16 April 2009 Edition
1916 Easter commemorations 2009
Republicans across Ireland pledge to organise for unity and freedom
Easter speeches by Sinn Féin President Gerry Adams, Vice-President Mary Lou McDonald, Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin TD and Gerry Kelly MLA can be read in full at www.sinnfein.ie
Further Easter commemoration reports will be carried in next week’s An Phoblacht
THOUSANDS of Belfast republicans turned out on Easter Sunday to mark the 93rd anniversary of the 1916 Easter Rising with a parade from Beechmount Avenue to the Republican Plot in Milltown Cemetery.
The main speaker Sinn Féin President Gerry Adams paid homage to Ireland’s patriot dead, “not just the men and women who fell in 1916, but to every generation of heroes and heroines and particularly those of our own time”, he said.
“We are extremely proud of the Volunteer soldiers of the Irish Republican Army and the activists of Sinn Féin and all others who gave their lives for Irish freedom. We are indebted to their families.
“Our resolve is to finish the work that they began and Sinn Féin is about uniting the greatest number of people in active support of this aim.”
While it may take some unionists time to realise that the situation has changed “their leaders know that there is no going back to the old days of sectarian domination and two-tier citizenship”.
Commenting on the so-called ‘republican dissidents’, the Sinn Féin leader said:
“I uphold the right of everyone to dissent from Sinn Féin’s point of view.
“But no one is entitled to hijack our proud republican history and our republican future and abuse it for narrow selfish interests or self-gain.
“Sinn Féin, standing firmly on a republican platform, sets ourselves firmly against those elements who do this.”
Speaking about the current economic crisis, Gerry Adams said:
“I note assertions by DUP ministers after the lay-offs at Bombardier, FG Wilson and Visteon that there is little that a devolved administration can do in the face of a global crisis. I disagree.
“We can always do more. We can be imaginative and innovative.
“And if we have not enough powers, as the DUP appears to suggest, then it makes economic sense as well as political sense, that we should take whatever powers we need to do the job we are elected to do.
“While working to improve the quality of life in the here and now, we see a united Irish economy as the best option.”
He said that republicans must ensure that the Irish Government does not renege on its obligations to the political institutions and all-Ireland integration.
“For our part, Sinn Féin will continue to push for Northern representation in the Oireachtas.
“We will continue to work for an Acht na Gaeilge here in the North.”
Adams summoned up the republican spirit of resistance to continue the unfinished struggle.
“Forty years ago,” he said, “the Orange state thought it could crush us. It failed.
“Today, we stand proudly at the gravesides of our fallen comrades, unbroken and unbowed and ready to prosecute the next phase of our struggle.
“The spirit of 1916 is needed at this time.
“We leave here today confident in the reality that that spirit is alive and well in republican Belfast and throughout republican Ireland.
“There is work to be done. Let us go from here and do that work.”
Addressing the New Barnsley commemoration on Tuesday Bairbre de Brún MEP paid tribute to former leading republican Brian Keenan and Sinn Féin Councillor Marie Moore who passed away this year.
Dealing with the past de Brún said:
“Within this area many families have suffered tragic loss at the hands of the British State, the British Army and its loyalist surrogates. A loss made all the worse by the response of the British State. We remember the victims of the Ballymurphy massacre. I want to pay tribute to the work of the campaign. I also want to pay tribute to the ongoing efforts of the Jordan family who continue their quest for justice.
“The British Government needs to start acknowledging its role as a protagonist in the conflict and deal with the reality of the more than one thousand victims of collusion and state violence.
“Reconciliation and a true healing process will make many demands of us. It will also make demands of others who need to realise and to recognise that families of IRA volunteers or Sinn Féin members go through the same pain and grief.
“Sinn Féin will continue to stand with the victims of state violence in their campaign for the truth. I pay tribute to those who have been so steadfast and I say to them that we recognise that dealing effectively with the past is an essential part of moving forward and one we will not abandon.”
Sinn Féin held 1916 Easter Commemorations throughout North Antrim, last weekend.
Wreath laying ceremonies were held at republican graves in Waterfoot, Glenravel, Rasharkin, Dunloy and Loughgiel.
