The following is the oration delivered at the annual Easter commemoration in Duleek this weekend by independent republican Cáit Trainor.
Like many Republicans in Ireland and across the globe, we gather here today to commemorate the many men and women who have gave their lives for Irish Freedom. We use the historic 1916 rising anniversary as a time for us to gather, however, we do not commemorate only those who fought and died in 1916, we pay tribute to all those who gave their lives in pursuit of the Irish Republic since the occupation of our land began to present day.
Easter is a very apt time for a rising to take place. For Christians, it symbolises a time of sacrifice and resurrection, and the rising symbolises the same for us. The rebels undoubtedly knew that they would be sacrificing their lives, sacrificing their very lives for their country and its people. With their sacrifice, the Republic was born and with it, hope resurrected for the Irish nation, which to this day cannot be and will not be quelled.
Easter rising commemorations up and down the country take many forms, some will have music while others will not, some will have orations, others a roll of honour. The one thing that is consistent and uniform is the reading aloud of 1916 Proclamation, it acts as a reminder to us all as to why we gather. We do not read it merely because it is tradition, The Proclamation is not some historical relic; it is a living document and serves as the cornerstone of our ideology, for within the text lies our convictions, principles and political creed.
Our ideology is not one of tradition, it is a vibrant and live view of the world, it is one shared by many people in Ireland, do not believe the media spin, that we are somehow a disgruntled minority. However, Republicanism is very much under attack in modern Ireland. Both states north and south are on a quest to criminalise and stamp out the Republican Spirit of the Irish people.
In the 26 counties, we have seen an upsurge in the number of IRA membership charges, it seems every other day a Republican is facing the Special Criminal Court; this year alone we have seen a number Republicans convicted and sent to Portlaoise prison to serve sentences of a few years or more. It is clear that this onslaught of IRA membership charges are brought against Republican activists in an attempt to censor them, an attempt to hamper the good work they are doing. Any Republican can be arrested and charged with IRA membership; all it takes is the ‘belief’ of a Chief Superintendent. No evidence needed, simply the “belief” of one person.
The public is apathetic towards such things, they are not aware of the high number of people charged, in their mind, the war is over, the jails are full of criminals, there are no Political Prisoners. Oh, how the truth would shatter their illusions, but shatter their illusions we must.
In the North, we have constant harassment of Republican activists, stop and searches, house raids and arrests of Republican activists are a daily occurrence. All of this, of course, is to be expected, we are after all enemies of the state, we cannot expect fair play or justice from a state that wishes to see us subjugated and controlled.
If confirmation was ever needed of how the British view Justice in Ireland, it came only a number weeks ago when British Secretary of State to Ireland Karen Bradley stated in the British House of Commons that British Soldiers who murdered innocent Irish Civilians “were people acting under orders and instructions, fulfilling their duties in a dignified and appropriate way.”
For the families of those murdered by the British State, this statement brought trauma and upset, that somehow their loved ones were deserving of the terrible barbarous murder visited upon them by armed gunmen of a Foreign occupational country.
Days later, we found out that only one of the British Soldiers involved in the mass murder in Derry on Bloody Sunday would face prosecution. This very same soldier was the only one to have admitted shooting someone and so, it was difficult for the British state to cover up for him, had he not admitted it and kept quiet as the rest of the war criminals did, he too would undoubtedly have literally gotten away with murder.
There are those that somehow think the present British Government is different from its predecessors, that Irish people now have a say in their own affairs through the Belfast agreement and power sharing, that the crimes of the British Government are resigned to the past, the dark old days. To believe that the British State takes the murder of Irish citizens seriously today is laughable. To date, only four British soldiers have been convicted of murder while occupying the six counties. All four were released after serving only two or three years of life sentences and subsequently allowed to re-join the British Army.
For the families of those murdered, I very much empathise and support them in their continued pursuit of justice, the Republican people of Ireland will always stand behind them.
As Republicans, however, we know only too well there is no justice to be had, the only thing we want and demand from the British is their Intent to withdraw from our Country.
Throughout our history, there have been deals and negotiations ongoing with the British government, people negotiating with them thinking they are smart and can get us further down the road with constitutionalism, throughout it all, not once have the British gave their intention to withdraw from our country nor have any of these negotiations bore any fruit. The only thing these deals have brought us is sell-outs and surrender.
I believe far from calling for referendums or polls we must make our demand a call for a declaration of intent to withdraw from our country. This declaration of intent to withdraw will truly allow the Irish people to decide their own fate and will focus all parts of the Irish nation on building a new Ireland, the Belfast agreement has failed as have all other compromises with British imperialism, there can be no compromise on the sovereignty of our country. Britain is the source of all our political evils and to secure a lasting and final peace in Ireland we must have independence.
We do not propose that independence is enough. The Irish Republic must truly live up to an expectation of equality and justice. The new government must be inclusive of all the people of Ireland regardless of political affiliation, class, colour or religion. I believe that a Federal Republic truly proposes a real change, where all parts of Ireland would have a real say in the running of their country, where power is taken down to a local level. No more will the Irish people live under the tyranny of faraway masters, be at the mercy of those in position with privilege and a stake in keeping the majority down. The Irish people must now be the masters of their own destiny; we must create an Ireland for all without foreign interference, free from sectarian hatred and oppression. A chance for all to prosper.
We all have a great love for our Country and our people, Republicans have always regretted the tragic, human cost of armed actions in campaigns past. The greatest amongst our number have been keenly aware of taking such responsibility. You may recall at the end of Easter Week 1916, Padraig Pearse, one of the great minds of Irish republicanism, directed the forces of the Army of the Irish Republic to end all hostilities. Pearse chiefly did this, not in any way to apologise for what Republicans had set out to do that Easter Monday, but explained that he did so, not only to save the lives of the Volunteers but to prevent the further loss of life among the ordinary people of Dublin as the British forces closed in on the rebel locations.
One influence on Pearse taking such a decision was witnessing an ordinary Dublin family get gunned down near a British barricade on Moore Street. He too would also have been aware a Volunteer had just accidentally shot dead a teenage girl as the GPO garrison gained entry to the terrace on Moore Street.
To come to such a decision revealed a maturity of political thought and pragmatism among Pearse and those of the Provisional Government, that in difficult times we would do well to take inspiration from, as much as we do always, of their great revolutionary ideals.
They say the rising lasted six days, but let us send a message from this place here today, the rising never ended, until the day our Country is Free from British Rule let no one tell us that the rising is over!
For we must continue until that certain day, and the Brits and all their armies can rest assured that the Irish people have not been bought or pacified, that while they continue to occupy Ireland there will never be a time when Republicans will not labour and toil or inhabit this land.
An Phoblacht abú