20 April 2006 Edition
1916-2006: Easter Commemorations
Huge crowds attend 90th anniversary events
Na Piobairi Uilinn pipe band led a parade of several thousand from Beechmont along the Falls Road to the Republican plot in Milltown Cemetery for the annual Belfast Easter Commemoration. An all-women colour party headed contingents from ex-prisoners groups, members of the National Graves Association and Rodaí Mac Corlaí club.
In Milltown the proceedings were chaired by Liam Shannon.
The main oration was deliovered by Sinn Féin President Gerry Adams who during the course of his address paid tribute to the Belfast republican Charles Monaghan from the Short Strand who died in Easter Week 1916 as he was making his way to Kerry to bring in arms for the Rising.
Quoting Padraig Pearse, Adams said the 1916 leader had got it "exactly right" when during his court martial he described the republican desire for freedom as unstoppable.
"To us it is more desirable than anything in the world. If you strike us down now, we shall rise again to renew the fight. You cannot conquer Ireland. You cannot extinguish the Irish passion for freedom," Pearse had said.
Adressing the current political situation Gerry Adeams said: "The only way Ian Paisley will exercise power is in an Executive with Sinn Fein. The suspension of the Assembly will be lifted on 15 May and Sinn Fein will be in Stormont on that day.
"We will be there for one reason and one reason only, the election of a government in line with the Good Friday Agreement. That also has to be the focus of the Irish and British governments," said Adams.
If Ian Paisley refuses to work with Sinn Fein then "the two governments must deliver on their commitments to jointly implement all the other elements of the Good Friday Agreement and increase substantially all-island harmonisation and management," said Adams.
Calling for republicans to strive to unite Orange and Green, Adams called for dialogue between republicans and unionists. The Sinn Fein leader reassured unionists that republicans weren't in the business of coercing them into a united Ireland. "We seek to build a shared space in which we can all move forward," said Adams.
Speaking at the plot where hunger strikers Bobby Sands, Joe McDonnell and Kieran Doherty are buried, Adams said the British government had "cruelly and cynically" allowed ten men to die while the Irish government "stood back". Adams called on republicans to tell a new generation of Irish republicans the story of 1981 alongside the history of 1916.
• Children carrying Lilies at the Ardoyne commemoration
Hundreds of North Belfast republicans gathered in Elmfield Street in Ardoyne on Easter Tuesday 18 April to mark the 90th Anniveresary of the 1916 Easter Rising.
Dozens of local children, relatives of the many people from the district who lost their lives in the conflict, carried Easter Lilies which they laid at the memorial garden on the Berwick Road.
The parade made it's way through Ardoyne to the small adjoining district, The Bone, and at the Memorial Wall tribute was paid to those from the area who lost their lives.
Louth TD and former H-Block prisoner Arthur Morgan, delivered the main oration.
This year's Easter Parade in the Whitewell area of North Belfast past off peacefully. Traditionally held on Easter Saturday the parades has regularly been attacked by loyalists as it passes the Gray's Lane flashpoint. This year, although loyalists were allowed to congregate behind PSNI landrovers, the parade was not attacked.
The parade, which was one of the largest seen in the area in year proceeded to the Republican Garden of Remembrance at Bawnmore with a dignity and discipline befitting the occasion.
At the Garden of Remembrance former POWs DD McTasney and Franko Taylor, respectively, read the Roll of Honour and the Proclamation before Sinn Féin Councillor Paul Butler, who served time in Magilligan Prison and both the Cages and H-Blocks of Long Kesh, delivered the main oration.
This Easter saw one of it's biggest turnouts in years on the New Lodge with the parades numbers boosted by the attendance of the Volunteer Joe Cahill and Coatbridge Republican Flute Bands from Scotland.The honour of leading the parade however was given to Piobair‚ na Meirleach, the pipe band based in the Felons Club in Belfast.
Among the other groups officially represented at the parade was the New Lodge Ex-Prisoners group.
Many of those on the parade carried framed portraits of loved ones killed in the conflict as well as wreaths which they laid at the Garden of Remembrance.
Caral Ni Chuilin chaired the proceedings, while Donegal Sinn Féin Councillor Pearse Doherty gave the main oration.
