A round-up of statements and speeches issued for the Easter commmemorations 2020.
SPEECH BY SINN FEIN LEADER MARY LOU MCDONALD
Inniu cuimhnímid ar na mná agus na fír a bhuail buille ar son saoirse na hÉireann in 1916 agus iad siúd ó gach glúin ó sin amach, a bhfuil bainteach leis an streachailt do neamhspléachas na hÉireann, d’Éirinn Aontaithe, agus do phoblacht uile-oileáin.
Today we remember all those who stood for Ireland’s freedom in 1916 and those from every generation since, who have struggled for Irish independence, Irish unity, and an all-Ireland republic.
Ba mhaith liom beannachtaí a ghabháil inniu do na teaghlaigh agus na cairde d’ár tírghráthóirí marbha.
I especially want to send greetings today to the families and friends of our patriot dead.
This year, we remember our them in a different way, but with the same sense of pride, gratitude and admiration.
We gather together online, all over Ireland and across the world to pay tribute to them all.
Tá muid fíor bhuíoch daoibhse go léir.
One-hundred-and-four years ago, history was made - Irish separatists, republicans, socialists, feminists, and Irish language activists coalesced in a great revolutionary effort to liberate Ireland, to establish a democratic republic on this island.
The republican vision of national independence and equality were reflected in the Proclamation of the Republic, read by Pádraig Mac Piarais outside Dublin’s GPO.
Those ideals motivated each subsequent generation of Irish republicans.
We are proud to stand in that revolutionary tradition and we are determined to achieve those noble aims.
The Easter Rising was followed by the executions of our leaders, the imprisonment of activists, the Sinn Féin election victory of 1918 and the establishment of the revolutionary Dáil Éireann in 1919.
The Irish people had rallied to the cause of an Irish republic.
The British Government refused to recognise the democratic will of the Irish people and instead embarked on a war of subjugation.
1920 was a year of heroism in Ireland but also of suffering and tragedy.
It saw the introduction to Ireland of Britain’s Black and Tans and Auxiliaries.
It witnessed a series of spectacular actions by IRA flying columns.
It was also marked by the deaths of Tomás Mac Curtain, Terence MacSwiney and Kevin Barry and of Bloody Sunday in Croke Park in Dublin.
The war waged by the IRA throughout 1920, supported by ordinary people across this country, became an inspiration for future freedom fighters around the world.
Despite attempts at revisionism by the political establishment, Irish people remember our struggle proudly and unapologetically.
1920 tragically closed with Britain’s Government of Ireland Act, which provided for the Partition of our country.
When partition happened, the northern state became a by-word for discrimination, injustice and denial of rights.
The repression and brutality meted out by the unjust, apartheid unionist state against anyone who dared to challenge it was laid bare for the world to see as the state attempted to beat and brutalise the Civil Rights Movement.
Long years of conflict and loss followed.
They were brought to a close through the recognition of the causes of conflict and the ending of the politics of exclusion.
Real leadership gave us the Good Friday Agreement and a new democratic pathway more than twenty years ago.
Those who fought and died for Irish Freedom were ordinary people who demonstrated extraordinary levels of bravery, selflessness and determination.
On the morning of the Easter Rising, many volunteers would have held their loved ones close, kissed their children and in a quieter moment, reflected on the enormity of the task ahead.
This is the stuff of human heroism.
It is this heroism we call on again today.
Every day, frontline workers, and our healthcare workers in particular, leave the sanctuary of their homes knowing that they will face trauma, sorrow and pain.
Knowing that they face the possibility of a Coronavirus infection.
And yet, they still do it.
They walk into that storm.
They put themselves at risk to help others.
It is often said that;
Courage is not the absence of fear.
Courage is acting in spite of fear.
Our frontline workers are now proving this to be true.
Our communities have responded to their leadership.
Our people are living the meaning of ‘Ní neart go cur le chéile’ – there is no strength without unity.
As we pull together, the values of our nation are seen in our cities, towns and villages.
Generosity, decency and the belief in being a good neighbour.
Our people look beyond concern for themselves to the safety and the well-being of others.
