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Sinn Féin MP for Mid-Ulster Martin McGuinness today addressed the Easter commemoration the Loup in County Derry.

24 April, 2011 - by Westminster


Sinn Féin MP for Mid-Ulster Martin McGuinness today addressed the Easter commemoration the Loup in County Derry.

Below is the full text of Mr McGuinness speech.

Easter week 1916 was one of the greatest historical events of the last century.  It started the bush fire of decolonisation, which was to engulf what, was the then British Empire.  It inspired generations of Irish Republicans and peoples throughout the world who rose up against the tyranny of colonial rule, imperialism and oppression.  It is a fire still burning in the heart of every Irish republican. 

This is also the 30th Anniversary of the Hunger Strike of 1981. Our comrades who gave their lives and those of us who survived to take up their mantle were and are about bringing about achieving a free independent and united Ireland based on equality for all those living on this island.

Let there be no doubt about it. We are for the removal of partition, the end of British jurisdiction in Ireland and the reunification of our nation and, in the words of Pádraic Pearse, the people are the nation.

It is fitting, therefore, poignant that we stand at the graveside of Seán Larkin of County Derry. He was one of the first victims of partition rule in our country, one of the 77 republican prisoners of war executed by the Free State government during the Civil War, one of over 100 who were killed in prisons and on roadsides after capture by Free State forces.

Consider the plight of Seán Larkin. A native of County Derry, he saw his country divided by the British government. He saw the province of Ulster cut in pieces and Derry divided from Donegal. But worse than this, he saw a Treaty signed by Irish representatives in London which agreed to the partition of Ireland and then established a Government in Dublin which made war on republicans at Britain’s behest.

Seán rejected the Treaty and stood by the Irish Republic. He came to Donegal and found a welcome among the republicans of that County before his capture and execution at Drumboe on 14 March 1923. Executed with him on that day were his comrades of County Kerry – Charlie Daly, Daniel Enright and Timothy O’Sullivan. Republican soldiers in Kerry, they came North to stand with the people of the Six Counties during the reign of terror imposed on them as the Orange regime, hand in glove with the British government, established the Northern state, the Orange State. How tragic it was that these IRA Volunteers from Derry and Kerry who symbolised the unity of Ireland should die at the hands of an Irish Government.

Today is not a day for high politics. Today is a day when we have the opportunity to pay tribute to our fallen comrades and extend ongoing solidarity to their families and friends.

We remember with pride the fallen County Derry IRA Volunteers of the present phase of the struggle for freedom and we extend our continuing sympathy and solidarity to the families of Volunteers Martin Lee, John Bateson, James Sheridan, Francis Hughes, Thomas McElwee, Danny McMullen, Antoine Mac Giolla Bhrighde, Francis Bradley and James Kelly.

We remember all republicans who have died and who gave service in the current phase of the Irish people’s long struggle for national self-determination. And we remember all who have died in the tragic conflict in our country and sympathise with all who were bereaved.

The IRA fought a long guerrilla war in these hills and in towns and cities and villages across the north for over 30 years. The IRA forced the British government to the negotiating table. But the IRA were not war mongerers. They were a revolutionary force who when an opportunity to advance the struggle for Irish unity through peaceful means was established it removed itself from the political equation.

The IRA by its nature was of the people and for the people. It could not have survived and fought the British state the way it did if it was small and unrepresentative. People should be under no illusion, the small factions currently engaging in armed actions are not the IRA and they are not advancing national and democratic objectives by their activities.

Irish people are united in support of the Good Friday, St. Andrews and Hillsborough agreements, attempting to overturn the will of the Irish people is not only futile it is stupid and selfish. Ireland can now only be reunited by the further development and outworking of the power sharing and all-Ireland institutions which were endorsed by the Irish people in the referendum in 1998. No act of violence will advance the cause of reunification by one millimetre. It is patently not possible to advance towards Irish reunification by any means other than peaceful and democratic processes. Those who believe that Ireland can be reunited without the support of the Irish people are living in a fool’s paradise.

