There were big attendances for events to mark the Easter Rising across Ireland, including parades at which colour parties defiantly wore traditional combat-style clothing.
On Saturday, Saoradh’s main “Unfinished Revolution” commemoration, organised by its National Republican Commemoration Committee, took place in Belfast for the first time in five years.
The march down the Falls Road then moved to a republican plot at Milltown Cemetery, where a speech was given that accused Fianna Fail and Fine Gael of revisionism and criticised “two failed statelets who continue to uphold British rule in Ireland”.
On arrival at the republican plot at Milltown a statement was read out on behalf of prisoners at Maghaberry, Hydebank and Portlaoise prisons by Tyrone republican Tony Slevin.
The event was led by Saoradh chairman Stephen Murney while the main address was delivered by prominent Belfast member Dee Fennell.
CALL FOR UNITY
In his speech Mr Fennell pressed the theme of republican unity.
“What we currently have is a plethora of small groups similar in ideology but different leaderships, strategy and popularity,” he said.
“This popularity, lets face it, often depends on geographic location, rather than anything else.
“If anyone stands at any genuine republican commemoration this weekend and says that they and their organisation alone can deliver the republic then they are a liar. I am not a liar.”
He said the only way through which the republic can be achieved is “through comradely co-operation and collaboration based on mutual respect”.
“As we all know the fist is stronger than any individual finger and we have committed ourselves to making that fist a reality,” he said.
“Others should be willing to do the same, following the example of the various organisations that coalesced in 1916.
“It is a radical departure such as this that I personally believe will reinvigorate and reenergise republicanism by increasing its appeal to you people and others who will drive it forward in the future.”
More than a thousand attended a rally in Derry organised by the Derry 1916 Commemoration Committee, where Stephen Murney was the main speaker. He criticised recent raids on republicans in the city and concluding his speech, the Newry-based republican said: “So long as you continue to oppress us you will meet with the inescapable consequences. Historically oppression breeds resistance... it isn’t enough to shout ‘up the IRA’, the important thing is to join the IRA.”
The main Irish Republican Socialist Movement parade took place in Belfast, where a masked republican colour party led the parade from Dunville Park down the Falls Road. The James Hope Republican Flute Band, James Connolly Republican Flute Band, and Kevin Lynch Republican Flute Band took part, while the main oration was delivered by local IRSP representative Michael Kelly.
REPUBLICAN SINN FÉIN
Members and supporters of Republican Sinn Féin held a large number of commemorations and wreath-laying ceremonies across Ireland.
At one of the party’s main events in Lurgan, County Armagh, wreaths were laid at the garden of remembrance in the Kilwilkie estate and at the republican plot in nearby St Colman’s Cemetery.
In a statement issued on behalf of the “leadership of the republican movement” those involved in brokering the peace deal were criticised.
“The establishment in Ireland and Britain are self-congratulating themselves on a great job done,” the statement said.
It added that the agreement has “institutionalised sectarianism in the occupied six counties”.
“There is only peace for those who accept the British occupation; for those that do not or it is suspected they do not there is stop and search, arbitrary arrests and house raids,” the statement said.
TYRONE NATIONAL GRAVES ASSOCIATION
Hundreds of people attended the the Tyrone National Graves Association TNGA event in Carrickmore on Monday.
Several bands took part in the Easter commemoration, one of the best attended in the county each year. Those taking part walked through the village before making their way to a garden of remembrance for a short ceremony during which wreaths were laid.
Marian Vincent, whose brother Patrick was shot dead by the SAS along with three other IRA men in Clonoe in 1992, read the Proclamation. ^he main address was delivered by TNGA member Caoimhe Lynch who said that despite the Easter Rising taking place 107 years ago “Ireland is not free”.
She said “women and children are crippled by the manacles of oppression and partition”. Ms Lynch added that those present in Carrickmore “reaffirm the belief set out in the meeting of the first Dail in 1919”.
NATIONAL GRAVES ASSOCIATION/SINN FÉIN
Large crowds people gathered in west Belfast to watch the annual National Graves Association Easter Rising parade and an address given by Sinn Féin MP John Finucane.
Speaking to the rally at Milltown Cemetery, Mr Finucane said that Ireland today is a very different place to the Ireland of 1998 when the Good Friday Agreement was signed.
“Last year’s historic Assembly election marked another seismic moment in our journey,” he told those gathered. “An Irish republican woman became First Minister Designate committed to working for all in a state designed to ensure it could never happen.
“Since that election, the DUP has used the Protocol as an excuse to boycott the political institutions and prevent Michelle O’Neill from becoming a First Minister for all.
“The negotiations are now over and the recent agreement between London and Brussels has been adopted into EU law. The deal gives our businesses a huge competitive advantage as a gateway to the British and EU Single Market.”
He said the DUP saw Brexit as an opportunity to harden the border in Ireland.
“They failed. They now must recognise that they failed, and get on with the business of representing those who elected them within the institutions of the Good Friday Agreement.”
He said the eyes of the world are once again on Ireland on the 25th anniversary of the Good Friday Agreement as well as the visit of US President Joe Biden this week.
“The onus is on the British and Irish governments and the political parties, not least the DUP, to get back to business and form a government to deal with the issues facing all our people.”
Sinn Féin President Mary Lou McDonald addressed the party’s annual commemoration of the 1916 Rising at Arbour Hill on Sunday. She and vice-president Michelle O’Neill attended the Dublin government’s official 1916 Rising ceremony at the GPO in Dublin, the headquarters of the Rebellion.
President of Ireland Michael D Higgins and Taoiseach Leo Varadkar led the ceremony during which the tricolour flag on top of the GPO was lowered and the 1916 proclamation was read out by an Irish soldier.
President Higgins then laid a wreath to commemorate those who died in the Rising, and a minute’s silence was observed. The flag was then raised again before the national anthem, Amhran na bhFiann, was played.