I want to express my admiration and thanks to all those who take the time to check on the elderly and others at risk in our communities.
Nobody is safe unless we are all safe.
Every act of selflessness, no matter how small, helps in our fight against this virus.
Every act of kindness brings us closer to the shore.
We should never forget the lessons we are have learned in these weeks.
That unequal societies are vulnerable societies, economically as well as socially.
That togetherness and solidarity is the answer.
It makes our society stronger.
That public services are the bedrock of a decent society.
That those who really keep our economy and our society functioning are not the banks or the hedge funds or the insurance industry, or the vulture capitalists.
No. It’s the nurses, doctors, lorry drivers, shop workers, farmers, ambulance drivers, paramedics, carers, Gardaí and many, many others.
Many of these essential workers are disgracefully low paid.
Many have only recently had to strike for better conditions.
This pandemic underlines the common-sense need to put the interests of workers and families first.
This must be the case all of the time, not only in extraordinary times.
The failure by successive governments to address the issues of housing and health over many years has made our fight against the Covid-19 all the more difficult.
Coronavirus thrives in overcrowded and unsuitable accommodation.
It thrives where there is a lack of capacity in the health service.
The refusal of successive governments to stand up to the banks and the insurance industry has resulted in disgusting profiteering even during this crisis.
After the last economic crash, Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael forced the people to pick up the tab and bail out the banks.
This must never happen again.
A Government of the people must ensure that the banks and the financial institutions play their part on the other side of this unprecedented crisis in bailing out our people.
We must build a fair society which truly values all those people, those who have stood in the way of danger - sa bhearna baoil - for all of us.
The Covid 19 crisis highlights yet again the negative impact of partition on our island.
In the North, Sinn Féin ministers are delivering for the community.
We worked hard to see the establishment of an Executive in the north and our ministers are now to the fore in creating new politics, working with their ministerial colleagues from other parties to protect lives and livelihoods.
I welcome the recent Memorandum of Understanding agreement between the Northern Executive and the Irish Government to tackle Covid-19 and to protect the lives and welfare of everyone on our island.
This agreement commits health services North and South to develop agreed public health measures.
This is essential work.
This deadly virus does not recognise borders.
Working together in common action is in everyone’s interests and is vital now and in the time ahead to save lives.
Sinn Féin is committed to this.
As we pull together in a great public effort to defeat this pandemic, we also urgently need a stable government to lead and deliver the change that is so badly needed.
February’s General Election saw the greatest result for Sinn Féin since 1918.
Now, people in each of Ireland’s 32 counties are represented by a Sinn Féin TD or MP.
Voters swept aside the old, tired and failed two-party system and reshaped the political landscape.
For the first time, neither Fianna Fáil or Fine Gael won the largest share of the popular vote, and for the first time ever the combined forces of political conservatism failed to win a Dáil majority.
Sinn Féin, advocating a vision of far-reaching political, economic and social change, made huge gains.
So too did other parties who campaigned for change.
Real, tangible change is what people very clearly endorsed.
Change means being able to afford the roof over your head.
It means being able to pay your rent.
Being able to see a doctor when you are sick and an end to scandalous trolley counts and waiting lists.
Change means childcare that doesn’t break the bank.
It means the guarantee of your right to a state pension at the age of 65.
Change means responding to the climate emergency with climate justice.
It means planning for a new Ireland, a United Ireland.
That demand for change is now being frustrated and blocked.
The latest chapter in the drama between Leo Varadkar and Michéál Martin is not about national unity, no more the last four years were about ‘new politics’.
This cosy-club arrangement is not about delivering for people.
On the contrary. It is about facing down the change mandated by the people.
It is about power.
Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael have passed power between themselves for decades and have governed in the interests of the those at the top.
They are determined to keep it that way.
Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil are coming together not out of a sense of public duty.
They have come together to keep Sinn Féin out.
They try to hoodwink the public into believing they are going to implement our policies.
But you know they can’t be trusted.
Their objective of keeping us out of government, rather than accepting the scale of change Ireland now needs, is cynical and dishonest.
They know this.