Local cumainn laid wreaths in memory of fallen comrades whilst a piper played a lament.
Colour parties led large gatherings of local activists and families of the bereaved.
MEP Bairbre de Brún, speaking in Mullaghbawn, paid tribute to the legendary status of south Armagh in the fight for Irish freedom.
“When we think of south Armagh we think of republicanism, an area which faced the might of the British Empire for decades and won. South Armagh could not be conquered, I know that, we all know that but more importantly the British Army knew that.
“Unfortunately many Volunteers lost their lives during the war and it is their sacrifice that we remember today. I see the many banners with the faces and names of the many from this area who made the ultimate sacrifice in the struggle for Irish freedom. They will not be forgotten.
“We particularly remember a republican icon who sadly passed away during the year. Brian Keenan had become synonymous with south Armagh and had made this area his home.
“Brian was a no-nonsense, direct and honest man; a remarkable man. His total commitment to the Irish Republican Army and to the cause of Irish freedom was an inspiration to us all. He did what most people only thought about. Brian did what he believed in and felt it was his duty. He truly led by example and people followed him. He was a comrade to many and a true Irish patriot. He will continue to inspire generations to come.”
She said that Sinn Féin’s strategy – the strategy backed by Brian Keenan and the majority of his comrades – has dismantled the Orange state and the old ways that have now gone for good.
“Republicans created these opportunities by being strategic, focused and disciplined. That same focus is now required in this phase of struggle.”
Concluding De Brún said:
“Is iomaí ré a ndeachaigh an streachailt tríd chun Éire aontaithe agus neamhspleách a bhaint amach ó bhí 1916 ann. I 2009 leanann Sinn Féin lena straitéis chun aontacht na hÉireann a bhaint amach agus Poblacht a bhunú ins an oileán seo ar fiú an t-ainm sin – Poblacht bunaithe ar chomhionannas agus ceartas sóisialta.
THE commemoration in Camlough at the Republican Plot in St Malachy’s Cemetery attracted a large crowd, including families of fallen IRA Volunteers, republican ex-prisoners, local community and sporting activists, Newry & Armagh MP Conor Murphy, Sinn Féin Cllrs Pat Mc Ginn and Jimmy Mc Creesh, and Camloch, Derramore and Belleek Sinn Féin cumainn.
Local Fews Councillor Turlough Murphy chaired the proceedings. Veteran republican Joe McElhaw opened proceedings with the solemn observation that “on this Easter Sunday morning, we remember with pride those comrades from every generation who gave their lives for the cause of Irish freedom”.
The main speaker was west Belfast MLA Paul Maskey who received a warm welcome from the large crowd.
Paul said the ideals and principles of the Proclamation are as relevant today as they had ever been.
“The realisation of those ideals and principles is among the many tasks that we must complete in the time ahead.
“Irish unity remains Sinn Féin’s primary objective. We have a strategy to achieve that objective. Others disagree. But they offer no alternative. There is no feasible alternative to Sinn Féin’s strategy for a united Ireland.”
IN CROSSMAGLEN, south Armagh, Carál Ní Chuilín said that the Peace Process offers the fastest way to see the dream of republicans become a reality.
“We have seen massive changes over the past year,” the Sinn Féin speaker said. “Our government is delivering and the All-Ireland Ministerial Council is meeting regularly with ministers from the North and South now working together.”
And she made an appeal for people to join the republican cause for a united Ireland and the achievement of the Irish Republic.
“Now is the time for ordinary people to come to the fore, including those who may not have been involved in the struggle in the past.
“Now is the time to make your voice heard. In working together we can achieve great things.”
THE Dromintee commemoration was chaired by local Councillor Packie McDonald. The Roll of Honour and the Roll of Remembrance were read out by Sean Keating. The Proclamation was read out by Colin McDonald. The Easter message from the Sinn Féin leadership was read out by Brian Fearon.
The main speaker was Paul Butler, MLA for Lagan Valley who said Easter was “a time when we explore our memories and recall those who started out with us on our life’s journey as republican activists and lost their lives in the freedom struggle”.
The commemoration continued with the laying of wreaths at the Republican Plot. The Last Post was sounded by Stephen Murphy before Amhrán na bhFian. The crowd then listened to a rendition of the song James Connolly performed by Ellen Maguire.
