Sinn Féin - On Your Side

Pearse Doherty address to today's annual Seán Sabhat Commemoration

6 January, 2008


In a few weeks time Sinn Féin will be launching our campaign against the Lisbon Treaty. And the government is right to be worried about the outcome of this referendum because the people of Ireland won’t be sold a pup and they won’t be cajoled into giving this government a dig out.
 
The simple fact is that the Lisbon Treaty is a bad deal for Ireland. It is bad for our economy, it is bad for our reputation internationally and it is bad for democracy. It gives the EU too much power."

Full text of speech

“This is the age old struggle of the Irish people versus British aggression. This is the same cause for which generations of our people have suffered and died. In this grave hour, all Irish men and women, at home and abroad, must sink their differences, political or religious, and rally behind the banner of national liberation.” With these words the Irish Republican Army
announced the start of its Resistance Campaign on 12 December 1956.
 
In the early hours of that morning using guerrilla tactics inspired by the IRA flying columns during the Black and Tan war dozens of targets were hit, including British air and radar installations, military posts, government buildings, roads, bridges and customs posts.
 
A few weeks later, on New Year¹s Day 1957 the North Fermanagh Resistance Column, also known as the Pearse Column, attacked the RUC barracks at Brookeborough, County Fermanagh. However they were not to be successful and Sean Sabhat and Ferghal O’Hanlon became the first republicans to lose their lives in the campaign.
 
When their remains were brought across the border from Enniskillen to Clones huge crowds turned out to pay their respects. Seán Sabhat¹s funeral passed through Dublin where thousands gathered to pay their respects and an estimated 50,000 attended in Limerick.
 
These two brave young men in their lives and in their tragic deaths epitomised the spirit of resistance to British rule in our country. They had that spirit of freedom in abundance. They united in a sincere and determined effort to assert in arms the right of the Irish people to national unity and freedom. We remember them with pride today.
 
Within three months of the start of the IRA’s Resistance campaign voters went to the polls in a General Election in the 26 Counties and much to the surprise of the political establishment four Sinn Féin TDs were elected. In Sligo-Leitrim John Joe McGirl topped the poll. Ruairi Ó Brádaigh was elected in Longford-Westmeath. In Monaghan Éineachán Ó hAnnluain, brother of Fergal was elected. Veteran republican John Joe Rice was elected in South Kerry.
And here in Limerick thousands of voters came out to support Pádraig Ó Maolchathaigh.
 
The political background and motivation of the campaign was clear to all. Across the political spectrum politicians had been denouncing Partition for three decades, but little had been done to end it.
 
And many in these same parties remain rhetorical republicans today. They are only catching up with the changes of the Good Friday Agreement and the huge opportunities that have opened up with the re-establishment of the Executive in the north and the All-Ireland Ministerial Council. This is the time for imagination and innovation. The potential of an all-Ireland economy is still in its infancy and if we look beyond artificial borders we can help
ensure that the economy continues to grow in the decade ahead. In a changing economic climate it does not make sense for one small island to try and sustain two competing systems, to have two sets of job creation agencies, to have different currencies. There is an opportunity for change and Sinn Féin will be working to ensure that the opportunity is grasped.
 
Let us reflect for a moment on the events of the past 12 months. As a republican leadership we set ourselves a number of goals to be met in negotiations both with the governments and the DUP. We stated clearly that we wanted to move the struggle for acceptable policing in the north to a new level - a level which would see republican engagement with the PSNI. We
stated that we wanted to see the all-Ireland political institutions set out in the Good Friday Agreement established. We stated that we wanted to join with Ian Paisley in heading up the Executive. We stated that we wanted to see progress made in seeing northern representation in the Oireachtas. These objectives were achieved. That is what struggle is about. We must always be setting ourselves objectives to achieve, objectives which taken collectively move our struggle forward and bring us closer to achieving our republican
objective of Irish unity and independence. Because that is what this is about.
 
In the coming year we need to continue with this process. The British government need to honour their public commitment to transfer powers on policing and justice away from London and into the hands of Irish politicians. That may present challenges for some, but let me be clear, this has been agreed and it must be delivered.
 