It is particularly so at a time of national emergency.
The politics of exclusion have never worked on this island.
Attempts to exclude Sinn Féin have always failed.
Attempts to disenfranchise our voters have always failed.
As republicans we will not be deterred.
We will stand up for workers and families, we will rally people for the change that is needed.
We will never give up.
For Sinn Féin, 1916 is unfinished business.
Our central political aim is to deliver the type of Ireland envisaged at Easter week.
I know that so many people support Sinn Féin and rely on us to be the party that builds a fair economy, that brings social justice and a new, united Ireland.
Working together, and with the support of the people, we will get there.
We will not let you down.
So this Easter let us pledge that, together, we will continue that path pursued by those we honour today .
That we are the generation to write the next chapter of our history – a new Ireland, an equal Ireland a United Ireland.
We are living through very difficult times.
We have had difficult times in our history and we came through them together.
We will get through this pandemic together and we will build that better Ireland envisaged by our heroes of Easter week.
Ar aghaidh linn le chéile. An Phoblacht Abú!
Happy Easter, my friends.
SAORADH NATIONAL EASTER STATEMENT 2020
On this the 104th anniversary of the Easter Rising of 1916, Saoradh re-dedicate ourselves to the Irish Republic as proclaimed on the steps of Dublin on Easter Monday of that year. We extend solidarity to our membership, support base and the Republican Prisoners and their families. Saoradh also send fraternal best wishes to all those fighting to overthrow capitalist, colonial, imperialist and occupation regimes, and all those imprisoned for doing so.
This anniversary occurs in the midst of unprecedented circumstances nationally and globally due to the coronavirus. Our priority at this time is to ensure we do not exacerbate this crisis by organising mass gatherings contrary to international health standards. Therefore Saoradh took the responsible decision to cancel our National, regional and local commemorative events.
This crisis has far reaching and heartbreaking consequences across the globe. Here in Ireland most of us will be directly or indirectly affected at some stage, if we have not been already. Our comradeship and community based activism will become ever more important in the time ahead. Especially when the tide of illness abates and those within the capitalist and privileged classes who have sought to profit from this misery are to be held accountable by Republicans and Socialists such as ourselves.
In the last year Saoradh has sought to embed ourselves within communities via radical action that seeks to empower the working class. This has undoubtedly been evident more so in certain areas, while in others we are sowing seeds that will grow in the short, medium and long term.
Internal discussions and debates have sought to educate and inform our members according to a specific ideological position that has been formed by consensus. This is an ongoing process that will benefit our membership and those we fight on behalf of. Our growth is identifiable, with a steady and significant increase in membership across the entire year, including the establishment of a craobh outside Ireland for the first time.
At the same time the enemies of Republicanism have been attempting to consolidate their own positions. The British Army remains in Occupied Ireland in their thousands, assisted by hundreds of MI5 operatives. Thousands of armed Crown Force militia patrol our streets. All of this is fully supported by the dysfunctional and long-standing failed political experiments at Stormont and Leinster House, presided over by the most ideologically right-wing British Government since partition.
Therefore it is incumbent upon Saoradh, and the wider Republican Movement, to embrace the societal changes that will undoubtedly flow from the global health crisis we now find ourselves in. It isnt enough for capitalism to refer to people as “essential workers”, instead of their previous description of “low skilled workers”. Workers need to be organised collectively to ensure that Irish society is transformed in the way that Connolly dreamed.
The only way this emancipation of the working class can be achieved is via freedom, national self-determination and the Republic. Nothing less.
Connolly and those who fought to try and achieve our freedom gave everything, including their lives and liberties for the working class and we in Saoradh will give our utmost to carry on the flame. We will stand up for the oppressed, we will stand shoulder to shoulder with the working class, we will continue the fight against capitalism.
We again reiterate our commitment to bringing about and effecting positive change within our communities. We honour the past of our ancestors by taking up the mantel of those who went before us in the struggle for full freedom for our country. Freedom from exploitation, freedom from greed and privilege, freedom from Britain.