GERRY KELLY, H-Block escapee and former hunger striker who is now a minister in the Northern Executive, was in Lurgan, County Armagh. He paid tribute to IRA Volunteers from today’s generations and stretching back to 1916 but he also had a message for those who seek to misuse the name of the IRA in trying to perpetuate armed conflict.
Kelly recalled his time as a member of Fianna Éireann, as an IRA Volunteer, a political prisoner and hunger striker along with Michael Gaughan and Frank Stagg and as a Sinn Féin activist.
He said he was proud of the different roles he fulfilled in the struggle because they were part of a coherent strategy, using tactics that could make a difference.
“Armed struggle is not a philosophy or ideology in itself. It is a decision of last resort, something that can only be justified because there is no other avenue to achieve justice, equality and freedom. It has to have a moral basis. It has to be understood and supported by huge numbers of those who are being oppressed.
“We are in a very different place than we were when I was a teenager, believe me. The Orange state is long gone. ‘A Protestant state for a Protestant people’ has disintegrated. Loyalist pogroms will not be happening because republicans stood up to all of it.
“There is no going back to sectarian domination or a two-tier citizenship. This generation of republicans coming up behind my generation are supremely confident and capable because republicans in previous generations fought that battle.”
Gerry Kelly said that nationalists “will never again accept the status of second-class citizens. Neither will we ever impose second-class citizenship upon anyone else.”
He warned that, in the weeks and months ahead, elements in the DUP will be sounding increasingly offensive and abusive, perhaps particularly on the Irish Language Act and the transfer of powers on policing and justice. “There is, after all,” he noted, “a European election coming up.”
But, despite this, he added, “we will make progress. We will not allow those opposed to change to stop the agenda of change. Unionists should be assured that republicans are totally committed to equality. That is equality for everybody.
“Despite the objectionable behaviour of some bigots, good work is being done at grassroots level by some local unionist and republican leaders in areas across the North. I commend this work.”
In the midst of “this great journey of ours, with all its twists and turns and difficulties,” Gerry Kelly said, “I have a message not just for bigots but for those so-called ‘dissidents’ whose only tactic is to undermine and wreck the Peace Process and the republican political strategy. You will not, you cannot stop us. You will not, you cannot turn the clock back.”
Gerry Kelly made a special appeal directly to those who might think of supporting these groups.
“There are some young people who are sincere; there are those of you who believe in purely physical force republicanism. I can only say that you’re on the wrong road in 2009.
“I want to appeal to you to study the last 40 years and come and debate it with us. There are some in it for personal gain, some involved in drugs – these are the users and abusers of the community. Add to the mix that sprinkling of agents provocateurs who are still fighting the war for securocrats. They will be used, abused and thrown to the wolves by their handlers.
“Whatever the reason for joining these groups, the one thing that is certain is that they have no viable strategy to advance the cause of Irish freedom.
“If you really want to do that then join with the rest of us. We haven’t achieved our primary goal yet but we’re closer now than we have every been in Irish history.”
The annual Easter commemoration for County Cavan was held on Easter Monday in the west Cavan town of Ballyconnell. The commemoration assembled at the local Community Centre and proceeded to the Kieran Doherty memorial in the centre of town. The commemoration was lead by local piper Sean Kelly, followed by a colour party and the Burns/Moley memorial band from Crossmaglen.
The commemoration was chaired by local Sinn Féin candidate, Damien Brady. The oration was given by Leitrim county councillor Martin Kenny after been introduced by Deputy Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin.
A larger than normal crowd turned out for this year’s Easter Commemoration in Cork City. The Youghal Republican Flute Band led the procession from the National Monument in the Grand Parade to the Republican Plot at St. Finbarr’s Cemetery where several hundred people gathered.
Ceremonies were chaired by Henry Cremin. Following the laying of wreaths the Proclamation of the Republic was read by Sinn Féin local election candidate Thomas Gould.
Kerry County Cllr and Ireland South EU candidate Toireasa Ferris was the main speaker. Ferris spoke about the legacy of the men and women of 1916 and the need to spread the republican message of hope to as many people as possible over the coming seven weeks.
