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27 March 2008 Edition

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The Mary Nelis Column

Proclamation has little meaning for republican pretenders

THE ‘Soldiers of Destiny’, Fianna Fáil, were there on Sunday at the GPO, commemorating the dead generations, forgotten since the seventies but reinstated by order of An Taoiseach, to mark the 90th Anniversary of the 1916 Rising.
It was difficult to see the restored official Easter Commemoration above the six foot high, black plastic barrier, surrounding the birthplace of the Republic. But there was no doubt among the dignitaries on the reviewing stand and those marching past, that they considered themselves the true inheritors of the Republic and as such had laid to rest the notion of any other contenders to the title. Indeed they hoped that the ceremony amid the display of the national flag, would not earn them the label of ‘fellow travellers’ by the British and unionist establishment, North and South, whose patronage they had carefully cultivated in the past years.
Those brave enough to dissent, a few young people behind a ‘Tara in Crisis’ banner, found themselves surrounded by uniformed and plain clothes Gardaí and threatened with arrest if they did not remove themselves and the banner. In the new world of Fianna Fáil republican politics, peaceful dissent is not permitted, even to protest the destruction of the national heritage of Ireland.  But then the rights of the people of Ireland to the ownership of Ireland must not be allowed to stand in the way of the progress of motorways, or oil pipelines or multi-story apartment buildings, by the ‘Soldiers of Destiny’.
The announcement that the GPO is to be transformed into a museum to commemorate 1916, has been greeted with some derision by those who wonder if there is anything left of that historic period that has not been sold into private ownership because of the lack of interest in preserving our national treasures by Irish Governments past and present. 
Indeed the new found enthusiasm by Fianna Fáil to reclaim ownership of the Republic is a bit like closing the stable door after the horse has bolted. The debacle of the Nice referendum, now to be reinforced by the Lisbon Treaty has put paid to that. As Robert Ballagh so clearly stated in an excellent article on 1916, “the exercise of democracy in Ireland is only fully respected when it provides the desired results. If the people have the temerity to vote the wrong way, they are sent back to vote again and if elections hand power to the wrong people, then boycotts and sanctions are invoked”.
The words of the Proclamation which declared ‘the unfettered control of Irish destinies to be sovereign and indefeasible’ has little meaning for successive Irish Governments who have all but abandoned any such principles.
Despite the attempts by Fianna Fáil to reinvent the wheel, it will be the future generations of republicans, standing in cemeteries all over Ireland last Sunday who will cherish all the children of the nation equally and who will continue the struggle for the ownership of Ireland and the unfettered control of Irish destinies to be in the hands of its people.

An Phoblacht Magazine


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