I believe that the process, which we now need to engage in, is no different to that at the beginning of the peace process when we published ‘Towards a lasting peace in Ireland’. Republicans of all shades need to work together to bring about unity and independence ­ we need to build support within the country, we need to engage with unionists and we need to seek support internationally. Irish unity is achievable but it will not happen by chance.
 
Lisbon Treaty
In a few weeks time Sinn Féin will be launching our campaign against the Lisbon Treaty. And the government is right to be worried about the outcome of this referendum because the people of Ireland won’t be sold a pup and they won’t be cajoled into giving this government a dig out.
 
The simple fact is that the Lisbon Treaty is a bad deal for Ireland. It is bad for our economy, it is bad for our reputation internationally and it is bad for democracy. It gives the EU too much power.
 
You only have to look at events over the last few years to see what happens when you give the EU too much power ­schools are forced to use scarce resources to pay water charges, the Shannon service is withdrawn as Aer Lingus is privatized, Irish troops join EU battlegroups. And most importantly the Irish government has little power to intervene to stop
decisions that are not in our national interest whether it is in relation to the sacking of Irish Ferries workers or the importation of Brazilian beef.
 
And if the Lisbon Treaty is allowed to go ahead problems like these will become more and more common. In all likelihood this will be the last referendum that we will have in relation to the European Union. It is important that there is a full and proper debate on the implications of this Treaty and squabbling between the Labour Party and the Green Party should not be confused with debate. The government has signed up to the Lisbon Treaty and that includes the Green Party ministers. And the Labour Party has long since reduced its role to one of unconditional support for the EU. Only time will tell what those who have supported these parties in the past will do on polling day but I would encourage them to join the campaign against the Treaty.
 
Ireland is changing but as a nation we still have much unfinished business. Diarmaid Ó Donnchadha giving the oration at the graveside of Seán Sabhat said: “He died for my freedom; for my sake, for your sake, for the sake of the generations that are to come ... let his life and his death be a lesson and a guide to all of us.”
 
Republicans have travelled a long road in the five decades since Seán and Feargal died. But our chosen destination is the same as theirs. 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 Sean Sabhat and all those who died in the cause of Irish freedom ­ a free, independent, united Ireland.
Ar aghaidh linn le chéile chun an Phoblacht. CRÍOCH

“This is the age old struggle of the Irish people versus British aggression. This is the same cause for which generations of our people have suffered and died. In this grave hour, all Irish men and women, at home and abroad, must sink their differences, political or religious, and rally behind the banner of national liberation.” With these words the Irish Republican Army
announced the start of its Resistance Campaign on 12 December 1956.
 
In the early hours of that morning using guerrilla tactics inspired by the IRA flying columns during the Black and Tan war dozens of targets were hit, including British air and radar installations, military posts, government buildings, roads, bridges and customs posts.
 
A few weeks later, on New Year¹s Day 1957 the North Fermanagh Resistance Column, also known as the Pearse Column, attacked the RUC barracks at Brookeborough, County Fermanagh. However they were not to be successful and Sean Sabhat and Ferghal O’Hanlon became the first republicans to lose their lives in the campaign.
 
When their remains were brought across the border from Enniskillen to Clones huge crowds turned out to pay their respects. Seán Sabhat¹s funeral passed through Dublin where thousands gathered to pay their respects and an estimated 50,000 attended in Limerick.
 
These two brave young men in their lives and in their tragic deaths epitomised the spirit of resistance to British rule in our country. They had that spirit of freedom in abundance. They united in a sincere and determined effort to assert in arms the right of the Irish people to national unity and freedom. We remember them with pride today.
 
Within three months of the start of the IRA’s Resistance campaign voters went to the polls in a General Election in the 26 Counties and much to the surprise of the political establishment four Sinn Féin TDs were elected. In Sligo-Leitrim John Joe McGirl topped the poll. Ruairi Ó Brádaigh was elected in Longford-Westmeath. In Monaghan Éineachán Ó hAnnluain, brother of Fergal was elected. Veteran republican John Joe Rice was elected in South Kerry.
And here in Limerick thousands of voters came out to support Pádraig Ó Maolchathaigh.
 