Cllr Ferris spoke about the people of Ireland looking for an alternative and leadership and said that it was this generation of republicans who are providing the alternative and leadership needed to get Ireland back to work.
The day concluded with the playing of the National Anthem by the Youghal RFB.
The annual commemoration to remember the Easter 1916 Rising was held at Astna Square, Clonakilty on Easter Sunday with a fine crowd in attendance. Cllr. Cionnaith Ó Súilleabháin chaired the proceedings and extended a Céad Míle Fáilte to all. The commemoration got underway with father and son, Dan and Donal O’ Brien jointly laying the wreath at the monument in memory of the men and women of 1916 and all who have given their lives for Irish freedom since. (Dan’s uncle, Volunteer Thomas O’Brien was captured in the Dripsey Ambush on 28th January 1921 and executed on 28th February in Cork Jail by British Forces.) Following a minute’s silence, the Proclamation of the Republic was read by Donal O’Driscoll. The oration was delivered by local town councillor Paul Hayes.
St. Patrick’s Cemetery in Bandon on was the occasion of a commemoration on Easter Sunday afternoon. The large attendance included Mary Horgan, Sinn Féin candidate for Bantry Town Council.
Lou McCarthy read the Proclamation Noel Harrington, Sinn Féin candidate for Kinsale Town Council read the Roll of Honour.
Sinn Féin local election candidates Rachel McCarthy and Des O’Grady, addressed the assembled crowd.
Rachel McCarthy said the policies of ‘Mé Fein’ had informed the sitting and previous Governments. She said their policies had rewarded greed and neglected many with the result that the economy was brought to its knees. she said that the words
Historian and mentor with the GAA Des O’Grady was the principal speaker. He assured those present that the torch of republicanism had now been passed into their keeping and reminded those present that a local man, IRA Volunteer Diarmaid O’Neill gave his life in the cause of Irish freedom in London in the most recent phase of struggle.
Michael de Courcey raised the Tricolour and Dan Mc Sweeney laid a wreath in memory of the many young Bandon men who had died for a better Ireland.
AS Downpatrick republicans gathered on Monday evening, 13 April, to mark the 93rd anniversary of the 1916 Rising they were acutely aware of the loss they suffered earlier this year with the untimely death of Sinn Féin activist and former councillor Geraldine Ritchie.
Nonetheless the commemoration took place with the usual high spirits and determination we have come to expect from republicans in the South Down area.
Led by a smartly turned out colour party and Banna Fliuit Naomh Phadraig from Kilkeel the parade marched to the republican memorial at St Patrick’s Avenue. The memorial stands on the spot where IRA Volunteer Collie Marks was gunned down by the RUC on April 10 1991.
At the memorial the commemoration ceremony was carried out with quiet efficiency before Sinn Féin Assembly member Mickey Brady (Newry) was called to deliver the main oration.
In his address Brady encouraged the assembled republicans to organise and ensure the success of Sinn Féin’s Bairbre de Brún in next month’s European election.
SEVERAL hundred Republicans gathered at the Garden of Remembrance on Easter Sunday for the main Dublin commemoration.
At the GPO the proceedings where chaired by Cllr Críona Ní Dhálaigh and, after the lowering of the flags, the Proclamation was read out in Irish by North Inner City candidate Ruadhán Mac Aodháin and in English by Jack Moylett. Jer O’Leary then read out an extract from one of James Connolly’s final articles which he penned just a week before Easter 1916 and Tony Duncan read out the Sinn Féin leadership statement.
Sinn Féin Vice President Mary Lou McDonald gave the main oration. During the course of her address she said:
“The electorate in the 26 Counties has lost confidence in the Government. Last week’s budget was further proof that Fianna Fáil and the Greens has no plan, no vision and no courage. The longer they stay in office the worse our economic situation will get.
“The current crisis offers an opportunity – an opportunity to re-shape this state. A recovery plan must focus on ensuring that we come out of this crisis with the kind of society we want, that we have the infrastructure, skills and public services that will put us at the top of the competitive rankings as well as delivering an improved quality of life for all our citizens.
