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Government should promote wearing of Easter Lily - Doherty

21 February, 2008


Speaking in the Seanad today Sinn Féin Senator Pearse Doherty called on the Government to promote the wearing of the Easter Lily "as a symbol of commemoration of all those who died in pursuit of Irish freedom".

Senator Doherty said, "In light of the Government's renewed commemorations of the 1916 Easter Rising I would like to call also promote the wearing of the Easter Lily as a symbol of commemoration of all those who died in pursuit of Irish freedom.

"The Easter Lily was designed in 1925 by Cumann na mBan. Its purpose was to raise money for the Republican Prisoners' Dependents Fund and to honour the sacrifice made by the men and women of the 1916 Rising. One year later, the Easter Lily Commemoration Committee was formed and existed until 1965. One of its founder members was Sighle Humphreys.

"The original lily was hand-made by republicans, who sold it at great risk throughout the country. Over the years many republicans have been arrested, attacked, jailed and reviled for keeping alive the memory of the men and women of the Easter Rising.

"The Lily is also an emblem of unity between the different traditions within the nation and the symbol of life breathed into the nation by the heroism of the Volunteers of Easter 1916. The symbol is associated with the Rising in Dublin, due to the seasonal decoration in churches during that period.

"The use of lilies at funerals symbolises the restored innocence of the soul at death. Today, republicans continue to honour the heroic sacrifice made in 1916, when the IRA, hopelessly outnumbered and ill-equipped, took on the might of the British Army and showed the world in the words of Pádraig Pearse that "Ireland unfree shall never be at peace".

"Republicans wear the lily today to honour all those who have given their lives in the cause of Irish freedom throughout each period of armed conflict. I am calling on the Government to promote the wearing of the Easter Lily." ENDS

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