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Gerry Adams launches Sinn Féin proposals for 1916 Revolutionary Quarter

Sinn Féin is determined to ensure that 2016, the 1916 Centenary is marked in the most appropriate way possible, as a fitting popular acknowledgement of the past but also, and just as importantly, as a pointer to a better future.

Sinn Féin is not opposed to sensible welfare reforms. We are opposed to the agenda, which seeks to make the most vulnerable and ordinary working families pay for the greed and excesses of the bankers


 “The PSNI were on the scene but despite the gang committing a criminal offence and acting aggressively the PSNI failed to take any action.”



Latest Statements

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Sinn Féin MLA and Chairperson of the all party group on angling Cathal Ó hOisín has said more needs to be done in order to protect our rivers.

 Speaking after a major fish kill on the River Oona Mr Ó hOisín said,

 “It is important that we get to the bottom of this recent fish kill which has seen up to a 1000 trout killed in the river Oona due to pollution.

 “All too often we see rivers polluted without the people responsible being held to account and this is unacceptable.

 “Angling is the world’s most popular sport and many clubs invest in local rivers to maintain the sport yet all this work can be wiped out in one incident.

 “The Environment Agency now needs to identify the source of the latest pollution and ascertain whether this spillage was accidental or deliberate and ensure that action is taken to avoid any further contamination of the river.”

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Sinn Féin Housing spokesperson Dessie Ellis TD has criticised the government’s response to the housing crisis, as highlighted by a Social Justice Ireland report published today.

He also described recent government measures in housing as “far too little and very late” stating that they smacked of a cynical ploy with local and European elections looming.

Deputy Ellis said:

“Week in week out I and other Sinn Fein TD’s have been raising housing issues with this government. We have been demanding they act on the issues of the devastating shortage of housing for renters and those who can’t afford the private market prices.

“I have raised the issue of increasing numbers of homelessness and rough sleeping countless times with the Minister for Housing as well as the Buy to Let Mortgage crisis which threatens a huge number of tenants across the state.

“For the life time of this government these issues were ignored as were proposals to tackle them. We called for a code of conduct on the failing Buy to Let Mortgage schemes but the government did not act.

“Last year we presented a plan to build 9000 social houses in 18 months which the Fine Gael and Labour government voted against.

“The latest move by the government to renovate 952 vacant social houses is too little, far too late.

“We welcome even one more home becoming available but we have had 3 years of this government doing next to nothing on this issue.

“Two years ago they told us they could deliver 2000 homes through NAMA, they have yet to deliver even 500.

“Housing needs major investment.

“Ignoring this will have a much greater cost both in the suffering of people who are homeless or living in bad, insecure housing and in the expense of trying to control the crisis rather than fixing it.”

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“The forthcoming election is an important one. We can all make a difference. The politics of Europe impact locally in a huge way. Europe delivers over 70% of our legislation and the policies pursued by the European parliament affects us all.

“Across this island the Irish and British governments have tied themselves to the policies of austerity.

“This has cost jobs, has damaged long-term economic recovery, has impacted negatively on the most vulnerable in our society and has seen many of our young people emigrating for better future.

“This is unsustainable. Sinn Féin has fought these policies across Ireland. I believe that Ireland’s place, North and South, is in Europe and Sinn Féin’s role in the EU is to ‘Put Ireland First’. Others have failed to this.

“By electing a strong team across Ireland we can take a strong voice to Europe. Sinn Féin is the only party on this island to be standing candidates in every single constituency. Our team will, if elected provide a united and positive voice for all the citizens of Ireland.

“I am an Irish Republican. I want to see an end to partition and a genuine process of reconciliation based on equality and tolerance, an end to the failed polices of austerity, the implementation of an all-Ireland economic recovery programme, – united we are stronger.”

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North Antrim Sinn Féin MLA Daithí McKay has said that republicans should renew their focus on building genuine relationships with unionist communities and tackling the 'scourge' of sectarianism.

