4 April 2002 Edition
Clashes disrupt Whitewell commemoration
Belfast's Easter Commemoration events began on Saturday evening in the Whitewell area of the city.
The Whitewell area, rarely out of the news in recent times due to the ongoing loyalist violence directed against residents, was tense, as up to 150 loyalists gathered near the bottom of the Whitewell Road to disrupt the parade.
As the Easter Parade approached the junction where the loyalists gathered, up to six large fireworks were thrown. Bricks and bottles were also directed at the republican procession, despite the heavy crown forces presence.
Local community workers and march stewards, accompanied by Sinn Féin Assembly member Gerry Kelly, remonstrated with the RUC/PSNI over their lack of will to move the loyalists up Gray's Lane and allow the parade to continue.
Eventually, the Parade passed the flashpoint area and proceeded into the Bawnmore estate, where a memorial to Volunteers Samuel Hughes, Jackie McErlean and Charles McChrystal, who were killed in action in 1972, was unveiled by Frank Hughes, a brother of Samuel.
Sinn Féin's Gerry Kelly was the main speaker and he commended the people of the area for their resilience in the face of the ongoing loyalist violence.
On Easter Monday, Sinn Féin President Gerry Adams addressed commemorations in the Newington and New Lodge areas of North Belfast.
Addressing a large crowd at the memorial on Newington Street, Adams said that listening to the Roll of Honour of people from the area who died during the conflict is a stark reminder of of the price people have had to pay.
He paid special tribute to John Huddleston, a local Sinn Féin activist who died last May while defending the district from loyalist attacks.
Adams also addressed hundreds of republicans in the New Lodge area.
Speaking at the memorial garden in Donore Court, Adams said that the people of North Belfast had borne the brunt of loyalists and state violence over the years. During the proceedings, Orlaith Davey read out the Roll of Honour of the many people from the area who were killed while Terry O'Neill played a lament on the tin whistle.
On Easter Tuesday, West Tyrone Assembly member Barry McElduff addressed hundreds of republicans who paraded to the memorial at the Sinn Féin centre in Ardoyne.
The Ardoyne parade marched through the Ardoyne and Bone districts. It stopped at the Bone, where a lament was played at the local memorial. A large number of former POWS from the area turned out for the parade led by a colour party and the Felons Pipe Band.
The main Belfast parade to Milltown Cemetery on Easter Sunday saw thousands of people march along the route from Beechmount Avenue to the Republican plot in Milltown. Hundreds also lined the route.
Sinn Féin's Gerry Kelly was the main speaker. He told the crowd that nothing much had changed for nationalists, with the loyalist pogroms against the nationalist people continuing across the North and the activities of the RUC/PSNI over the weekend in which they had carried out violent raids on nationalist homes.
He highlighted the experience of people in North Belfast, who still have to endure the brutality of the RUC/PSNI.
One interesting participant in Sunday's parade was Joe Cahill, who said that it was on Easter Sunday 60 years ago that he was involved in that fatal operation with Tom Williams that led to Williams arrest and execution on 2 September 1942.
"We were carrying out that operation to distract the RUC so that an Easter Commemoration could go ahead," he recalled. "There is a big difference now, with thousands of people turning out."
Upwards of 1,000 people marched from the Crossmaglen Rangers club through the local housing estates to the chapel on Easter Sunday, where a wreathlaying ceremony took place after Mass with a number of local Sinn Féin councillors performing duties.
Jimmy McCreesh, the party leader in Newry & Mourne District Council, was the main speaker. He called on republicans to remain steadfast and unified in their goal for a united Ireland. Councillor Terry Hearty chaired the proceedings and concluded by thanking all the families involved and everybody who participated in a very successful day.
Some 200 people attended the Easter commemoration in Portadown on Easter Saturday. Proceedings were chaired by Councillor McKeown and North Belfast Sinn Féin Councillor Eoin Ó Broin was the guest speaker.
A good crowd of 300 people attended the Easter Sunday commemoration in Derrymacash, where Mark O'Dowd chaired and North Belfast Sinn Féin Councillor Eoin Ó Broin was the guest speaker.
A large crowd of about 1,000 people gathered in Lurgan on Easter Sunday. Proceedings were chaired by Councillor Magill and North Belfast councillor Martin Meehan was the main speaker. Meehan paid particular tribute to the late Volunteer JB O'Hagan.
