2 November 2000 Edition

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Crumley honours McSwiney in London

The Sinn Féin Mayor of Derry, Councillor Cahal Crumley, was guest speaker at the Connolly Association Terence McSwiney Memorial Lecture, held in Camden Town Hall, London on Saturday 28 October. The lecture, together with a mass, is held annually in honour of McSwiney, the Lord Mayor of Cork, who died on Hunger Strike in Brixton Prison on 25 October 1920, protesting against his continued incarceration by the British authorities.

In his lecture, entitled `A Vision of a New Ireland', Councillor Crumley told his audience that he was acutely aware of the ironies in his addressing such a meeting. As a former political prisoner, blanketman and now Mayor of a principal Irish city, he, like Terence McSwiney, had been subject to the British policy of criminalisation, a policy which spanned not only the last 80 years, but which has been in operation for centuries. The date was also significant, he said, because, ``60 years on, exactly 20 years ago this week, seven other Irish republicans started a hunger strike in Long Kesh prison for the very same ideals for which Terence McSwiney died. They refused to allow the British government to criminalise the struggle for independence and Irish sovereignty.''

He also recalled the words of McSwiney who said: ``We should make this one resolution. Our future history shall be more glorious than that of any contemporary state. We shall look for prosperity, no doubt, but let our enthusiasm be for beautiful living. We shall build up our strength, not for conquest, but for a pledge of brotherhood and the defence of the weaker ones of the earth. We shall rise to wake from a wicked dream of material greed and tyrannical power to the wonder of a regenerated spirit and a new and beautiful dream. We will establish in our state a true freedom which will live forever.''

McSwiney's dream, said Councillor Crumley, is still the dream of Irish republicans but ``it is a dream which is now within our grasp. Today's republican leadership has learned well from the mistakes of the past and it will not be hoodwinked by British duplicity. The British government and the enemies of Irish sovereignty, including many in our own country, have never before come up against such formidable republican negotiators. This leadership will realise the dream of McSwiney for the Irish people.''

``Most of the barriers to creating a new, inclusive, independent, sovereign Ireland are being demolished. The arguments historically used by Unionists and British Tories to convince the non-nationalist population of the benefits of maintaining the link the Britain are no longer sustainable. In order to sustain a solid grip on power, to maintain a false sense of dependency on the British way of life in the Protestant and unionist population, politicians have instilled a sense of bigotry about everything Irish into the unionist mind.''

``Unfortunately for these leaders, the electorate have become educated and extremely politicised; today they no longer follow the advice of these politicians blankly. In a personal capacity, it is unmistakable that those who are no longer blinded by the anti-Catholic, anti-Irish rhetoric show a willingness and an acceptance of the need for change. They are open to new ideas and they no longer dismiss as a misty-eyed republican dream the idea of a united Ireland. In fact, many of them now accept the probability, rather the possibility, that it will happen in this generation. It is just not yet opportune for them to proclaim this publicly.''

``I believe that many amongst those pragmatists, particularly in the unionist business and professional sectors, are preparing privately for what they see as inevitable - the reunification of Ireland.''

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