Sinn Féin’s Deputy First Minister in the north of Ireland was among a group of dignitaries who were the subject of a loud protest in Dublin on Saturday, July 10 as they took part in a wreath-laying ceremony for British soldiers.
Michelle O’Neill joined the DUP First Minister Paul Givan, 26 County Ministers and senior British military figures and embassy officials in the event to mark the Battle of the Somme, which was organised by the British Legion in Dublin.
It is the first time Ms O’Neill has attended a British military wreath-laying ceremony, although senior Sinn Féin figure Mitchel McLaughlin attended a similar event in 2015.
The event took place at the Irish National War Memorial at Islandbridge, and was addressed by representatives from the British Legion from both parts of Ireland.
Anti Imperialist Action Ireland held a protest which it described as a “direct action against the presence of British Imperialists and the British Military in Ireland”.
“The Revolutionary Socialist Republicans managed to get inside the security cordon and into the Imperialist War Memorial with a large banner the read ‘No to the Glorification of Imperialist Wars- Brits Out!’ while others displayed the Starry plough flag and placards that read ‘Britain Out of Ireland’ and ‘Saor Éire anois’,” they said.
They claimed their protest prevented a wreath-laying at the official Cenotaph and forced its reorganisation for one of the small rose gardens at the memorial.
“As the British Ministers from Stormont, joined representatives of the Free State administration, the British Military and the British Embassy, the Socialist Republicans could be heard chanting, ‘Stop the Glorification of Imperialist War’, ‘Britain Get Out of Ireland’ ‘Imperialists not Welcome’ ‘Remember Bloody Sunday, Ballymurphy and the Dublin and Monaghan Bombings,” they said.
“The look of shame and embarrassment on the faces of those attending and the organisers was telling.”
A member of the group described the display of British military strength in Dublin as “a deep insult to the Irish people” while Britain continues its illegal occupation of Ireland.
“The Struggle for National Liberation and Socialist Revolution continues today, and will continue until the reestablishment of the All Ireland People’s Republic,” he said.
“Actions such as we have taken today are important to demonstrate that Resistance against Imperialism in Ireland continues and that Revolutionary Socialist Republicans will continue to be at the forefront of opposing Imperialism in every part of Ireland.
“Its long past time for Britain to declare a withdrawal from Ireland. Britain Should get out of Ireland now.’
However, Ms O’Neill said she was only paying her respects “to all those who lost their lives and remembering the enormous loss felt by so many”.
She hoped her attendance demonstrated her commitment to the “principles of equality and parity of esteem for all identities and traditions on this island”.