“But change won’t come about by replacing the current Fianna Fáil led Government with a Fine Gael led coalition. That is the politics of tweedle dum versus tweedle dee.
“There was never a greater need for the Left in Irish politics and the trade union movement to unite in common purpose to challenge the conservative agenda and call to account those who have created the economic crisis. Sinn Féin wants to create a new political alliance for change in Ireland to offer a credible egalitarian alternative to Irish voters. Such a movement should involve the Labour Party which has a duty not to prop up Fianna Fáil of Fine Gael. Instead the Labour Party should explore with us and others the potential for co-operation in the future.
She said that while the Peace Process had changed things for the better, Ireland must continue to move forward.
“Republicans are as determined as ever to pursue the democratic goal of Irish unity”, she said.
On Easter Monday local republicans gathered for the annual Dún Laoghaire Easter Commemoration at Deansgrange. About one hundred people met at Bakers Corner before parading along Abbeyroad and via Rockford Park to the cemetery. They were led by local election candidates in the Dún Laoghaire area, Eoin Ó Broin, Shaun Tracey and Sorcha Nic Cormac.
At the graveyard wreaths were layed by Stevie Grennan and Orlaith McCann. The leadership message was read by Dublin City Councillor Críona Ní Dhálaigh before the guest speaker, Mary Lou McDonald MEP gave the main oration.
CARRIGART’S Pat Doherty, MP and MLA for west Tyrone, spoke at the memorial to the Drumboe Martyrs: IRA Volunteers Charlie Daly, Daniel Enright and Timothy O’Sullivan (all from Kerry) and IRA Volunteer Seán Larkin from County Derry. Traditionally, this is one of the biggest Easter commemorations anywhere in Ireland.
While the Irish Peace Process has transformed life in this country and has opened up a peaceful and democratic path to a united Ireland, Pat Doherty said, republicans cannot just sit back and wait for the British Government to do the right thing for Ireland.
“We need to organise for freedom. We need to plan for freedom and we need to unite for freedom.”
And there are more republicans in Ireland now than at any time since partition, he said.
“Our job is to turn those republicans into activists. Change will not come about because we ask for it. Change will only come about if we work together to make it happen.
“There is no place in any struggle for spectators – we must all be activists; we must step forward and contribute.
“That is our duty as republicans in 2009 – to drive forward the republican vision of a united, democratic and free Ireland; to popularise republicanism; to ensure that the political institutions deliver for all of the people.
“Our job is to build the party, and to mobilise the Irish Diaspora across the world behind the demand for Irish unity.”
He said republicans are “very mindful” that there is a significant element within the Southern political establishment and the SDLP “whose inclination is to view the Good Friday Agreement and the institutions which have arisen from it as a final political destination”. It is not the view of republicans, he insisted.
He recalled the words of Professor Joseph Mac Devitt of St Enda’s College, Dublin, said at the same spot in 1925 on the second anniversary of the Drumboe Martyrs:
“No eulogy, however glowing or passionate, could adequately express our regard, our respect and our reverence for our dead comrades, who lived and died in the faith of Tone, Emmet and Pearse.”
Those words, the Sinn Féin MP said, “reflect all of our views”.
Republicans have travelled a long road since 1916 and since the execution of the Drumboe Martyrs, he said.
“But our chosen destination remains the same. I have confidence in republicanism, in republicans and in our strategy. Together we can build a united, sovereign Irish republic based on equality for all.
“This will be the only truly fitting monument to the men and women of 1916, the Drumboe Martyrs and all those who died in the cause of Irish freedom, a free independent, united Ireland.”
On Saturday, 11 April the annual 1916 Commemorations for County Kilkenny took place in Mooncoin and Kilkenny City. There was a large turnout for both commemorations.
EU East and Local Election Candidate for Kilkenny City, Kathleen Funchion was the main speaker at the afternoon commemoration in the City. The crowd included republicans from across the South East, Waterford, Carlow and further afield.
Kathleen spoke of the ‘pride we all have in the men and women of 1916 and how we must give of ourselves each day to build an Ireland that would be a fitting tribute to their sacrifice. June 5 would give the opportunity to the people of Ireland to elect those who have as their core beliefs, the same ideals as our patriot dead. Sinn Féin will deliver the change needed to ensure the Children of the Nation are treated equally’.
