for the future, by many of the constitutional establishment here in the South, including the Provos.
All these men named here, died for the Irish Republic and a complete end to British rule in Ireland. Every Irish Republican, no matter what group they support, must stand, not only as the custodians, but also the promoters of the true all-Ireland Republic, proclaimed in the 1916 Proclamation and ratified by the First Dail Eireann. Our continued efforts must be to bring an end to the usurp of that Republic, and those of us who follow in this mould, must remain steadfast and adamant in its pursuit. We must formulate our demands, under a common banner, that a Third Dail Eireann, proceed from the people, in a re-constituted true all-Ireland Republic. This remains the Republican position and should be the bedrock of all our efforts to restore complete Irish sovereignty.
When I spoke earlier of constitutional arrangements being put in place, we don’t mean amalgamating a corrupt Northern State with a corrupt Southern State in order to make One-Super-Corrupt-State for the Irish people, with direct British involvement. With Britain leaving the European Union and by it doing so, again, highlights the worst vestiges of Partition, it is imperative - now more than ever - that we organise to ensure the failed Six-County State is finally disbanded, and along with it, this sham 26-County State, and that the true all-Ireland Republic is restored, based on the 1916 Proclamation.
This is the challenge ahead, as we head towards the centenary of the 1918 Election, much remains to be done. Republicans need to set out clear parameters as to what should constitute a United Ireland, which in turn, will keep pressure on those within political circles most likely to determine such changes, should the time arrive. As Brexit and the demographic change in the North appears to be speeding-up a new dynamic towards Irish Unity, Republicans must be ready with a robust “plan of action” to promote our Republican agenda, in what will be a period of extreme importance. Ultimately, for us Republicans, any Republic to emerge from the re-unification of our country must be in line with the 1916 Proclamation, proceeding from there and not the engineered constitutional process employed by the British government since 1921 to usurp the Republic. This will be a major issue as the British government and its agents plan for a revised capacity for the Good Friday Agreement, if a Nationalist majority emerges within the Six-Counties.
This is an arrangement they are already working towards, the emerging so-called ‘Agreed Ireland’, if not stopped by Republicans, will agree a role for the British government in our country’s affairs going forward, enforcing a further violation of Irish sovereignty. So the bottom line for Irish Republicans must be, that any future United Ireland must be a Sovereign Independent Country, founded on the right of the Irish people to determine its own affairs, freely, and without any external impediment.
We must therefore be ready to face these critical challenges, we must formulate our own preferred political society for the Ireland we envisage in the event of our country’s re-unification. We must likewise set out a blueprint that determines how this will be achieved based on Republican principles. Irish society at the moment, both North and South, is open to change. Most importantly, I believe it is open to Republican ideas, because of the failure of the status quo to solve our country’s problems for almost a century.
Unfortunately because of the path taken by our former comrades in the Provisionals, what is most absent at this juncture, is the leadership and direction that has traditionally come from Republicanism. Unfortunately if we don’t act quickly, public opinion could easily be steered towards the emerging “Agreed Ireland” agenda. We must be extremely alert to these dangers. We must develop a comprehensive position that sets out the specifics as to how a ‘United Ireland’ will be agreed and by whom. If this is not forthcoming, we are on the road to another doomed settlement:
The Good Friday Agreement Number Two - the all-Ireland version.
It is an Independent Sovereign Irish Republic that we strive towards, not some useless reform of the status quo, nor do we want, what one might call, a more tolerable version of two Partition States, nor Irish Unity under an extended version of the 26-county vindictive Free State. We are out for the Republic, the same Irish Republic whose flame burned strong in the hearts of these heroes named here at this Memorial Garden.
These Volunteers knew and understood when they joined the Republican Movement that their allegiance was to the 1916 Proclamation and the all-Ireland Republic. We, also seek the install a constitution for the true all-Ireland Republic in the image and legitimate line of that timeless document. Like all those martyred Patriots who have gone before us, we uphold the right of the whole island of Ireland to be a Sovereign Independent State. Nothing less is acceptable.