Where other false prophets have bent the knee and have been subsumed by the British and capitalism, Saoradh have come from those who will not bend and refused to be subsumed and together, we will see the rising of the moon.
STATEMENT ISSUED IN THE NAME OF THE IRISH REPUBLICAN ARMY (NEW IRA)
“ The leadership of the Irish Republican Army extends fraternal greetings to Republican activists and to our supporters and friends at home and abroad.
We salute the Volunteers of the Irish Republican Army and applaud their discipline, determination and continuing steadfast commitment to the cause for which those we commemorate have given their lives.
We also send solidarity greetings to our imprisoned comrades and their families.
On this, the 104th anniversary of the 1916 Easter Rising, we especially remember our patriot dead. We commemorate the freedom fighters of all generations who have given their lives for Irish freedom.
Responsibility for the ongoing conflict rests firmly on the shoulders of the British Government. While British occupation persists particularly through those who implement its policies via Stormont, the Irish people are denied their right to national self determination and sovereignty. Faced with this reality we remain committed to bringing the British government’s undemocratic rule of the occupied part of our country to an end.
While we face an unprecedented health crisis, it won’t be long until Brexit and it’s continuing difficulties for Britain re-emerges. This has reinvigorated the topic of a reunified Ireland. Revisionist agendas and former Republicans turned British politicos endorsing a border poll will not force the hand of the British establishment. They listen to one thing and one thing only; physical force.
Despite an increased Crown Force presence and a restocked war chest, we have demonstrated again and again that we retain the capacity and resources to continue to strike against those maintaining British occupation. Everyone should be assured that we are united, we are strong and we remain steadfast in our determination to achieve our objectives.
We have repeated often in the past and do so again now; the IRA can strike at will. We warn the public to be aware of this and to remain a safe distance from Crown Force vehicles at all times.
In commemorating those who have died in the cause of freedom our most fitting tribute is a renewal of our commitment to the cause for which they selflessly gave their lives. Our objectives remain the reunification of our country and the establishment of a 32 County Socialist Republic. We will not be deflected from these.
STATEMENT ISSUED IN THE NAME OF REPUBLICAN PRISONERS (IRPWA)
Republican Prisoners incarcerated in Portlaoise, Maghaberry and Mountjoy Gaols send solidarity greetings to all anti-imperialist prisoners here and throughout the world. We also send revolutionary greetings to the leadership and volunteers of the Irish Republican Army and to our friends and supporters worldwide. We also remember with pride all of those who have given there lives in the pursuit of Irish Freedom. We also take this time to once again thank Saoradh and the IRPWA for their ongoing support for Irish Republican Prisoners and their families, especially in the current climate.
Traditionally, Easter messages from Republican Prisoners are read aloud from a platform, or beside Republican plots, attended by different generations of Irish Republicans. Sadly, this year most of you are most likely reading or listening to this on a very different platform. The absence of genuine leadership in the occupied six counties and the decision to put profit before the people will result in the loss of many lives, while desperate pleas for donations of basic protective equipment from hospitals all over the free state has shown how under-resourced the Health Care system down south is. While the perceived British elite of society such as Charlie Windsor and Boris Jonson and numerous Irish so-called ‘personalities’ secure tests and results at a moment’s notice, the very people faced with the enormous task of dealing with the pandemic, the nurses’ doctors and other frontline workers face an anxious wait.
If the current Covid-19 pandemic has shown one thing, it’s that successive capitalist governments on this island have laid bare the plight of the most vulnerable in our society. As billionaire corporations look for bailouts while simultaneously disposing of their employees, the working class on this island have been unified in their response. It is those who have suffered job losses or who have very little by way of finance who are out collecting and donating vital equipment to hospitals or shopping for neighbours who are no longer in a position to do so for themselves.
For our part, Republican prisoners as a collective in both the free state and occupied six counties have shown great leadership in implementing changes to our own living conditions during the current health pandemic. Prisoners have put the well being of their comrades first by cancelling visits and temporary releases while changing routines and habits, to ensure the well being of the most vulnerable on our landings and indeed the rest of our comrades while sharing what we have collectively. Such socialist living has long been the order of the day for Irish imprisoned revolutionaries. From the camps of Long Kesh and the Curragh, to Frongoch in Wales, Republican prisoners practised the habits of socialism, sharing what they had while putting their talents to use for the betterment of their comrades. Such ideals have enshrined the proclamation of 1916.