Mayor of Kerry Toireasa Ferris speaking at the Crossmaglen Commemoration said that for generations the men and women of south Armagh had been at the very heart of the struggle against British rule in Ireland. She paid tribute to all those from the area who had paid the supreme sacrifice and criticised those who continue to vilify and demonise Irish republicans. Ferris also spoke in Mullaghbawn and Killeen where organisers reported record attendances.
The Cavan Easter Commemoration was held in Kilnaleck where a lone piper and republican colour party led a large crowd and the Bunoe Brass Band to the graveyard at Kill.
Proceedings at the graveside of Volunteer Edward Boylan were chaired by Councillor Pauline McAuley. The main oration was delivered by An Phoblacht Editor Seán Mac Brádaigh who urged people to read the 1916 Proclamation, consider its relevance to Ireland in 2006 and seek to implement its principles.
Mac Brádaigh reminded those assembled that 2006 was also the 25th anniversary of the 1981 Hunger Strike, an event in which he said the people of Cavan and Monaghan had played a hugely significant part when they returned Hunger Striker Kieran Doherty to Leinster House as a TD. "Like the election of Bobby Sands in Fermanagh/South Tyrone, the election of Kieran Doherty in Cavan/Monaghan had a direct bearing on the subsequent development of the struggle and on the political strength we exercise today", he said.
Mac Brádaigh said it was no coincidence that Cavan/Monaghan was the first constituency in the 26 Counties to send a non-abstentionist TD to Leinster House and remains one of the strongest areas of Sinn Féin support in the 26 Counties.
• Sinn Féin Chief negotiator Martin McGuinness and Sandra McLellan, candidate for Cork East, lead off the Cork City comemoration
A crowd of around 2,000 gathered for the commemoration at the republican plot at St Finbar's cemetary in Cork City. Sinn Féin Chief Negotiator Martin McGuinness was the main speaker and the event was chaired by Councillor Jonathan O' Brien, candidate for Cork North central.
The Youghal Republican Flute band played for the occasion.
Martin McGuinness spoke of the proud tradition of republicanism in Cork: "Cork, with its long and vibrant republican tradition, like so many other counties in Ireland has paid a heavy price in its contribution in every phase of that struggle.
"This impressive republican plot, which not only holds the remains of those who fought in the Tan War but is also a monument to the Hunger strikers of 1981, gives expression to the esteem in which these patriots are held.
"Let us never forget all those who died in the struggle. But it would be remiss of me, especially in this the 90th Anniversary not to give special mention to Thomas Kent, one of the 16 executed by the British after the Rising, who still lies where he fell in Cork Barracks a few miles from here.
"As we gather here at this time to remember the men and women of 1916 we also commemorate the 25th anniversary of the 1981 Hunger Strike when ten brave young Irishmen laid down their lives. As those republicans following the Rising refused to allow the British establishment and the West Brit Irish to criminalise their strike for freedom at that time neither will this generation of republicans allow their present day contemporaries to criminalise our struggle.
"Each generation of Irish people has produced contemporaries of 1916, none more so than this generation. The challenge was grasped with courage by a new generation of republicans, many of whom paid the supreme sacrifice. Others found themselves fighting to uphold the vision of 1916 in the hellholes of Long Kesh and Armagh Jail and other prisons across Ireland, England, North America and Europe. The struggle taken up by Pádraig Pearse, James Connolly, Constance Markievicz and their compatriots was carried on by republicans of the highest calibre such as Bobby Sands and Maireád Farrell and their comrades inside and outside of prisons the length and breath of Ireland and further afield.."
McGuinness said that whil working for national unification, republicans should not ignore the plight of the new Irish. "In the spirit of the Proclamation it is vital that the new communities who have made their home in Ireland, people from all over the world who have come here to live, work and study, should be made welcome", he said.
Republicans assembled at Wolfe Tone Square in the West Cork town of Bantry on Easter Saturday evening. Here, Cllr Tim O'Leary chaired the proceedings and the main addressed was delivered by West Tyrone MLA, Barry McElduff.
In his remarks, McElduff compared what happened in Cork in the Tan War years to what happened in the Six Counties throughout the 1970s 1980s and 1990s and he paid particular tribute to Volunteers Dermot Crowley and Tony Ahern who paid the ultimate sacrifice in Tyrone and Fermanagh over thirty years ago.
He reminded those present that 2006 marks the Eightieth Anniversary of the launch by Cumann na mBan of the Easter Lily as a symbol of remembering Ireland's Patriot dead.