Speaking at today's Easter commemoration in Clones, Co Monaghan he argued that setting aside differences between nationalists and unionists and cherishing citizens equally was a key part of the 1916 proclamation.

He said,

“The 1916 Proclamation reads: 

Cherishing all the children of the nation equally & oblivious of the differences carefully fostered by an alien government which have divided a minority from the majority in the past.’

"The ‘differences carefully fostered’ by British governments over centuries, as referred to in the Proclamation, need to be addressed.

"Sectarianism is one of our country’s greatest scourges and tackling it must be a priority. Unionist engagement and the building of relationships needs to be authentic, it needs to be embedded in all republican structures and it needs to be challenging.

"We don’t achieve anything, and we have achieved nothing, from taking easy decisions and staying within our comfort zones.

"It was within this context that Martin McGuinness & Sinn Féin took part in the President’s visit to Britain.

“What that was about primarily, was the people of this island, the divisions among us and seeking to address those divisions.

“The visit was good for our peace process, it was good for our diaspora in Britain and it was good in building relationships that lead to more positive change on this island.

It was also difficult for many of us, and understandably so.

“But it is now incumbent on the British and Irish governments to build on the potential created by the visit to promote a process of national reconciliation.” CRÍOCH/ENDS

The full text of Daithí McKay’s oration at the Eater Commemoration in Clones 22/4/14

It is a great honour to be asked to speak here in Co Monaghan, a county with a great republican tradition, from the Tan War to Operation Harvest. From the election of Kieran Doherty (Anti H-Block candidate and hunger striker) to the Dáil, which shook the 26-County establishment at the time to the republican success we will see here in the coming weeks which will demonstrate that the old establishments north and south are rightly resigned to the history books.

On this the 98th Anniversary of the rising we commemorate all of our revolutionaries proudly. We are also marking the 100th anniversary of Cumann na mBan, we recall Constance Markievicz, the first woman MP elected in 1918 and the 1st female cabinet Minister in not only Ireland but Europe.

This was not just a national revolution, 1916 and the fight that was undertaken was an international event that rippled across the globe.

Terence MacSwiney – the Mayor of Cork died on hunger strike in Brixton in 1920 but after his death a collection of his writings were collected and printed, not only here in Ireland but also in many different languages in India. They had a huge influence on those that went on to resist British rule there including Gandhi.

So the revolution that the republican movement of that time undertook was seismic. The Proclamation was a radical document in its time and still is. The struggle set an example to the world in terms of the equality of women and we showed the world that small nations could successfully challenge the empires that dominated that era. Irish republicans influenced those that became involved in many independence struggles elsewhere among which was Ho Chi Minh who went on to lead resistance against colonialism in Vietnam.

And of course that struggle, all of our resistance struggles continue to inspire us. Not only in terms of the great feats that we all hear about but the individual sacrifices of each volunteer, each volunteer’s family. The commitment, the selflessness, the courage to put their own lives on the line, the grief and loss that many had to endure and still suffer to this day and into the future. Physical injury, the trauma of individual events, of imprisonment, of torture, of the loss of a loved one. That isn’t history, that is very much part of our present and something that is not mentioned enough often because of the selflessness of many of those people.

That is why the work of ex prisoners groups continue to be important and I am glad to see that there is one operating in the local area, Clones Fáilte. Such groups are vital in addressing the health and wellbeing needs of ex prisoners and their families.

In two years time we will celebrate the centenary of the rising, we will celebrate the vision of the Proclamation and promote the core tenets of that document that are just as relevant today.

“ The right of the people of Ireland to the ownership of Ireland.

“A Sovereign Independent State.

“Guarantees religious and civil liberty, equal rights & equal opportunities to all its citizens.

“Establishment of a National Government elected by all her men & women

“To pursue happiness and prosperity of the whole nation.

“Cherishing all the children of the nation equally & oblivious of the differences carefully fostered by an alien government which have divided a minority from the majority in the past.”

The ‘differences carefully fostered’ by British governments over centuries, as referred to in the Proclamation, needs to be addressed.