About 50 people turned out on Easter Sunday for an Easter wreathlaying ceremony.
The annual Easter commemoration at Killeen took place at Kelly's Road. The parade, attended by a large crowd, was led by a colour party and a visiting Scottish band.
The proceedings were chaired by Aidan Murphy and the main speaker was Pat Rice, who outlined the progress made in the peace process, and the work to be done in the forthcoming elections.
Many people turned out for the annual Cork Easter 1916 commemoration to hear Gearóid O hEara say that Sinn Féin is the only party in Ireland focused on achieving a united Ireland. "Sometimes it seems tantalising near but there is a lot of work still to be done," he said. "Sinn Féin is focused on building an Ireland where everyone is equal, an Ireland inclusive of unionists and nationalists. Here remembering the sacrifices of republicans in 1916 we rededicate ourselves to the task in hand."
Cork North Central election candidate Jonathan O'Brien, chaired the event. He told the crowd: "Sinn Féin will contest this election on our track record of hard work honesty and integrity. We have listened to what communities are saying and we work in partnership with them. We have campaigned hard on issues such as health, housing, the environment and anti-social behaviour. I believe this will lead to increased Sinn Féin representation in Leinster House."
Gardaí attack Cork marchers
A Garda motorcyclist drove into this year's Easter Commemoration in Cork ten minutes after marchers set off from the Grand parade. As the parade passed Jury's Inn, the guard drove his machine into the crowd near the front. In the process, he clipped a child's buggy and hit off a woman marcher, causing her considerable distress. Having forced himself right into the inside of the march, he then attempted to drive from behind into the ranks of the Youghal RFB. This band is composed primarily of young people, ranging from six and seven years upwards. Because the band maintained its formation, he tried to force his way through by knocking over band member Richard Swaine. The parade was stopped while an ambulance was called and stewards restored order. Many of the young children were crying from distress and shock.
Despite the considerable anger of the crowd, the parade resumed its journey after the ambulance had left with the two people who had been injured by the garda's deliberately reckless behaviour.
But 20 yards down the road, the same motorcyclist again started pushing off stewards with his bike. Stewards tried to protect the parade from him and were attacked by more gardaí. A tense standoff ensued, with the gardaí periodically attempting to force the parade off the road. After nearly half an hour, the gardaí retreated and republicans continued their march and commemoration in a dignified manner.
At St Finbar's Cemetery, Gearóid Ó hEara had this message for the assembled gardaí: "The gardaí have nothing to fear from Sinn Féin. However there will be no place in the new Ireland for those who drive a motorcycle into a peaceful march, injuring members of the band and terrorising young children. Nor will there be a place for those who encourage or allow such behaviour."
Despite the inclement weather, a good crowd attended the annual Easter commemoration at Astna Square, Clonakilty, on Easter Sunday. Dermot Milner entertained the crowd on the pipes while Séamus de Búrca chaired proceedings.
Local Town Councillor Cionnaith Ó Súilleabháin, a Sinn Féin general election candidate for Cork South West, delivered the main oration. In a wide-ranging speech, Ó Súilleabháin dwelt at length on the upcoming election and the issues that the party will be campaigning on locally.
He saluted those in every generation before and since the 1916 Rising who have fought and died for Irish freedom. He thanked the people of Clonakilty and West Cork who have supported Sinn Féin throughout the years. He also referred to the upsurge of interest in the party among young people, and praised the active involvement of young people in the local cumann. He encouraged all those present to ensure that they and everyone they knew voted for the party in the election and invited people to help out with the campaign.
Afterwards, an enjoyable social evening was held at An Teach Beag.
Republicans from South Derry, South West Antrim and beyond gathered in Swatragh on Easter Monday to commemorate Ireland's dead. The weather was fine and the rain that was forecast did not materialise. The parade started from the Diamond in the village to the local graveyard, where a wreath laying ceremony was held. The parade returned to the village where Councillor Hugh Mullan chaired proceedings.
The main speaker, Barry McElduff, told the large crowd of the continuing development of the struggle for freedom. This struggle, he said, had entered the final stage and he commended those present for their continuing support.