The recent election results in the 26 counties show an all-Ireland and united Ireland political strategy in action. Sinn Féin have made the breakthrough in the South. It didn’t happen by accident. It happened because republicans faced harsh realities, rebuilt after previous disappointments and pressed ahead with the struggle. We did not become deflected by the media spin, we did not allow our opponents in the media and elsewhere who sought to undermine our electoral project in the south at every turn to gain the upper hand. Our people stuck to their task, done the hard work and got the result, and I pay tribute to each and every person who stood for Sinn Féin, worked for Sinn Féin or voted for Sinn Féin in that election – you are all agents of change.

When our 14 TDs joined with our 26 MLAs and our MEP recently at Stormont, a powerful and irrefutable symbol of Leadership across Ireland and of a project advancing was clear for all to see. However on its own it is not enough. We need to build the party in every parish in Ireland. People need to come forward and join Sinn Fein – people who were involved in the past, those who help out at election time, ex POWs, republican families, young people – we need everyone involved. As we drive forward towards the Republic people need to continue to make a stand.

In the north we have led in government.  Four years ago we offered the people a choice. We asked the electorate to vote for real change, to vote for positive leadership. We promised to promote equality, to deliver stable and inclusive power-sharing government in the north, to bring about the transfer of policing and justice powers, and to advance towards Irish unity and national reconciliation. We delivered.

On May 5th, the anniversary of the death of IRA Vol. Bobby Sands, citizens in the six counties will go to the polls in the Assembly election. We want to build on the momentum of our success in the 26 counties. That means an all-Ireland effort. It means activists from every county in Ireland playing their own part in this campaign. It means continuing the process of change. The future lies in Irish unity and national equality.

I am asking the electorate to speak loudly on May 5th, to come out in large numbers and in doing do take this opportunity to make it clear that the Irish people have a vision for a better future.

Sinn Féin has become the largest political party in the North.  We became the 3rd largest party in Ireland.  We are the only all-Ireland party.  Republicans have the capability of achieving a united Ireland and we are constantly building the capacity to achieve that goal.

We will only do that by leading with courage and imagination, by taking initiatives and above all by hard work.  More and more people in Ireland North and South are joining us and looking to us for leadership.  It has been the Republican ability to face each new situation, each new obstacle to overcome, in an open and imaginative way which has proven the versatility and ability of the Republican activist.  There is no lack of work in this struggle and make no mistake the work that republicans put into this struggle is the envy of political struggles the world over.

Sinn Féin believes in people.  Sinn Fein believes in empowering people, in working in partnership with local communities to tackle problems and map out new policies.

Sinn Féin is a republican party.  We are the only All-Ireland party.  Our goal is to see a United Ireland, which delivers real social and economic change.  We are the only party with a strategy and policies for achieving Irish unity and independence.  An All Ireland democracy.  An Ireland of equals

We will never again accept the status of second-class citizens.  Neither will we ever impose second-class citizenship upon anyone else.  

However, in this process we also have to remember that for many unionists the change we have embarked upon is a terrifying prospect.  Change is always difficult.  When taken in the context of a conflict resolution process, change can be traumatic.  And this can be made even more difficult when there are those, both within sections of unionism and within the British political and military establishment who still want to hold on to the old ways.  

Our goal as Irish republicans is an Irish unity that is inclusive, that unionists will feel welcome in, that they are a part of.

There is much work to do.  But we believe that we are in the countdown to a united Ireland.  We believe that together we can make further progress and truly transform society on this island forever.

We are all on the journey.  It is always easier to begin a journey.  The hard thing is to end it.

Sinn Féin is in this process to the end.  We want the British government and the Irish government and the unionists to work with us and to finish the work we have all started.  The length of the journey can be shortened and the ups and downs on the road can be smoothed out if we go at it collectively.  If we do it together.

All of you here today are part of the fastest growing party in Ireland.  Whether it is here in South Derry, or in Derry or Upper Bann, or North Antrim or Wexford, or Dublin or Belfast, or South Armagh, or Cork it is clear that Sinn Féin is winning more and more hearts and minds right across the island.  Everyday there are more and more Irish republicans.  We are building our political strength. 

 Republicans are not chained by history. We learn from it and use it.

We face difficult challenges ahead but also with great opportunities.  We stand on the threshold of great change.  Previous generations have struggled for a united Ireland.  It is, however, our generation who will achieve that goal.  So go out and do what we do best.

Bígí cinnte go dtiocfaidh ar lá

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