The large crowds attending Kilkenny’s 400th anniversary as a city celebrations, applauded as the Carrick Republican Flute Band led the march down High Street.
Wreaths were laid at the monument in Friary Street to Dermody and Hennessy, IRA Volunteers who were killed during an ambush of Crown Forces in 1921.
The main speaker at the Mooncoin Commemoration was local election candidate for the Piltown Electoral area, Peadar de Bluit. He spoke of the need to finish the job begun on Easter Monday 1916,
“Sinn Féin has a strategy to bring Ireland out of the current downturn, get people back to work, and repair the damage done to our economy. We presented this strategy to the government prior to the recent budget. They however chose to ignore it. They would prefer, it seems, to continue to punish working people.”
The Proclamation was read by Kevin Dunphy and wreaths were laid on the grave of republican stalwart Jo Foran. Proceedings were concluded by the playing of Amhran na BhFiann by the Carrick Republican Flute Band.
IN LIMERICK, the annual 1916 Commemoration assembled outside the main gates of Mount St Laurence Cemetery and proceeded to the Republican Plot, where the ceremonies were chaired by Tom Collopy, East Ward local election candidate and vice-chair of Limerick City Sinn Féin.
A wreath on behalf of the Republican Movement was laid by Maura Nash, the Proclamation of 1916 was read by Jenny Loughman (Ballynanty Beg) and the Easter message from the leadership of Sinn Féin was read by Maurice Quinlivan (North Ward candidate).
The main speaker was Aengus Ó Snodaigh who said:
“In the Proclamation of 1916 and also in the Democratic programme of An Chéad Dáil, whose 90th anniversary we celebrate this year, a vision of a new Ireland was clearly set out. Fianna Fáil every year claim they are Irish republicans, including their local TD, Willie O’Dea. But he, like the rest of his Cabinet colleagues and party, have ruled over and facilitated – encouraged even – one of the most corrupt banking and property sectors in the world.
“Over the last few decades, the scale of the corruption has slowly emerged, but the last few months has shocked even those of us who believed that Fianna Fáil was rotten to the core. The corruption they presided over is going to cost us because Fianna Fáil are set to bail out their friends to the tune of billions while at the same time special needs assistants are cut, a promised cystic fibrosis centre is delayed due to lack of funding, and regeneration projects – including the one desperately needed it this city – face an uncertain future.”
Following the main commemoration, a wreath-laying ceremony was held at the grave of Seán Glynn, an IRA Volunteer who died in Arbour Hill Military Prison in September 1936.
The Longford Commemoration was held at the Republican Memeorial in Longford Town following a parade from Market Square.
Proceedings were chaired by Sinn Féin Councillor Brendan Farrell.
The main address was delivered by An Phoblacht Editor Seán Mac Brádaigh. In the course of a wide ranging address Mac Brádaigh who said that the progress of recent years made possible by the Peace Process meant that the struggle for Irish freedom has entered a new phase where peaceful means provide the way forward. But, he added there is still a significant way to go before the achievement of republican goals.
“British jurisdiction in Ireland will end through the combined will and the combined efforts of the Irish people.
“In our journey towards a united, independent Ireland, republicans seek to make peace with our unionist fellow countrymen and women. The new Ireland we seek is one in which the unionist section of our people feels secure. The fulfillment of the vision of 1916 will be the peaceful coming together of Orange and Green.”
Mac Brádaigh urged all present to play their part in support of Sinn Féin in the Local Government and EU elections which, he said were very important elections for struggle.
He concluded by saying:
“The business of 1916 remains unfinished business. It is business we intend to see through to completion. Together we can build the republic.”
On Easter Saturday wreath-laying ceremonies were held in Dundalk at Quay Street in honour of John and Patrick Watters. The proceedings were chaired by Damien Johnson from the Watters Brothers Cumann and the gathering was addressed by local Sinn Féin Councillor Ian Dooley. Wreaths were laid on behalf of the Watters family by Nancy Rafferty, niece of the brothers, the Republican Movement and the Watters Brothers Sinn Féin Cumann.