The parade was delayed for half an hour to allow the visiting Tom Williams Republican Flute Band from Glasgow to attend. They had been diverted away from the parade by the local friendly PSNI/RUC, who sent them in the wrong direction.
The Tirconaill Commemoration Committee held the annual Easter Commemoration in Stranorlar County Donegal on Sunday. This year marked the 86th anniversary of the 1916 Rising and the 79th anniversary of the Drumboe martyrs.
The commemoration returned to Stranorlar after last year's late cancellation due to the Foot & Mouth scare. A crowd of almost 3,000 people took part and observed the march through the twin towns of Stranorlar and Ballybofey led by the Tom Williams band from Glasgow and the Strabane Memorial flute band.
Councillor Padraig MacLochlainn read the Proclamation and Pearse Doherty read the Tirconaill Roll of Honour. The main speaker was Martin McGuinness MP, who gave an inspiring speech and paid tribute to the leaders of the 1916 Rising "who not only rekindled the flame of Irish freedom that still burns brightly today but lit a flame that ignited the desire for freedom right across the British Empire and led to its eventual demise".
"The Drumboe Martyrs," he added, "died opposing the partition of Ireland and of course as a result of that partition the history of our island has been littered by injustice, inequality and instability. In our generation too Irishmen and women have given their lives for freedom." Paying tribute to the volunteers of Óglaigh na hÉireann, he said "they have also made the greatest efforts through their vision and discipline to create the space where a real peace process could flourish.
McGuinness also made reference to the negative campaigning of the other political parties over the last few months. He said: "It is not really Sinn Féin that they fear, it is the people they fear because they know that the growing strength of Sinn Féin is proof that more and more people accept us as the real alternative".
A 70-strong crowd attended this year's Easter commemoration at Cockhill cemetery, Buncrana, County Donegal, where wreaths were laid on the graves of Eddie Fullerton, Vol Reamonn MacLochlainn, Vol Patrick O'Hagan, John McFadden, Jimmy Quinn and Dan McLaughlin. Earlier, a wreath was laid on Martin Doherty's grave at Clonmany.
Buncrana Sinn Féin councillor and general election candidate for Donegal North East, Pádraig MacLochlainn, addressed the gathering and said that the best tribute local republicans could pay their fallen comrades was a strong Sinn Féin vote in the forthcoming election.
Adams calls for Irish unity alliance
The main Dublin Easter Commemoration, from the GPO to Glasnevin Cemetery, attracted around 2,000 people in total. Crowds gathering in the city centre were well entertained by Dubliner Barney McKenna and Tony MacMahon and by singer Johnny White. This musical theme was carried on at Glasnevin Cemetery. Marchers may have entered to slightly bizarre strains of We are the Champions, travelling in the wind from the crowd at nearby Dalymount Park, but this was soon beaten back by singer Mary Mullen, who delivered a moving rendition of The Foggy Dew, a fitting tribute to the many patriots buried in the historic cemetery. Proceedings were chaired by Councillor Seán Crowe and the main banner was carried by a number of Sinn Féin candidates contesting Dublin constituencies in the forthcoming general election.
The main speaker was Sinn Féin President Gerry Adams, who said that Irish unity must cease to be an abstraction and become a concrete proposition. The Sinn Féin leader called on all of the parties to embark on a process of drawing up a Green Paper on Irish Unity in consultation with all interested parties and groups. Adams said:
"Sinn Féin is an Irish republican party. We are the only all-Ireland party. Our goal is to see a United Ireland which delivers real social and economic change. In recent years we have seen the repeal of the Government of Ireland Act, the creation of all Ireland institutions, some progress on the issue of northern representation in the Oireachtas and the removal of the unionist veto. And while all of this represents progress there is still much to be done.
"Republicans have always pointed out the obstacle to Irish unity posed by Britain, and that has not evaporated. But this is not the only block to unity. The reluctance of the political establishment in this state to genuinely embrace the concept of unity must be examined as well. Four score years have past since a Government was established in Dublin and it is incredible that in all of this time we have not even had a discussion Green Paper on the subject, never mind a policy White Paper come out of Leinster House.
"Establishment parties have no strategy, no medium and long-term goals, no notion of structures, no economic analysis, no costings, no outline legislative programme.
"What Sinn Féin is about - and what we have been doing in recent months - is setting out our roadmap to Irish unity and we believe that others should do the same. The primary objective at this time has to be to sustain the peace process and to build the political process and the Good Friday Agreement.
