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28 July 2005 Edition

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Let's celebrate

Memory is a powerful thing. There are certain memories that will stay with me for the rest of my life and they come into my mind when I least expect them. All it takes is something small to trigger them off, but they are powerful. They tap into some deep emotion hidden away at the back of my mind.

Like the time I was part of the march to free the Birmingham Six, running through the streets of Dublin with thousands of people with a candle in my hand chanting "they are innocent".

Or on 19 July in Managua, Nicaragua in 1984 with hundreds of thousands of the poorest people in that country celebrating the work that the Sandinista Government was trying to do to eradicate poverty and injustice. Or in South Africa in a stadium when Nelson Mandela addressed the crowd during and election rally in 1994. I remember spontaneously dancing down Castle Street in Belfast with Cruncher O'Neill at the first St Patrick's Carnival parade in Belfast, when over 90,000 people came out on the streets along with the sunshine. And I was so proud to be part of the Anti-Iraq war march with my husband and children with people from every corner of this island. These are memories which I treasure and when they come to me they come in colour. They are part of what make life great.

If I analyse why these events have remained with me it is because they are in technicolour, it is because I was one of the grains of sand that made up something amazing, something so important that 'the little people' came together and said 'enough is enough'. What also made them different is that there was a creative element to them. There were colourful banners (many homemade), witty posters and slogans (again homemade), the people at the rally wanted their village, or homeland, or pueblo or shantytown to be there and to be represented.

Republicans have a very important date and a very important rally coming up — it is a rally to commemorate 100 years of Sinn Féin. On Saturday September 24 the Céad Bliain Committee want every man, woman and child who are proud to be an Irish republican to come to Dublin, by bus, by car, by train, by bicycle, hitching, walking if necessary. We want every cumann in Ireland to be part of this. Get making your banner now, and get your townland, village on the historical map. We want every Sinn Féin elected representative in Ireland to be in Dublin that day to lead off this event. We want ex-political prisoners from all over Ireland and the organisations they are working with to join us. We want you to get your thinking caps on and dress up. Dress up as James Connolly, the pikemen and women, Michael Davitt, Countess Markievicz, Bobby Sands, sporting heroes of the last century, writers, whoever you admire or feel has made their mark. It is the day before the All Ireland Final in Croke Park — why not make a weekend of it.

We have a lot to celebrate, we have a lot to commemorate — over the past 100 years we have seen some of the most dynamic movements in Ireland. We have seen the heroic bravery of the men and women of 1916, the strength of the internees throughout the century, the power of the Civil Rights Movement, the suffragettes, the Hunger Strikers, the growth of the Irish Language Movement.

We have also seen Sinn Féin go from strength to strength and it is now the fastest growing and only All-Ireland party in the country and we are only just beginning — you ain't seen nothing yet! What makes it an exciting movement is that it is made up of people from all walks of life, urban and rural, young and old, people who want to see change on this island.

On September 24 we have an opportunity to stand together proud and strong, celebrating our past and looking forward with confidence to our future. We are living in historic times, our goals have not changed, we are building, block by block, an Ireland of equals, an Independent United Ireland.

Come and join us and make this a great event, a carnival atmosphere, get making your banners and posters and costumes. Start practising your street performing skills and bígí linn I mBaile Átha Cliath.

An Phoblacht Magazine

AN PHOBLACHT MAGAZINE:

  • The first edition of this new magazine will feature a 10 page special on the life and legacy of our leader Martin McGuinness to mark the first anniversary of his untimely passing.
  • It will include a personal reminiscence by Gerry Adams and contributions from the McGuinness family.
  • There will also be an exclusive interview with our new Uachtarán Mary Lou McDonald.

Buy An Phoblacht magazine here

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