Sectarianism is one of our countries greatest scourges and tackling it must be a priority. Unionist engagement & the building of relationships needs to be genuine, it needs to be embedded in all republican structures and it needs to be challenging.

We don’t achieve anything, and we have achieved nothing, from taking easy decisions and staying within our comfort zones.

It was within this context that Martin McGuinness & Sinn Féin took part in the President’s visit to Britain. What that was about primarily, was the people of this island, the divisions among us and seeking to address those divisions.

It was good for our peace process, it was good for our diaspora in Britain and it was good in building relationships that lead to more positive change on this island.

It was also difficult for many of us, and understandably so.

But by challenging ourselves we challenge others. Unionism is in a leadership crisis because at the moment it has no leadership!

 What we are now witnessing in the north is the last throes of the sectarian unionist tradition. The sectarianism that drove Catholics out of the Belfast shipyards, that denied a house to a Catholic family has now been reduced to a rump of a few flag protestors and some members of the main Unionist parties, which refuse to recognise that times are changing. Gone is the Ulster Workers Strikers, gone is the Anglo Irish protestors, gone are the Drumcree blockades – and that is a sign of the disappearance of the mobs that unionist politicians have used and wound up with their rhetoric of fear and religious hatred for over 100 years.

 Flags, parades and the past are continually being used to rake up the sectarian coals, so we need to address them and the Haas talks should have been the start of that.

 Instead unionism leaders stalled and their stalling has been reinforced by the British secretary of state adopting a unionist agenda on the past, an agenda, which denies the true extent of collusion that went right to the very top of the Tory government of the time.

 Insulting victims in this way does nothing to move things forward, only back.

 It demonstrates once again the need for a process totally independent of the British Government who has a clear interest in maintaining their narrative of the conflict. What we need to see is a truth process that helps to address the hurt that all parties caused during the conflict and that contributes to community reconciliation. What we also need to see is the Dublin government re-engage as they have effectively neglected the peace process for the past number of years. That is a huge indictment on a government that has not taken their responsibilities in regard to the north seriously.

 The Dublin government don’t take many of their responsibilities to citizens here seriously either. Labour is content to facilitate the introduction of water charges, the same water charges that Sinn Féin blocked in the Six Counties. The government is content to aim the majority of the cuts at those least able to afford them.

There is a better way. Sinn Féin believes that a more equal society makes for a better society. A society where obscene amounts of money are not paid out in wages to bankers, whether or not they have get out of jail free cards. A society, where everyone is treated equally, and where public services are free of corruption and interference.

 We recently lost a great friend of Irish republicanism in the late Nelson Mandela, someone who knew all about a lifetime of struggle. I have a quote of his on my office wall, and I am sure many other republicans have the same, which states that

‘It always seems impossible until it’s done.’

And I’m sure that the Rising & the war against the British empire seemed impossible until that Easter Monday in 1916. The same could be said of the election of Kieran Doherty here in 1981 with over 9,000 votes or the election of the first Sinn Féin TD of modern times here in 1997.

But we achieved those goals and when we achieved them we set new ones. And when we achieve them we set the bar higher again.

In 4 weeks we will elect the strongest SF local government team and highest number of MEPs, that we have seen in our lifetimes.

Be in little doubt that we will soon become the largest party on this island, that we will be in government north and south and that we will effectively address the ‘differences fostered’ to which the proclamation refers.

These objectives do not seem as impossible as they once were and we can now realise the republican goal of an independent republic, self governing and working in the interests of equality and social justice. Much of the hard work has already been done, what we need to do is finish the job. CRÍOCH/ENDS

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After taking part in the state commemoration of the 1916 Easter Rising in Dublin this morning Sinn Féin's Martin McGuinness was the main speaker at the Easter Commemoration in Monaghan town today. Martin McGuinness said that "shared hurts need to be acknowledged, lessened, and if possible healed".  