In Knockbridge a wreath was laid on behalf of Louth Sinn Féin at the plaque in memory of the members of the 4th Northern Division and Sinn Féin County Councillor Tomás Sharkey addressed the gathering.
On Easter Sunday the colourful Easter Commemoration was led by the Dundalk Colour Party and the Martin Doherty Flute Band from Glasgow. They were followed by a group of young people who marked the 100th anniversary of the establishment of Fianna Éireann. At the Republican Monument in St Patricks Cemetery proceeding were chaired by Edel Corrigan, Sinn Féin candidate in upcoming local elections. Wreaths were laid on behalf of the Republican Movement, Louth Sinn Féin and the Worthington Watter/Gerry Halpenny Sinn Féin Cumann. There followed the Last Post and lowering of the flags. The Proclamation was read by local election candidate and long time Sinn Féin member Briege Elliman and the Sinn Féin leadership Easter message was read by Chris O’Donnell.
Edel then introduced the main speaker, Sinn Féin Councillor and EU Candidate Tomás Sharkey who addressed the large crowd.
During the course of his address Sharkey said:
“Easter is a good time to think of the regrowth, regrouping, reenergizing and reorganising that we must be part of. Let us bring as many people as possible into the planning for commemorations into the future. A party always needs building. Sinn Féin Cumainn always need strengthening. Council, Dáil and European seats are not just held or retained; they have to be won every time.
We are facing into EU elections across the island. We are the only party contesting in all the Irish constituencies. There will also be local government polls in the 26 counties. These are important elections and it is important that we once again maximise our political strength.
Tacaimís, oibrímís agus buaimís le chéile.
Around a hundred Republicans from Meath gathered in the small village of Ballinlough, Kells to mark the 93rd anniversary of the Easter rising. The crowd was led by a colour party and a piper. Cllr Michael Gallagher chaired the event with speeches from Ireland East EU candidate Tomás Sharkey and Cllr Conor Ferguson, Kells Town Council. A wreath was laid on the grave of IRA volunteers Seamus Cogan and Patrick McDonnell on behalf of Meath Sinn Féin.
Nenagh Sinn Féin held its annual commemoration on Easter Saturday this year. After a march through the town led by the Dunloy Fallen Comrades Flute Band from Co. Antrim, the participants assembled in the town’s Banba Square.
A wreath was laid at the Republican Monument by elderly citizen and long-time republican Kitty Quigley. This was followed by a reading of the Proclamation and a recital of the names of all those from North Tipperary who died during the Rising and War of Independence.
Local election candidate Tom O’Donoghue read the Democratic Programme from the First Dáil to mark its 90th anniversary. Former republican prisoner Ella O’Dwyer then read the Easter Statement from the leadership of Sinn Féin.
The main oration of the day was delivered by European candidate Toireasa Ferris. Toireasa stressed that it was not sufficient for the present generation of republicans to “hand on the flame” to the next, but that we must seek power because “whoever takes power over the next few years can shape the world for the better for years to come”.
Chairman for the day, Cllr Séamus Morris, gave the final address, identifying the architects of the current economic meltdown, emphasising that “those who are asking us to share the pain are not willing to share any of the pain themselves or indeed accept the blame for the bankrupting of this proud country that so many gave their lives for in 1916”.
HUNDREDS of republicans from the east Tyrone area gathered on Easter Saturday for the annual Easter parade from Coalisland town to the cemetery at Brackaville.
Led by a colour party and accompanied by the Martin Hurson Republican Flute Band and the South Derry Martyrs Flute Band, the parade, the largest there has been in the town in some years, made made its way to the cemetery.
On reaching the cemetery, the colour party broke off and walked to the graves of Volunteers who are interred in family plots where wreaths were laid on behalf of the Tyrone Brigade of Óglaigh na hÉireann.
After the individual wreath-layings ended, the colour party moved on to the Republican Plot where, under the guidance of Sinn Féin MLA Michelle O’Neill, who chaired proceedings, the commemoration ceremony got underway.
Wreaths were laid at graves of Volunteers Tony Doris, Seán O’Farrell and Kevin Barry O’Donnell before the Tyrone Roll of Honour was read out.