The political background and motivation of the campaign was clear to all. Across the political spectrum politicians had been denouncing Partition for three decades, but little had been done to end it.
 
And many in these same parties remain rhetorical republicans today. They are only catching up with the changes of the Good Friday Agreement and the huge opportunities that have opened up with the re-establishment of the Executive in the north and the All-Ireland Ministerial Council. This is the time for imagination and innovation. The potential of an all-Ireland economy is still in its infancy and if we look beyond artificial borders we can help
ensure that the economy continues to grow in the decade ahead. In a changing economic climate it does not make sense for one small island to try and sustain two competing systems, to have two sets of job creation agencies, to have different currencies. There is an opportunity for change and Sinn Féin will be working to ensure that the opportunity is grasped.
 
Let us reflect for a moment on the events of the past 12 months. As a republican leadership we set ourselves a number of goals to be met in negotiations both with the governments and the DUP. We stated clearly that we wanted to move the struggle for acceptable policing in the north to a new level - a level which would see republican engagement with the PSNI. We
stated that we wanted to see the all-Ireland political institutions set out in the Good Friday Agreement established. We stated that we wanted to join with Ian Paisley in heading up the Executive. We stated that we wanted to see progress made in seeing northern representation in the Oireachtas. These objectives were achieved. That is what struggle is about. We must always be setting ourselves objectives to achieve, objectives which taken collectively move our struggle forward and bring us closer to achieving our republican
objective of Irish unity and independence. Because that is what this is about.
 
In the coming year we need to continue with this process. The British government need to honour their public commitment to transfer powers on policing and justice away from London and into the hands of Irish politicians. That may present challenges for some, but let me be clear, this has been agreed and it must be delivered.
 
I believe that the process, which we now need to engage in, is no different to that at the beginning of the peace process when we published ‘Towards a lasting peace in Ireland’. Republicans of all shades need to work together to bring about unity and independence ­ we need to build support within the country, we need to engage with unionists and we need to seek support internationally. Irish unity is achievable but it will not happen by chance.
 
Lisbon Treaty
In a few weeks time Sinn Féin will be launching our campaign against the Lisbon Treaty. And the government is right to be worried about the outcome of this referendum because the people of Ireland won’t be sold a pup and they won’t be cajoled into giving this government a dig out.
 
The simple fact is that the Lisbon Treaty is a bad deal for Ireland. It is bad for our economy, it is bad for our reputation internationally and it is bad for democracy. It gives the EU too much power.
 
You only have to look at events over the last few years to see what happens when you give the EU too much power ­schools are forced to use scarce resources to pay water charges, the Shannon service is withdrawn as Aer Lingus is privatized, Irish troops join EU battlegroups. And most importantly the Irish government has little power to intervene to stop
decisions that are not in our national interest whether it is in relation to the sacking of Irish Ferries workers or the importation of Brazilian beef.
 
And if the Lisbon Treaty is allowed to go ahead problems like these will become more and more common. In all likelihood this will be the last referendum that we will have in relation to the European Union. It is important that there is a full and proper debate on the implications of this Treaty and squabbling between the Labour Party and the Green Party should not be confused with debate. The government has signed up to the Lisbon Treaty and that includes the Green Party ministers. And the Labour Party has long since reduced its role to one of unconditional support for the EU. Only time will tell what those who have supported these parties in the past will do on polling day but I would encourage them to join the campaign against the Treaty.
 
Ireland is changing but as a nation we still have much unfinished business. Diarmaid Ó Donnchadha giving the oration at the graveside of Seán Sabhat said: “He died for my freedom; for my sake, for your sake, for the sake of the generations that are to come ... let his life and his death be a lesson and a guide to all of us.”
 
Republicans have travelled a long road in the five decades since Seán and Feargal died. But our chosen destination is the same as theirs. 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 Sean Sabhat and all those who died in the cause of Irish freedom ­ a free, independent, united Ireland.
Ar aghaidh linn le chéile chun an Phoblacht. CRÍOCH

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