As part of a wide-ranging speech, Martin McGuinness said,

"Republicans are committed to a genuine process of national reconciliation and this means reaching out to the unionist community in a spirit of generosity and understanding.

“Earlier this month a confident and united Sinn Fein leadership decided that republican representatives, including myself, should participate fully in the Irish President's state visit to Britain. 

“Our party leadership took this decision in the context of republican objectives, and as an initiative to further strengthen the process of change and reconciliation.

"Republicans have shown in words and deeds that we are absolutely committed to this process of reconciliation. But unionists must also participate in this process. They need to reach out to republicans. The conflict was long and bitter. Many people were hurt on all sides. No one has a monopoly on suffering. It is time to begin discussing how shared hurts can be acknowledged, lessened and, if possible, healed.

"Republicans fully acknowledge the hurt that we inflicted in the course of the conflict. Unionists also need to recognise the hurt they have created.

“They need to turn their back on the inequality and repression that marked 50 years of one party rule in the north. They need to challenge rejectionist unionists. They need to show positive leadership." CRÍOCH/ENDS

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Full text of Gerry Kelly’s speech at the Newry commemoration of the Easter Rising follows statement below.

Sinn Féin MLA Gerry Kelly has appealed today to the Loyal Orders to step up to the mark and enter into a new phase of reconciliation.

The North Belfast MLA was speaking at a Republican commemoration in Newry to mark the 1916 Easter Rising.

Gerry Kelly said:

“Another group which appears to be anti-peace and reconciliation will be marching past St Patrick’s Catholic Chapel and Carrick Hill tomorrow. 

“They will also march through the Republican areas of Ardoyne, Mountainview and the Dales in North Belfast.

“The Loyal Orders have not stepped up to the mark in trying to move past conflict and into a new phase of reconciliation. Unfortunately their intransigence is not just tolerated but is encouraged by Unionist politicians.

 “A small start would be for Unionist politicians themselves to show a little respect. I appeal to the various loyal orders to get into meaningful dialogue with residents. All resolutions start with meaningful dialogue.”

And the Sinn Féin MLA accused Republican dissidents of waging war on the Nationalist community.

“There is another small minority in our community who are attempting to derail any progress in policing, in the peace process and the political process. They have an agenda of a return to a conflict.”

However, Gerry Kelly accused dissidents of being heavily involved in criminality and sais they were at war with their own community.

“To date the biggest percentage of any killings carried out by these dissidents have been in internal feuds. 

“This is not a struggle for Irish Freedom!  If they are at war it is with each other and the Nationalist community.

“Groups with no popular support, no public face and no strategy for the achievement of republican objectives are now merely killing people for the sake of killing.” CRÍOCH/ENDS

The speech delivered by Sinn Féin MLA Gerry Kelly at the Newry Easter commemoration 2014

Tá áthas mór orm a bheith anseo inniu le cupla briathar a rá ar na daoine a fuair bás ar son saoirse na hÉireann nócha is a hocht bliain ó shin.

Easter week 1916 did not just inspire generations of Irish Republicans. It showed many peoples throughout the world that they could rise up against the tyranny of colonial rule and oppression – no matter how large the enemy or how few the rebels.

Our comrades who gave their lives then and in generations since were about achieving a free independent and united Ireland based on a bedrock of equality.

I want to welcome all of you here today, especially the families of our fallen comrades who have suffered so much personal loss and grief.  I want to pay tribute to the bravery, leadership and commitment of the IRA and the other revolutionary groups in this generation who took to the streets of our towns and the highways and byways of our countryside.

Volunteers in the IRA knew that military action on its own could not achieve our goal.  They and others knew that our opponents and enemies had to be faced up to in every sphere of life. 

What can be said of those who paid the supreme sacrifice? They were ordinary people like any of us standing here. They had family and friends who they loved and who loved them. They came from North, South, East and West and what bonded them together was a profound love of Ireland and its people.

What made these ordinary men and women extraordinary, was that they had a vision of a New Ireland based on freedom and equality. They rose to the challenge of that vision, despite the fact that they might have to forfeit their own lives or liberty. They led from the front, prepared to sacrifice their all so that others could live in a free Ireland.