After the lowering of the flags, during which a lament was played, South Armagh republican Seán Hughes delivered the main oration.
Hughes said that while it may take some unionists time to realise that the situation has changed “their leaders know that there is no going back to the old days of sectarian domination and two-tier citizenship.
“The relationship between the North of Ireland and Britain has also been fundamentally altered and an increasingly confident republican community is taking co-ownership, as is our right, of every sphere of public, political and institutional life here. And, importantly, a peaceful and democratic path to a united Ireland has been opened up.
“But that does not mean that we republicans can sit back and wait for the British Government to do the right thing for Ireland. We need to organise for freedom.”
EU candidate Cllr Pádraig Mac Lochlainn addressed the main commemoration attended by over 200 people at the Republican Plot in Sligo Cemetery, reminding them of the historic context of the north-west in the Sligo commemoration:
“Two of the most central figures in the organisation and execution of the Easter Rising are associated with this region: Constance Markievicz in Sligo and Seán Mac Diarmada from Leitrim.”
The men and women involved in the Easter Rising represented the coming together of a number of progressive forces in Irish society, he said.
“There was the cultural and sporting revival, the workers’ movement stemming from the 1913 Lock-Out, the women’s suffragettes, and the traditional republican separatists. That is why the 1916 Proclamation, read out here today, embodies all the principles that we hold dear today and which are needed, now more than ever, as a guide to us in these turbulent times.
“We remain deeply committed to these principles, to independence, unity and social equality. Unlike other parties, we never abandoned the people of the Six Counties to the oppression of an apartheid state. But now we need to reach out to other republicans around us – republicans in other political parties, in the GAA, in the credit union movement and in wider society. We have to forge a new alliance in order to offer a real, credible egalitarian alternative to the failed politics of successive governments here in the 26 Counties.”
Earlier in Ballisodare, Pádraig Hallinan, candidate for west Sligo, delivered an address at the graveside of 1916 veteran Martin Savage. He told the crowd to remember not only the men and women of 1916 but also the many thousands of exiled Irish people who died in foreign lands for the dream of a free and equal land.
IRISH republicans in San Francisco, USA, gathered at the grave of Fenian hero Thomas Desmond on Easter Sunday to hear Sinn Féin Chairperson Declan Kearney at the 1916 Rising commemoration.
Thomas Desmond is honoured for his key role in the escape of six Fenian prisoners from Fremantle, Australia, in an operation masterminded by Clann na Gael in the United States in 1876.
Addressing a crowd of over 250 supporters, Declan Kearney said:
“Our history tells us that the greatest potential for change in Ireland has always been realised when the Diaspora, and in particular Irish-America, maximised its strength and influence. Now, in 2009, Sinn Féin is calling upon Irish America to organise a modern day momentum to bring about a united Ireland.”
The launch pad for this effort will be two major conferences organised by Sinn Féin this summer on 13 June in New York and 27 June in San Francisco, focusing on the theme “A United Ireland – How Do We Get There?” These will be open forums, hosted by Sinn Féin President Gerry Adams, where Irish-Americans will be encouraged offer new ideas about how their efforts can help achieve an independent, united Ireland.
In his Easter speech, Declan Kearney emphasised the importance of securing Irish-American support in both political and economic terms. “Our priorities must include maximising the goodwill which exists for the Peace Process in the new US administration, in the US Senate, and in state legislatures and cities across America.
“We need to continue encouraging other state and city comptrollers to follow the example of New York State and New York City in signalling investment of pension funds investment to Ireland.”
During the visit, the Sinn Féin chairperson met with representatives from numerous Irish-American groups, including trade unions, the GAA, San Francisco’s United Irish Societies, the Emerald Society, educators, local media, attorneys and long-time supporters to stress the key role the Irish Diaspora plays in stimulating change in Ireland. He was also the featured speaker at the Ulster Gaelic Club Easter Breakfast.
He also met with San Francisco Supervisor Sean Elsbernd, who is eager to be involved in the investment campaign.
“Sinn Féin's message this Easter,” Declan Kearney said, “is that with unity and strength at home, and in the Irish Diaspora, we will move forward together, and make the Republic proclaimed in 1916 a living reality.”