A large crowd attended the annual Dungiven Easter Sunday Commemoration. The decision by Limavady Borough Council to formally endorse a series of events commemorating the Easter Rising of 1916 was welcomed by Deputy Mayor Marion Donaghy.
The main speaker Declan Kearney, Chairperson of Sinn Féin's Six County Cúige. He said: "Today's republican struggle has popularised republican ideals and the aim of independence in an unprecedented way. Recent opinion polls revealed that over 80% of voters in the 26 counties seek Irish unity. Sinn Féin is the third largest party on this island, with the potential to grow even bigger and this is clearly demonstrated by the ever growing attendance at this Easter commemoration each year."
Large numbers of Republicans gathered in the Loup, County Derry, on Easter Sunday. The South Derry Martyrs Flute Band led the procession to the graveside of Brigadier Sean Larkin, executed by Free Staters in 1923. Sinn Féin MLA for the area, Geraldine Dougan chaired the proceedings, and Declan Kearney gave the main oration.
In Swatragh proceedings were chaired by Councillor Sean Kerr Cllr. The main Oration was given by Philip McGuigan MLA. There were also a number of wreath-laying ceremonies throughout the County to commemorate the 90th Anniversary of the 1916 Easter Rising and to honour Republicans throughout the years who made the ultimate sacrifice for Irish Freedom.
A commemoration ceremony was held at Drumagarner outside Kilrea on Easter Sunday.
Johnny Donaghy a life-long republican who lost his own brother said that the commemoration "gave dignity to the memory of all those who died and their families, something which is important individually and for the community." Donaghy also paid tribute to those who took part and to the numbers who came along; "it really was an impressive gathering and grows each year" he added.
Sinn Féin councillor Billy Leonard pledged "Sinn Féin's absolute commitment to the continued work of delivering a United Ireland" and to also work hard locally representing people at grass-roots levels. He said there would never again be "second class citizens anywhere in Ireland."
The Drumboe Martyrs Commemoration vwas held in Stranorlar on Easter Sunday. The Strabane Republican Flute Band, Píobairí Uladh from Belfast and The Ranfast Band entertained a crowd of about 1,500 republicans from throughout Donegal and Strabane.
Sinn Féin Dáil leader Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin said: "The Irish Government has a special obligation to act as a truly national government and to advance the cause of Irish reunification. It is not good enough for the members of that Government to stand on the reviewing platform at the GPO today and to continue in the same old way tomorrow. The Irish people cannot attain our full potential socially, economically and culturally until we achieve unity and reconciliation. So let the coming decade - up to the centenary of the Easter Rising in 2016 - be the Decade of Unity".
He went on to say that "The Easter Rising is the defining event and the Proclamation of the Republic is the defining document in the history of Irish Republicanism. Our task is to apply its principles to the Ireland of 2006 and to achieve the united, republican Ireland of equals promised in the Proclamation.
So long as British jurisdiction remains in the North-East of our country the Irish people are denied that fundamental right which is asserted in the Proclamation: 'The right of the people of Ireland to the ownership of Ireland.' He saluted the Rossport Five, "who have stood against Shell and this Government and who have won the admiration of the Irish people".
In conclusion he stated that as republicans "we take the Proclamation seriously and we campaign for the type of Ireland envisaged in that document- an Ireland where all the children of the nation are cherished equally. For that reason we are campaigning for a new health service for Ireland, for an end to the two-tier system and its replacement with access for all to the best care based on need and need alone. Health, education, housing, transport, rural regeneration, on all these issues republicans are active and are working side by side with communities."
Earlier on Easter Sunday large numbers of republicans attended ceremonies at Strabane, Aghyaran and Glenelly cemeteries to honour the memory of local republicans who died in the cause of Irish Freedom.
This year saw the biggest parade in Newry since the 1980's. About 1,500 people took part, marching from the Sinn Féin centre on Patrick's street to the New republican monument on the Warrenpoint road. Two new Sinn Féin cumann banners were also unveiled on the day.
The proceedings were chaired by Seán Mathers ex-pow and chair of Newry Sinn Féin. The main speaker was Pat O' Rawe MLA from Newry/Armagh. She told the large gathering that the most important thing to think about the Proclamation in 2006 was that it was unfinished business "We don't have a united Ireland- yet, we don't have a society where all the children of the nation are cherished equally yet. But we in Sinn Féin believe that we can achieve those aims and create a better society for everyone on this small island- Catholic, Protestant and Dissenter, people from all religions and none, Irish citizens and new communities in our country alike", she said.
