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20 April 2006 Edition

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Reclaiming the spirit of 1916

BY MITCHEL McLAUGHLIN

Mitchel McLaughlin

Mitchel McLaughlin

Over the Easter weekend hundreds of commemorations were held all over Ireland and abroad to remember the men and women of 1916. This year was notable because of the 90th Anniversary, but Sinn Féin and other republicans commemorate the Rising every year. What was different this year was that the Irish government which had abandoned remembering the Rising since the early Seventies, in case it would cause offence to the British and the unionists, decided that it is now acceptable to reinstate the commemoration with a parade down O'Connell Street.

Does anyone believe that the Irish government restored the Easter Commemoration because it is now deemed less offensive by unionists, the British establishment or the colonised minds of the West Brit politicians, revisionist historians or large sections of the Southern media? No, of course not, the real reason for the rush by the political establishment to commemorate 1916 is not because they suddenly discovered an inner pride in the men and women who gave their lives so that they could enjoy a degree of freedom. And it is certainly not because they intend to do anything radical to ensure that the ideal of a 32 County Irish Republic as envisioned by the 1916 patriots is realised.

It was nevertheless good to see increased attendances at all of the weekend commemorations and also the large turn-out for the state commemoration in Dublin. I welcome the decision to reinstate the government parade. It will undoubtedly cause a curiosity that will encourage many, particularly young people to take an interest in their history and the motivations of our patriot dead.

I hope that the government and all of the political parties will in the spirit of 1916 ensure that every child is taught the whole history of our country and not a sanitised version, written in order not to offend those who have abused the democratic rights of the people of Ireland for so long.

The approach to the 100th Anniversary of the Easter Rising should, as was stated by many speakers at Sinn Féin commemorations over the weekend, become the 'decade for unity'. But it should also be a decade of education and of the reclamation of 1916 in both the letter and the spirit. As part of our party's recruitment drive Sinn Féin will endeavour to reach as many people as possible, of all creeds and gender, young and old, with the purpose of reawakening the pride in our history and our determination to complete the task set out for us by the sacrifice made by the men and women of 1916 and emulated by the patriots of 1981. We can complete that journey in the next decade if we all set our minds to the task.

Let us continue to set the agenda so that the other parties will be unable to prevent the march towards Freedom, Justice and Peace.

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.

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