Sinn Féin is wedded to this. But we continue to work for an end of the union. So Irish unity must cease to be an abstraction and become a concrete proposition.
"Here, today, I am formally calling on all of the parties to embark on a process of drawing up a Green Paper on Irish Unity in consultation with all interested parties and groups. Sinn Féin will naturally make a careful and studied input to such a process. But we also think that an Alliance for Irish Unity is needed which will draw upon all persons and organisations who are committed to that end.
"Ireland is moving towards Irish unity. The historical tide cannot be wished back. But as I have indicated previously, and reiterate now, republicans do not want unionists to be politically drowned in a sea of nationalism. We, in the original spirit of Tone, want them to be accommodated, to be included - to belong. We do not want them to be strangers in their own land, in our own land. Our Ireland is a shared Ireland, an inclusive Ireland.
"We want to engage now on the shape, form and nature that this will take. We want to quietly, persuasively and as friends and neighbours persuade unionists that they should not be afraid of taking a leap of imagination.
Unionists should be prepared to put forward their vision for the future and to consider, discuss and engage with nationalists and republicans about the nature and form a new united Ireland will take.
"There is much work to do. And together we can make further progress and truly transform society on this island forever."
Commenting on the current state of the peace process, Adams said:
"The implementation of the Good Friday Agreement requires the full cooperation of all of the parties to it - governments and political parties alike. And what is required is that the Agreement is implemented, in the terms agreed.
"Under its terms the two governments have a joint and co-equal
responsibility for its implementation. There is not and cannot be a senior and junior relationship between the two governments if we are to succeed.
Joint and co-equal responsibility is required for the successful implementation of the Agreement.
"This places a particularly onerous responsibility on the Irish government to challenge a British system which has never been comfortable with many of the terms of the Good Friday Agreement. And one of the challenges for the Irish government is to keep the British government focused on building the peace process. This means both governments supporting and underpinning the politics of peace making.
Israel must withdraw
Commenting on the ongoing siege of Ramallah and President Arafat, the Sinn Féin leader said:
"The daily violence in the Middle East is making the task of building a sustainable peace in that region all the more difficult. Ariel Sharon's time in power has been marked by repressive actions. The suicide attacks against Israeli civilians are reprehensible and we call for them to end but so too is the invasion by Israel of Palestinian territory, the attacks against Palestinians and their homes and the deliberate targeting of Palestinian leaders. This must stop and the International Community must intervene to achieve this. I welcome the emergency resolution from the UN Security Council calling for a meaningful bilateral ceasefire and for the Israelis to withdraw from Palestinian territories. Calm voices need to be heard at this time. If both nations are to avoid further suffering, there needs to be a swift return to the historic compromise between Peres and Arafat marked by the Oslo Agreement."
The annual Easter Saturday commemoration in Crumlin was the biggest ever, according to local representative Aengus O'Snodaigh, attracting up to 250 people. Led by the Volunteer Hugh Hehir/Lisa Bell RFB, marchers made their way from Drimnagh along the Crumlin Road to Eamonn Ceannt Park on the Sundrive Road. Ó Snodaigh, general election candidate for Dublin South Central, delivered the main address at the monument.
Upwards of 200 people attended the annual Easter Monday commemoration in the Borough, which starts at Casement Villas and travels through Rory O'Connor Park on its way to Deansgrange cemetery.
Proceedings were chaired by Paul O'Connor and Helen Lacey-Brack gave a brief rundown of the deeds of some of the patriots buried in the cemetery before the main speaker, Bairbre de Brún, delivered her address. Sinn Féin general election hopeful Mick O'Brien concluded proceedings with a strong plea for local republicans to step forward and play their part in the campaign ahead.
This year marks the 30th anniversary of the death of Louis Leonard, who was murdered in his butcher's shop in Derrylin. The main Fermanagh commemoration took place on Easter Sunday at Louis' graveside in Donagh graveyard. Over 600 people attended despite the bad weather. A number of wreaths were laid at the plot. The main oration was given by Assembly member Gerry McHugh.
Around 50 people attended the Limerick City 1916 Commemoration from the main gates of Mount St Laurence Cemetery to the Republican Plot, where most of Limerick's republican dead are buried.