The Downpatrick Easter parade as it made it's way from the Sinn Féin office at Scotch Street to the Republican memorial at Thomas Russell Park, on Monday 17 April.
The Downpatrick memorial is sited at the spot where Volunteer Collie Marks was shot dead by undercover RUC units in April 1991.
Russell, dubbed, 'The Man From God Knows Where', was executed in Downpatrick jail for his part in the 1798 Rebellion.
The ceremonies were chaired by Caitriona Mackle. Former POW and Sinn Féin councillor on Belfast City Council Caral Ní Chuilín was the main speaker.
Ní Chuilín, the party's candidate for Mayor of Belfast, welcomed the families of the area's republican dead, including Rosaleen Marks the mother of Volunteer Collie Marks to the memorial.
She spoke of the sacrifice made by republicans over the decades and praised the Volunteers of Oglaigh na hÉireann who challenged the might of the British empire.
She also reminded her audience that, "there remains much unfinished business and this is the generation that will deliver".
Series of events mark 90th Anniversary
A series of events and commemorations were held in Dublin to mark the 90th Anniversary of the 1916 Rising. On 6 April James Connolly's pamphlet Socialism Made Easy was relaunched in the Cobblestone bar in Smithfield.
On Sunday 9 April, in the Irish Film centre, the film H3 about the 1981 Hunger strikes was shown to mark the 25th anniversary of the election victory of Bobby Sands in Fermanagh/South Tyrone.
On Monday 10 April the Countess Markievicz Memorial Lecture was given by former political prisoner Martina Anderson who stressed the role of women throughout the Irish struggle for freedom.
The third annual James Connolloy Memorial Lecture was held at Wynnes Hotel on 11 April. The theme 1916-1981 The Unbroken Connection, was addressed by former political prisoner Gerry McGonagle and Sinn Féin TD Aengus O Snodaigh.
The play Ar an Phlúid, the story of the first H-Block Blanketman Kieran Nugent was well attended and Dublin's annual 1916 Walking Tour had a turnout of over 150 people on Good Friday.
Seán Healy honoured
Over 100 people gathered at Doyles Corner, Phibsboro, on Easter Saturday to witness the unveiling of a plaque in the memory of Sean Healy. Healy was the youngest volunteer martyr of the 1916 Rising. The proposal for a plaque was the first suggested by Sinn Féin Dublin City Councillor Nicky Keogh as a tribute to this forgotten hero of the Rising. "We were amazed that nobody had done anything for Sean and we decided to erect a plaque to him on the 90th anniversary of his death" said Keogh. The ceremony was attended by MEP Mary Lou McDonald and members of the Healy Family who had travelled from England to see their uncle honoured. Jack Doherty, nephew of Sean thanked Councillor Keogh and the Carroll/Ashe Cumann, Sinn Féin for their work to make the plaque possible.
Dublin City Commemoration
The main Easter commemoration in Dublin on 15 April witnessed a crowd of over 1,500 parade from the Garden of Remembrance to Glasnevin where, led by a republican colour party ans Sinn Féin elected representatives.
In Glasnevin, Party resident Gerry Adams called on all those who support Irish unity, regardless of political affiliation, to come together in a national coalition for Irish unity. He said:
"The Taoiseach has called for a return to the core values of Irish republicanism. I welcome that call. That is what the Easter commemoration is about. So, I urge the Taoiseach to follow through on the logic of what he has said.
"The men and women of 1916 were very definite about the type of Republic they wanted to create. The Proclamation makes that clear. In it they use words like sovereignty, independence, equal rights, civil and religious liberties and cherishing all of the children of the nation equally.
"It is words and values like these that continue to guide Sinn Féin in 2006.
"Sinn Féin doesn't have all the answers but there are enough people on the island of Ireland to make partition history if we work together.
"I want to send out a call to all those who support Irish unity, regardless of political affiliation, to come together in a national coalition for Irish unity.
"I believe such a coalition could come together around three basic principles. The sovereignty of the people, to democracy in its fullest sense. Unity of Catholic, Protestant and Dissenter and the rejection of sectarianism of any kind. Unity of this island and its people, national self-determination, an end to partition and the establishment of a sovereign 32-County Republic.
"So there is a lot of work for all of us in the time ahead if the Proclamation is to be made real."