This year marks the 104th anniversary of that Easter Rising, one of a number of Risings throughout the ages aimed at ending British Rule in Ireland. Those men and women took a stand for Ireland that morning full in the knowledge that they most likely faced imprisonment, death or both. The unselfishness of their deeds, knowing they would pay the full price for what they hoped could be achieved for others should not be lost on us today.
While Republicans both inside and outside the gaol commit to adhere to the ideals of the 1916 proclamation there are many in society who wish to see us fail. These include an illegal and Imperial armed occupation and former Republicans now in a Stormont government which recognise British rule in Ireland, while supporting the constant harassment of Republicans on the street, using draconian laws to implement drastic stop and search measures at every turn. Also, a free state government who’s police force is headed by Mi5 and who use the tool of the Special Court to gaol Republicans on minimal evidence while implementing sentences far in excess other members of society.
The continued partition of this island, breeds sectarianism, discrimination, repression and poverty. And to that fore, resistance breeds. The cynics have said we have no mandate, that we have gone to gaol for nothing. Our mandate is the same mandate that drove those such as Wolftetone, O Donovan Rossa, Sean Mac Diarmada, Sean Mc Caughey, Maire Drumm, Mairead Farrell and Jim Lynah to take up armed resistance against the occupation. Irelands troubles are Britains malfeasance. While we have no desire to be in gaol, our desire for national liberation and equality is stronger. As long as Britain occupies Ireland, there will be a generation willing and ready to engage in armed resistance.
The re-emergence of non-conformining Republicans in traditional Republican strongholds up and down the country has been an inspiration to us as Republican Prisoners, knowing the flame continues to burn outside just as it does inside. We again commend Saoradh and IRPWA activists in ensuring the Republican message continues to be carried both here and abroad. As we remember our revolutionary dead today, we ask those of you outside to take the time to rededicate yourselves to the cause, to bring about Irish liberation and equality and ensure that those who have lost their lives and liberty have done so justifiably. In the words of Thomas Mac Donagh “...While Ireland Lives, the brain and brawn of her manhood will strive to destroy the last vestige of British rule in her territory.
Onwards to victory, onwards to a united Ireland.
Tíocfaidh ár lá.
ORATION BY DAN MURPHY (IRSP)
Comrades, this is an Easter the likes of which none of us has seen before. At a time of year when the revolutionary songs of our past fills the air and our streets are full with all manners of Republicans, proudly remembering all those that made the ultimate sacrifice in the cause of Irish freedom.
It is not the case this year. Our streets will be largely silent and completely devoid of the throngs or proud Republicans that usually gather. Ach a chairde this doesn’t matter. Wether it’s from the gravesides of our patriot dead, from our homes or even from prison cells the Irish Republican Socialist Movement has always, and will always, remember with the most immense pride all those that gave their all in the national liberation struggle. In particular all those members of this movement who fell in the struggle for a 32 county socialist republic.
This year it was the intention of the Republican Socialist Movement to pay a special tribute to our fallen comrades whose milestone anniversaries fell this year.
We would ask all our members and supporters to take a second out of their Easter and give a thought to our martyrs and their families. Volunteers Hugh Ferguson; Danny Loughran; Brendan McNamee and Ronnie Trainor whose 45th anniversaries fall this year. Volunteers Miriam Daly; Ronnie Bunting and Noel Little whose 40th anniversaries are this year and Volunteer Alex Patterson whose 30th anniversary has just passed us. Comrades it’s no exaggeration to say that we owe these martyrs our lives, in fact we in the Republican Socialist Movement owe them so much more.
From its inception in 1974 to this present day our enemies have used and continue to use all the means at their disposal to destroy this movement. They have tried to intimidate us, they harass us at every opportunity, they jail us and they have murdered us, yet here we stand. 45 years on from our founding and we’re still here and more than that growing in terms of members and confidence.