The ceremonies were chaired by Eamon Clancy and the main address was delivered by Limerick City Sinn Féin chair, Pádraig Malone. He told those garhered that "even though the nature and form of the republican struggle may have changed over the past few years, the aim of that struggle remains the ending of British rule in Ireland and the establishment of a united, free and democratic 32-county Irish republic".
After the main commemoration, a wreath was laid on the grave of Sean Glynn, an IRA Volunteer from Pennywell who died in Arbour Hill prison in 1936.
Drogheda & Dundalk
The Sinn Féin Easter Commemoration in Dundalk on Easter Sunday afternoon assembled at Market Square and marched to St Patricks Cemetary, Dowdallshill, where Louth Sinn Féin County Councillor, Arthur Morgan, chaired proceedings.
In his address, he welcomed the large crowd and introduced the Sinn Féin Minister for Health, Bairbre de Brún, as the guest speaker.
"We are gathered here today, on this 86th Anniversary of the 1916 Rising, to commemorate those who gave their lives for Irish freedom, in this generation and in previous generations also.
"Sinn Féin's goal of a united, free and independent Ireland is no mere aspiration, no pipe dream," said de Brún. "It is real. It is achievable. Indeed, it is inevitable.
"The forthcoming election will provide an opportunity to show the strength of the republican message, as well as an opportunity to elect Arthur Morgan as TD for Louth. Our party has seen unprecedented growth throughout the island in recent times, and just as last year saw unparalleled electoral gains in the Westminister elections, this year we will be the story of the 2002 general election."
Morgan and de Brún also spoke at the Easter Commemoration on Easter Sunday in Drogheda, where wreaths were laid at the Republican Monument.
Alone piper led around 200 republicans to the Thomas Ashe monument, just outside Ashbourne, on Easter Sunday. There, the proceedings were chaired by Brendan Hogan and party chair Mitchel McLaughlin was the main speaker.
Wreathlaying ceremonies were also held throughout the county.
Ó Caoláin invites Trimble to address Dáil
Speaking at the main County Monaghan Easter commemoration on Easter Sunday, Sinn Féin TD Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin extended an invitation to David Trimble to address the Houses of the Oireachtas and to participate in the debate on Irish unity. The Cavan/Monaghan TD said those people who are unionists could not fulfill their real potential in the "dis-United Kingdom" and their real interests lay in an all-Ireland context.
A large crowd participated in the Easter commemoration ceremony, which began with the laying of a wreath at the Feargal Ó hAnluain Memorial. A republican colour party and the Seán McIlvenna Band from Glasgow led the parade through Monaghan town to Latlurcan Cemetery. There, the ceremony was chaired by Seán McCoy, cathaoirleach of County Monaghan Sinn Féin, and the main speaker was Caoimhghín O Caoláin. He told the crowd that the Good Friday Agreement has yet to be fully implemented:
"The British government must fulfil its obligations. It has failed to deliver a new beginning to policing. Sinn Féin's stand on policing has been vindicated by recent events, including the so-called break-in at the RUC's Castlereagh barracks and by the continuing failure to establish public inquiries into the Pat Finucane and Rosemary Nelson murders and other cases of collusion. Policing in the Six Counties is still controlled by the RUC Special Branch and by British intelligence. Until that rotten structure is dismantled there cannot be a new policing service."
Ó Caoláin said unionists will achieve far more influence and real political representation in a united Ireland "as distinct from privilege based on discrimination under the Union with Britain.
"I extend an invitation to David Trimble as First Minister in the Assembly and as leader of the Unionist Party to come and address a Joint Session of the Houses of the Oireachtas as a first step. I have confidence that this invitation will be endorsed by the other political parties in the Oireachtas."
Ó Caoláin said he regarded it as a great honour to have represented the people of Counties Monaghan and Cavan in the Dáil for the past five years: "I am seeking their mandate once more in the forthcoming general election and with Sinn Féin in this constituency, I am renewing my pledge to work side by side with the people in their interests, for the good of these counties and for the good of our country as a whole."
Two hundred people assembled at Sligo City Hall on Easter Sunday and proceeded to Sligo Cemetery, led by a well-drilled colour party. The crowd paused to pay their respects at the graveside of Vol. Joe MacManus before parading to the main ceremony at the Republican Plot.