In relation to the peace process Adams said:
"The two governments are now faced with a stark choice. Are they going to stand by the Good Friday Agreement or are they going to continue to pander to rejectionist unionism.
The answer to that question will become clear before the summer months. The governments have said that they will lift the suspension of the Assembly on May 15th. Sinn Féin will be in Stormont that day. We will be there for one reason and one reason only - the election of a government in line with the Good Friday Agreement. We are not interested in talking shops or shadow assemblies. This also has to be the focus of the Irish and British governments.
"Republicans have taken the hard decisions over the past number of years. We have honoured and stood by every commitment entered into. Decision time now looms for others. And I speak specifically of the DUP.
"Ian Paisley has a decision to make. He has failed in his campaign to smash Sinn Féin. He has failed in his bid to see unionist majority rule returned. The only way Ian Paisley will exercise political power is in an Executive with Sinn Fein. I do not say that to be triumphalist in any way. I say that because that is the reality, which faces him today.
"If Ian Paisley continues to refuse to recognise the rest of us as equals then the two governments must deliver on their commitment to jointly implement all other elements of the Good Friday Agreement and increase substantially all-Ireland harmonisation and management.
"But regardless of the decisions taken by Ian Paisley, either to share power or not - and I hope he decides to share power - we as Irish Republicans have a mighty job of work ahead of us."
Other commemorations held in Dublin were at Arbour Hill on 14 April, in Ballyfermot 15 April and Dun Laoghaire and Howth on 17 April.
Numbers were up at the County Kerry Commemoration held in Tralee on Easter Sunday afternoon. The unveiling of a forty-five foot National Flag commenced the proceedings. The Parade made its way to the Republican Plot on the Killarney Road side of the town.
Here, Cathal Foley presided and the names of Kerry's patriot dead were read aloud. West Tyrone MLA, Barry McElduff was the main speaker and he remembered "the unspeakable things done to Republicans in Barracks and on lonely roadsides in the County of Kerry by Black and Tans and by Free State Forces."
The number of little crosses and stone monuments which mark the Kerry landscape testifies to the County's history of endurance.
He strongly refuted any notion that "England is a referee to the conflict in Ireland," describing Britain's role in Ireland as being that "of a protagonist, and that of an occupying force, the ultimate cause of the political problems in Ireland."
On Easter Sunday up to 200 people attended the annual 1916 Commemoration organised by Limerick City Sinn Féin, making it one of the largest commemorations for some years. The march assembled outside the main gates of Mount St. Laurence Cemetery and proceeded to the Republican Plot, where the ceremonies were chaired by Maurice Quinlivan, the Sinn Féin candidate for Limerick East in the forthcoming general election.
Sinn Féin Mayor of Monghan Pat Treanor gave the main oration. He welcomed the fact that the Irish Government decided to mark the anniversary with a commemorative event. He welcomed also the IRA announcement of 28 July saying that "the IRA have provided a golden opportunity to advance the peace process significantly and to open up a new era in Irish politics." He called for the release of all republican prisoners and an end to the ongoing discrimination against republican ex-prisoners. He appealed for unity among Republicans and called for "an alliance among all people who want to work for Irish Unity and a lasting peace on this island".
Following the main commemoration a wreath laying ceremony was held at the grave of Sean Glynn, an IRA volunteer who died in Arbour Hill Military Prison in September 1936.
This year saw Drogheda's largest commemoration in recent times.
There was a Republican colour party present and the Lourdes Brass Band participated in the parade.
Sinn Féin's Tom Cunningham chaired the event and the main speaker was Newry and Armagh MP Conor Murphy who in the course of his speech said: "The Irish patriots who we remember here today gave their all in pursuit of freedom. Their commitment, their dedication, their selflessness and their integrity inspire all of us who describe ourselves as Irish republicans".
Speaking at the County Monaghan Easter Commemoration, Sinn Féin General Secretary, Mitchel Mc Laughlin MLA said that republicans had played an honourable role in mapping out a peaceful path that can deliver Irish unity. He said he understood the frustration felt by many at the slow pace of progress and the resentment caused by the pandering to those opposed to change.
"I believe that in time the significance of the IRA initiatives in the search for freedom, justice and peace in Ireland will become clear to all. It is incumbent on all of those interested in building a durable peace to avail of the opportunities provided in this new political reality", he said.