The current vitality of this movement; the confidence of its members, and in particular our highly energised and growing youth movement; and most importantly that spirit of resistance, that is, our refusal to bow to any order that would see our people is a subject class did not come about by chance.
It was moulded by the revolutionary theories espoused by Connolly, Costello and Power; and it was resolutely defended by all our comrades that went before us. Whilst reflecting on the lessons of our forebears it’s imperative that we remember that their struggle, that is our struggle, is far from finished.
No where is that struggle more evident than in Ireland today. In the midst of this global pandemic we have watched all those so called “wealth creators” disappear into their multi-million pound fortresses whilst their workers were left without jobs or wages. We look on whilst these parasites ruthlessly exploit this crisis while the rest of us face loosing everything.
Most disgustingly we watch on as those companies that can still operate actively put their workers lives at risk by not providing the appropriate protective equipment to carry out their work, solely to keep a flow of capital for these human leeches to feed on.
It’s here comrades that the most blatant contradiction of the capitalist system is laid bare. Any economic system that prioritises capital over human life, which actively kills off or endangers those on who it relies is not sustainable in normal times let alone during a crisis of this calibre. Here in Ireland this crisis has been exacerbated by partition. Both jurisdictions on the island failed to work in sync when putting in place measures to deal with this crisis and both went in completely opposite directions. Ireland was, to an effect, used as some kind of experiment in testing which strategy would be more effective and as we’re seeing and will continue to see it will be the Irish working class to pay the price of this. In the occupied 6 counties we have an executive that has allowed the response to this pandemic to be politicised within the sectarian confines of this state, our lives took second precedent to this.
Comrades whilst it’s important to keep in mind the gravity of the current crisis, it’s just as important that we highlight the positive stories happening in the midst of the madness. When this kicked off and the capitalist class disappeared with all the money that was a result of our labour leaving many in our communities without an income, the Irish working class came together as they always do.
Across the country working class communities have come to the fore in looking after our most vulnerable. The Republican Socialist Movement commends all those community and political activists that have supported the community response. We are especially proud of our own members who have been at the fore front of community support efforts.
Comrades whilst we may not be able to remember our fallen comrades in our usual way, I can tell you with confidence that their sacrifice and commitment to this movement and to this country has been the guiding light for us during these uncertain times. And it’s here a chairde that we will pay tribute to them, through our actions supporting those who they gave their lives for.
Comrades if there was ever a time to take action against this failed social system it will soon be upon us. Global capitalism is facing a crisis unseen since the depression era. We will not, no we can not! Allow a repeat of 2008, when the capitalist used their political puppets to get bailouts while the rest of us suffered over a decade of austerity.
No more than a few weeks ago our health care workers were standing on picket lines fighting for a basic living wage. Those that fought tooth and nail against them now have the audacity to stand and clap them off to work jobs which they aren’t even properly equipped to do.
Comrades I can tell you where the IRSP were when our frontline staff where standing on the picket, we were with them! At this moment our activists are working round the clock securing, assembling and distributing vital PPE to our frontline staff, and when this is over we will continue to stand beside them. Given the hindrance caused by both partition and capitalism during this crisis the IRSP again reiterates its call for the immediate establishment of an all Ireland national health service.
Comrades we are about to go through a period of rapid political development, and whilst many of us yearn for some semblance of normality we can never return to normal. In the aftermath of this crisis grassroots led unity campaigns will be more important than ever. The IRSP would urge all republicans and socialists to get behind the ongoing Yes For Unity campaign. The purpose of this broad front initiative is to put the maximum amount of pressure on both failed governments on this island to bring an end to partition, we aim to inject the socialist message into the mainstream debate on Irish unity and bring control of that debate to the Irish working class. Comrades in these uncertain times we urge you all to keep yourselves safe, look after your families and your community by following the advice of the medical experts; use this time to prepare ourselves for the struggle ahead. As we enter this new phase of the workers struggle the Irish Republican Socialist Movement will proudly stand where we have always stood!
“We owe our allegiance to the working class”
Go raibh maith agaibh.