This phase of our struggle has gone through many stages. Irish Republicans are highly respected around the world-especially in conflict zones – because of our ability to strategise and versatility in adapting to changing circumstances while keeping focused on our primary objective of uniting Ireland.

Throughout the past half century we have also had to face up to counter-strategies and resistance to freedom by those wedded to partition and the failed politics of the past.

The most recent example of this can be seen in the ‘key note speech’ given by the British Secretary of State-whose name, believe me, will not go down in Irish history.  In dealing with the most sensitive of issues she tried to instruct those dealing with the legacy of the past to concentrate less on killings by state forces.

She effectively repudiated the Haass/O’Sullivan proposals for bringing truth and justice to individual victims and survivors by advocating a bias in favour of State Forces.  Instead of the British Government showing the necessary leadership in supporting the compromise proposals alongside the Irish Government, the US Administration, Sinn Féin, SDLP and Alliance, it supported the prejudice of rejectionist unionism.

Villiers was quickly followed by Gregory Campbell’s statement on Radio Foyle that killings by state forces were miniscule’.   Typically he casually insulted the memories of hundreds of victims and their loved ones still living.

Ironically, while Unionism and Villiers are trying to unpick power-sharing and international agreements a confident and cohesive Sinn Fein leadership participated fully in the Irish President’s state visit to Britain. This was an unprecedented initiative to further strengthen the process of change started by the Irish Peace Process. It was also aimed at advancing national reconciliation in Ireland by promoting outreach to the Unionist section of our community as well as peace between the islands.

Despite the recent attitude of political unionism it is important for Republicans to contribute in a significant way to the continuing change in Ireland and between the island of Ireland and Britain. 

Many Unionists grabbed on to the issue of the ‘On the Runs’ as an excuse for non-engagement with Republicans.  Indeed, to their shame leading members of the SDLP scrambled to outdo Unionists in their outrage. So let me put the record straight. There was no secret deal.  The British and Irish governments made a joint, public statement in 2001 at the Weston Park negotiations that it was their intention to resolve the issue.

Despite protestations, all the parties have had briefings on the issue fairly regularly over the intervening years. Members of political parties sitting on the Policing Board, for instance, received information on OTRs on no less than 22 separate occasions.

Sinn Féin made it clear that part of a developing peace process had to deal with the ability of people to return to normal family life in a post-conflict situation. This, not surprisingly, is a common issue in post-conflict situations around the globe. What seems to have taken Unionists by surprise was, perhaps, that Sinn Féin had put forward the names of over 200 people for processing. We make no apology for assisting so many people in returning to their families.

Furthermore the issue of OTRs is not going away as there are still cases to be resolved and commitments given by the British and Irish governments, which have to be implemented. We will be holding them to those commitments.

It is no coincidence that those most vociferous in their opposition are the same people who opposed the release of political prisoners.  Many of them also opposed the overall Good Friday Agreement.

Of course, that is not the only cabal trying to hinder and attack progress.  There is a small minority in our community who are attempting to derail any progress in policing, in the peace process and the political process.  They have an agenda of a return to a conflict that they seem to be more comfortable with – despite the fact that many of them took no active part in that struggle.

I get angry when Republicanism's reputation is sullied by small groups, which are involved in criminal activity.  Whether it’s in Dublin, Derry, Belfast or Tyrone ordinary people are finding it more and more difficult to detect any semblance of political struggle when it comes to these small groups, no matter what grand titles they choose for themselves.

On Good Friday last we had another example of where these various groups are at, with the shooting dead of Tommy Crossan, one of their own, in Belfast.  In fact the present mishmash of small armed groups, despite their vacuous claims of being military organisations, have been concentrating on killing each other or other members of the community.