"But it is now decision time for the DUP, are they leaders or skulkers? Have they got the confidence and courage to join the rest of us in a power sharing government and all Ireland institutions? If they refuse to do so Mr Blair and Mr. Ahern must deliver on their commitment to jointly implement all other elements of the Good Friday Agreement", said Mclaughlin
"Sinn Féin is ready to work with the DUP and others - yesterday, today or tomorrow. We are committed to a process of national reconciliation and have initiated a long-term dialogue with representatives of unionism", he said.
Newry and Armagh MP Conor Murphy speaking at Innisikeen on Easter Saturday evening stated that republicanism, unlike unionism, had a philosophy and a vision which was about the future. "It is about a better future for all of the people on this island. A future free from sectarianism discrimination and domination. Those were the ideals of the Proclamation. Those ideals are our unfinished business". The MP also stated that the IRA had clearly stated the republican position on criminality. "We denounce it and we will work constructively with our communities to eradicate it" said the MP who had a series of speaking engagements this weekend in Armagh, Dundalk, Monaghan and Drogheda.
The main Sligo Easter Commemoration took place on Easter Sunday outside the City Hall. A crowd of over 300 marched behind a republican colour party to the Republican Plot in the City Cemetery.
As the procession entered the cemetery grounds the colour party paused in tribute by the graveside of Vol Joe MacManus before proceeding to the main plot containing the remains of Sligo's Noble Six. The proceedings were chaired by Councillor Chris MacManus.
The main oration was delivered by Sinn Féin Ard Chomhairle member and TD for Dublin South Central, Aengus o Snodaigh. Whilst reiterating his welcome of the re-establishment of the state commemoration he challenged the government to acknowledge the social agenda of both the Proclamation and the Democratic Programme of the First Dail. He demanded of all the parties who have recently declared themselves as republican to follow Sinn Féin's lead in producing a Green Paper for Irish unity in the Dail and to actively pursue a United Ireland.
O Snodaigh said: "It is not just that they have failed to actively pursue Irish unity, they have failed to live up to much else that was contained in the 1916 Proclamation and later in the Declaration of Independence or the Democratic Programme of 1919"
"So I take this opportunity today to again call on Fianna Fáil, and on the Labour Party and even Fine Gael the so-called United Ireland party as John Bruton was always keen to point out, to produce a green party for Irish unity, to become persuaders for the Republic, not obstacles. Let us begin the debate in earnest about the shape of a United Ireland.
"Let us set a target, let us start the process of nation building and let us take the challenge to the West-Brits, the Regressive Democrats, the Independent newspaper group, to the Unionists.
We have the political space to do just that, thanks to Óglaigh na hÉireann's decision of July 28th last year."
Earlier in the morning a wreath laying ceremony was held by the graveside of Volunteer Martin Savage in Ballisodare. A veteran of 1916, Savage lost his life in December 1919 during an attack on the then British Direct Ruler, Lord French. The event was well attended and included large members of the Savage family.
Over fifty people attended the Easter Commeration in Nenagh on Easter Sunday. The event was held at the Republican monument at Banba Square where Eoghan Mac Cormaic gave the main oration. Proceedings were chaired by local Sinn Féin councillor, Seamus Morris who called for "cross party support for a Green Paper on Irish unity".
Eoghan Mc Cormaic, remarking on the large number of young people present, emphasised the importance of counteracting the revisionism that has thwarted efforts to outline the true history of Irish republicanism. With reference to the history of hunger strikes in Ireland, he stressed the importance of letting young people hear firsthand accounts of events and urged all republicans to attend events being held to commemorate the Hunger Strikers.
A memorial event will take place in Nenagh in August to commemorate the hunger strikers and all are urged to attend.
Thousands of republicans converged on the town of Carrickmore to remember Ireland's patriot dead. The commemoration was the focal point of a weekend which saw no fewer than 30 local graveside commemorations and wreath laying ceremonies.
There were a number of marching bands in attendance, including the Martin Hurson Memorial Flute Band Gortin/Greencastle, The Pomeroy Accordion Band and Clooney Flute Band from Aghoghill, County Antrim.
The procession made its way to the Republican Garden of Remembrance in Carrickmore where Brian Crawley of the National Graves Association chaired the proceedings.
