A sudden escalation in the online censorship of republican groups is being seen as an attempt by anti-republican forces to shut down this year’s Easter Rising commemorations.
Facebook has locked, removed or deleted a large number of pages that support a variety of Irish political groups, as well as the personal accounts of their members.
Saoradh has been attempting to publicise its national Easter event in Derry, the first major commemoration in two years as a result of Covid-19 lockdowns, and at which thousands are expected.
In response to the censorship, Saoradh has instructed a law firm to initiate legal proceedings against Facebook in Belfast, citing Article 14 of the European Convention on Human Rights which guarantees the right to freedom of expression. Similar proceedings are being planned against Twitter, which has also censored the party.
Saoradh members based in Dublin, Derry and Munster were among those whose accounts were locked. A member of Saoradh in Dublin and the administrator of a popular Facebook page called Irish Revolutionaries had his account removed twice before it was finally closed.
Patrick Gallagher, a party spokesman whose own account has been shut down, said the Facebook pages in question did not condone violence but were used to highlight community, social, and economic issues.
“The continuing pattern over the past number of years, and in particular over the last few months, is one of censorship to the traditional voice of republicanism,” Mr Gallagher said.
Saoradh linked the closures to Easter commemorations which traditionally see speeches and statements issued in tribute to Ireland’s fallen and in support of the ongoing struggle for freedom and unity.
“This is far from a coincidence,” Saoradh said. “However this latest setback won’t stop Republicans from celebrating and remembering our patriot heroes.
“The continuing pattern over the past number of years, and in particular over the last few months, is one of censorship to the traditional voice of Republicanism.
“It is a daily challenge to free speech and an attempt to curtail the Republican narrative and the exposing of the ongoing occupation of Ireland.”
Saoradh’s main “Unfinished Revolution” Easter Commemoration takes place on Easter Monday, April 18th, at 2.30pm in Derry, where the party “will honour the patriots of 1916 and all our martyred dead as we recommit ourselves to achieving the vision laid out in the Proclamation of 1916.”
Both Sinn Féin and Republican Sinn Féin are also organising scores of local Easter commemorations and wreath-laying events. They have urged supporters to contact their local branch or cumann for details.
Sinn Féín North Belfast MP John Finucane will be the keynote speaker at the annual Drumboe Martyrs Commemoration on Easter Sunday in Stranorlar. The parade will leave from Johnston’s Corner (McClay’s Corner) in Stranorlar at 3pm.
The Joseph Plunkett Society Clady/Glebe of the 1916 Societies are going to host a “Rally for Unity and Independence”. The rally will assemble at 2pm at Cloughfin, Clady, County Tyrone. Prominent Republican speakers will be in attendance.
Duleek 1916-1981 Monument Committee has announced it will hold an Easter commemoration on Friday, 15 April 2022. The event will take place at the Station Road commemorative garden, Duleek. The speaker is Westmeath republican, Peter A Rogers.
And the family of Joe McCann have also announced details to to mark the 50th anniversary of his death, which takes place in Belfast this Easter weekend
Mr McCann, a leading member of the Official Republican Movement, was killed 50 years ago by members of the Parachute Regiment.
On April 15th, Good Friday, there will be a family event in Joy Street at 2 pm, the site of his death. All are welcome to attend and pay their respects. The Pat Finucane Centre is providing an ‘In Their Footsteps’ display (weather permitting) followed by the main commemorative event at 2.30 pm.
From 4 pm until 5.50 pm there will be an exhibition on ‘The poisonous legacy of colonialism’ at The West, 370 Falls Road followed by a series of Irish music and dancing events, concluding with Music in the Glen traditional band from 6pm to 11pm.