These other wannabe groups trying to claim the title of freedom fighters have no strategy to speak of; otherwise they would be presenting it to the world.  Whether they call themselves The New IRA, The Old IRA, the Belfast Continuity IRA, the Limerick Continuity IRA, Oglaigh na hEireann, RAAD, CAAD or SAD – a name or title does not give them legitimacy.

Extorting money from drugs dealers is no better than drugs dealing itself because it allows them to continue their dealing – of course at a price.

Robberies for personal gain are not revolutionary acts. So-called ‘punishment shootings’ of young people does not resolve any problems especially when some of these actions are driven by personal fall-outs.

To date the biggest percentage of any killings carried out by these dissidents have been in internal feuds.  This is not a struggle for Irish Freedom!  If they are at war it is with each other and the Nationalist community.

Groups with no popular support, no public face and no strategy for the achievement of republican objectives are now merely killing people for the sake of killing.

In the history of Irish Republicanism, choosing armed struggle was always a decision of last resort and it was never acceptable for personal gain.

Let me say this loud and clear to this alphabet of organisations – There only was one IRA, one Irish Republican Army. Ceann amháin! Óglaigh Na hÉireann!

While being very critical of these organisations let me also say that I do not tar every individual with the same brush.  I know that there are genuine people, especially young people, who see that there are still injustices to be rectified. They may feel that there is no other way to change things.

But, let’s remember that the Good Friday Agreement was not the resolution of our long struggle for Irish freedom. It was however an agreement to set up structures for a peaceful and political way to right wrongs and to achieve our goal of a United Ireland.

As we remember our fallen comrades today, it is the right time, I believe to criticise those who would falsely or mistakenly claim their mantle but let me also appeal to those among them who genuinely believe in a united Ireland, to take up the offer of dialogue made many times by Republican leaders.

Another group, which appears to be anti-peace and reconciliation will be marching past St Patrick’s Catholic Chapel and Carrick Hill tomorrow – yet again. They will also march through the Republican areas of Ardoyne, Mountainview and the Dales in North Belfast.

Many of the Loyal Orders have not stepped up to the mark in trying to move past conflict and into a new phase of reconciliation. Unfortunately their intransigence is not just tolerated but is encouraged by Unionist politicians.

Respect is not a huge demand in 2014.  Respect isn’t even a concession. Unionist politicians over the last number of months have not shown themselves ready to lead from the front.  A small start would be Unionist politicians themselves showing a little respect.  I appeal to the various loyal orders to get into meaningful dialogue with residents.  All resolutions start with meaningful dialogue.

And let’s remember what this is all about.  Fundamentally this is about equality. Equality is a threat to no one. The united Ireland Sinn Féin seeks to build is inclusive, pluralist and where all cultures are comfortable, secure and can find the fullest expression of their identity. That includes Irishness and Britishness as well as other cultures. We must deal with the reality that we are fast becoming an inter-cultural society.

Irish unity makes political, economic and social sense. We believe that a new, agreed united Ireland is best achieved through a genuine process of national reconciliation. But, let’s be clear – there is no miracle in a United Ireland.  We have to prepare for the type of Ireland that we want, the type of Ireland as described in the 1916 Proclamation.

The Good Friday Agreement provides for a poll on Irish unity.  To secure this means building support so that the Irish and British governments are moved to fulfill their obligations to hold one.

All those who wish to see a united, independent Ireland need to mobilise and campaign to persuade the people of Ireland to support unity and the creation of a New Republic.

Partition created two conservative states on this island. Both were the antithesis of the republican vision of Tone, and of the 1916 leaders.  Their vision, Sinn Féin’s vision, of a genuine republic governed in the interests of all its citizens, is shared by a growing number of people.

Today, people across this island are suffering.  Hundreds of thousands are struggling to survive and young people are flooding out of the country to Australia, Canada and elsewhere.  Indeed it is reminiscent of the Ireland of the 1950s and ‘60s.

This is the result of the policies of both Fianna Fáil and their successors in Fine Gael and Labour, implementing failed austerity policies written for them by their political masters in the EU and IMF.