The main oration was delivered by Sinn Féin Ard Chomhairle meber and North Belfast MLA gerry Kelly. He said:
In the coming weeks there will be renewed efforts to advance the peace process. Republicans have taken hugely important decisions. It is time for others to respond in like manner. The challenge is there not just for the DUP but for the British and Irish governments also."
He said rep[ublicans would never again accept the status of second-class citizens nor would they ever impose second-class citizenship upon anyone else. But unionists too had responsibilities and this included the need to break with sectarian politics.
"However, in this process we also have to remember that for many unionists the change we have embarked upon is a terrifying prospect. Change is always difficult. When taken in the context of a conflict resolution process, change can be traumatic. And this can be made even more difficult when there are those, both within sections of unionism and within the British political and military establishment who still want to hold on to the old ways. The effect of political policing over the last few years, especially where the institutions were collapsed on a lie, demonstrates the dangers. That is where the most serious threat to the peace process comes from at this time", he said.
Our goal as Irish republicans is an Irish unity that is inclusive, that unionists will feel welcome in, that they are a part of. There is much work to do. But we believe that we are in the countdown to a united Ireland. We believe that together we can make further progress and truly transform society on this island forever", he said.
Kelly said the Irish Government had a constitutional imperative to work for a United Ireland. "We are commemorating the 25th anniversary of the Hunger Strike, we can mirror the 5 demands of the Hunger strikers with the Irish government.
1. The Irish government should produce a Green paper on Irish unity.
2. The work of the all-Ireland ministerial council should be expanded and additional all-Ireland implementation bodies created.
3. MP's elected in the 6 counties should be accorded speaking rights in the Dail.
4. Voting rights for Presidential elections should be extended to citizens in the six counties.
5. The Irish government should actively engage with the British government and unionism to promote and seek support for reunification", Kelly said.
Bairbre de Brun, MEP, was the main speaker at the first of the many Easter Commemoratons to be held throughout County Tyrone over the weekend.
A large crowd of republicans gathered at the Sinn Féin Centre, just off The Square in Coalisland, on Saturday 15 April before parading to the Republican Plot at Brackaville Cemetery.
On the way to the Republican Plot, the parade, lead by the Colour Party stopped at the spot, where in 1916 Northern Republicans mustered and prepared themselves for the journey South to join the Rising in Dublin. Their plans were, however, thwarted by Eoin MacNeill's countermand order. Yet despite the confusion the flame was lit and the republican desire for freedom has been maintained and strengthened by the sacrifice of many sons and daughters of East Tyrone to the present time.
The ceremony took place at the impressive Republican Plot which holds the graves of Volunteers Tony Doris, Sean O'Farrell and Kevin Barry O'Donnell, all killed by British undercover units in separate ambushes.
In her address Bairbre de Brun called on those present to, "renew your determination to step up the campaign to achieve the united Ireland and freedom that will be a fitting tribute to the men and women who have died for the Republic".
Sinn Féin Mayor of Dungannon Councillor Francie Molloy and party colleagues held a civic reception in the Council Chamber last Thursday for the Tyrone National Graves and for the families of the 47 IRA Volunteers on the Roll of Honour from the East Tyrone area.
The guest speaker was Sinn Féin President Gerry Adams. Also in attendance were Martin McGuinness, the MP for Mid Ulster and Michelle Gildernew, MP for Fermanagh South Tyrone. Sinn Féin President Gerry Adams spoke of the great sacrifice of republicans in County Tyrone, their determination and courage and extended solidarity to all of the families.
Sinn Féin held its annual Easter commemorations in Wicklow over the weekend. This year Sinn Féin organised 3 commemorations and held 2 wreath laying ceremonies.
The first commemoration took place in Arklow on Easter Saturday which was attended by over 150 people. Chairperson of Arklow Sinn Féin Adriane O'Reilly chaired the event and Cllr. John Brady, who is the general election candidate for Sinn Féin in Wicklow, gave the main oration.
On Easter Sunday a commemoration was held in Kilcoole, it was chaired by David Gahan who is the chairperson of Wicklow Sinn Féin. The main oration was given by Cllr. John Brady. The event was attended by over 75 people.
On Easter Monday the commemoration was held in Bray with over 220 people attending. Marie Gavaghan chaired the event and Cllr. John Brady gave the main oration.
Wreath laying ceremonies where held in Wicklow town, where the wreath was laid by Cllr. Eamon Long, and in Baltinglass, where Gerry O'Neill laid the wreath.