This year's oration was given by Sligo/Leitrim general election candidate, Councillor Seán MacManus. As he has been in high demand as a speaker in other parts of the country, it was the first time in ten years that he had addressed the Sligo commemoration.
"On this day each year we pay special tribute to the men and women of 1916, and also to their successors, the Volunteers of Óglaigh na hÉireann, who have played a central role in the creation of the opportunity to achieve lasting peace with justice," he said. "We must also remember those POWs still incarcerated, especially those in Castlerea. I want to take this opportunity to reiterate the call for their release."
Remarking on the majority of young people in attendance, MacManus said: "Many of those to whom we pay tribute at Easter were young people when they made the ultimate sacrifice. As I look out over this crowd today, I am personally heartened to see that a new generation of young activists are taking their place in our struggle. This progressive younger generation believes that a United Ireland is inevitable.
He concluded: "A fitting tribute we can make to the memory of our fallen comrades this year is to return a strong team of Sinn Féin TDs to Leinster House, and specifically to send a Sinn Féin TD from Sligo. Therefore, let us all do our best to ensure that the 2002 election results mark another significant success on the long road to freedom, justice, and peace."
South Tipperary republicans gathered on Easter Sunday in Fethard at the grave of George Plant, executed in 1942. The ceremony was chaired by Sinn Féin candidate Muiris O Suilleabháin. 100 people attended the event, at which the main speaker was Sinn Féin national organiser Eamonn Nolan. Those present recalled especially the late John Bradshaw, a local republican who died in June last year.
In North Tipperary the commemration was held in Banba Square at the Republican Monument, which bears the names of the North Tipperary Roll of Honour as well as the ten hunger strikers of 1981. Patrick Hackett, who spent many years in English prisons and who has published a book on North Tipp's role in the Tan War and Civil War, read the Roll of Honour. The main oration was given by Mîcheál MacDonncha, who said that recent attempts to demonise Sinn Féin would fail and the party would continue to grow throughout Munster and the entire country.
Alex Maskey was the main speaker at the Tyrone County Commemoration at Carrickmore on Easter Sunday. He was accompanied by Michelle Gildernew MP, who delivered a bouncing baby boy just a couple of days later. A masked member of Óglaigh na hÉireann read the Army's Easter message.
One of the largest crowds in recent years attended Sinn Féin's Easter Commemoration march on Saturday 30 March. As the parade, led by the Cobh Volunteers RFB, moved off from The Glen, 400 people marched behind enjoying the spring sunshine. They marched a full circuit of the town and into John Roberts Square, where the huge Saturday crowds were addressed by the main speakers, Sinn Fein's David Cullinane, general election candidate for the Waterford constituency, and Eamonn Nolan, Sinn Féin national organiser.
The crowd, estimated at 1,000, gave David Cullinane a very warm reception, indicating the strong support Sinn Féin is continuing to attract in the lead up to the election. "Waterford now has the chance to return the first Sinn Féin TD for this constituency since Cathal Brugha," said Cullinane, concluding a very powerful speech which received tremendous applause.
A crowd of 70 people led by a lone piper and a Sinn Féin colour party paraded through the streets of Portlaw village to the local church. While remembering all those who gave their lives for Irish freedom, David told the crowd that a united Ireland is inevitable and that this generation of republicans would see this task through to its final conclusion.
The day's events were chaired by veteran republican Jackie Whelan who in his address asked why such a large number of special branch men were in attendance at a peaceful commemoration march. The parade then marched back to the village and dispersed.
On Easter Saturday, Solidarité Irlande (Paris) organised a republican evening in the 11th district of Paris. The evening began at 6pm with the showing of a film by Arthur McCaig, "Music against the Empire", featuring Brendan 'Bick' McFarlane and covering a summary of the troubles up to the present day. This was followed by a speech by the president of Solidarité Irlande on the main issues the Six Counties are confronted with and a series of questions and answers. The discussion ranged from the implementation of the Good Friday Agreement, to Policing, Rosemary Nelson, Orange marches etc. Attracting more than 200 people, the evening continued with a céili featuring local French and Irish musicians.
The annual Easter Commemoration in New York, jointly organised by Irish Northern Aid and Clan na Gael, was held at the Calvary Cemetery, where Oistín MacBride was the main speaker.