But across Ireland, North and South, Sinn Féin is leading the political fight-back against austerity and cuts and for a New Republic.

Sinn Féin is a party on the rise. In the North we are the undisputed voice of Nationalism and are transforming a society moving out of conflict and into a new shared future.  In the South we are providing the credible, radical opposition and alternative to the gombeenism, corruption and lack of vision of a political establishment, which has failed the Irish people.

98 years ago the Easter Rising brought together republicans, nationalists, trade unionists and the women’s movement in the cause of Irish independence. Building alliances to increase political strength in our pursuit of a united Ireland is still a very relevant part of struggle today.

Republicanism on this island has never been so strong, so organised and so capable of achieving its objectives of a 32-County Republic with social justice and equality at its core.  But we still have not achieved the necessary political clout.

Sinn Féin is the only all-Ireland party and we have elected representatives throughout the country. But we need more. We need to build the party by opening it up to more and more people and especially to women and young people.

We face into local and European elections next month right across the whole island.  We are standing in the region of 350 candidates, young and old, female and male.  We have never had a better opportunity to make a huge surge forward in political representation and strength.  It is no accident.  It has taken hard work and it will take more.  We all need to go from here into overdrive for the upcoming election with the intent of making this the best election any of us have ever been involved in.  Let’s surprise all those watching.  Let’s surprise ourselves!  

 Let me return to our fallen comrades before finishing. More specifically let me quote two fallen comrades very relevant to today.

 The first is the great James Connolly, one of the 1916 martyrs. Speaking at Wolfe Tone’s graveside, he said:

“We who hold his principles believe that any movement which would successfully grapple with the problem of national freedom must draw its inspiration, not from the moulding records of the past, but from the glowing hopes of the living present, the vast possibilities of the mighty future”. 

Ní raibh Séamas Ó Conghaile ina phríosúnach don stair.  A chomradaithe agus a chairde, inniu agus as seo amach tá muid ag déanamh ár staire féin agus ár dtodhchaí féin.

 James Connolly was no prisoner of history.  Comrades and friends, today and into the future we are shaping our own history and destiny.

 This generation has the greatest opportunity since partition to finally achieve genuine national self-determination.  We do not underestimate the challenges ahead. Indeed as Republicans we embrace challenge, we embrace struggle and we embrace the responsibility that comes with activism.

 Since we last came together we have lost another great comrade and supporter as well as an international statesman; Nelson Mandela.  A colossus, that the British Establishment called a ‘Terrorist’.  I had the privilege of meeting Madiba on three occasions.  He was a living legend and his huge legacy lives on.  I would like to dedicate a quote from this great freedom fighter, to the young people here who are continuing our great struggle in another generation:

 OUR DEEPEST FEAR…… is not that we are inadequate.  Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure.  It is our light not our darkness that frightens us most…..   Your playing small doesn’t serve the world.  There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won’t feel insecure around you….  As we let our light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to DO THE SAME.  As we are liberated from our own fear…OUR PRESENCE AUTOMATICALLY LIBERATES OTHERS.

 In 1916 men and women from all walks of life came together to advance the struggle for a united independent Ireland.

 We come here all these years later with a live political project and the commitment, determination and confidence to finish that historic task.

Ar aghaidh linn le chéile.

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Sinn Féin MLA for West Belfast Jennifer McCann has slammed those behind the killing of a man on the Springfield Road today.

 Speaking today Ms McCann said:

“This killing was in broad daylight in a very busy part of the Springfield Road. 

“Those behind it had no consideration for anyone in this community except themselves and their own criminal agenda.

“They have shot a man dead and endangered anyone in the immediate vicinity.  

“There is now a family in mourning and a community traumatised by this shooting. 

“It will not go unnoticed that with sadness, at Easter time as republicans gather to commemorate their patriot dead, that there are criminals on the streets masquerading as republicans for their own ends. 

“This community does not want them. They need to listen to this community, stop these senseless actions and go away. 

“I would appeal to anyone with any information to bring it to the PSNI.”

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