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Pearse Doherty TD Easter 2012 address - Derry

8 April, 2012 - by Pearse Doherty TD


I am honored to have been invited to The Loup to speak at what is the most important republican event of the year.

It is fitting that I do so as we stand at the graveside of Seán Larkin one of the Drumboe Martyrs, who found a welcome among the republicans of my own native County Donegal before his capture and execution at Drumboe on 14 March 1923.

Sean 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.

He rejected the Treaty and stood by the Irish Republic.

On Easter week 96 years ago, republicans, nationalists, socialists, suffragettes, Irish language activists, trade unionists, and Irish citizens from across the country came together with a single objective in mind.

To assert the right of the Irish people to govern our own country, free from British rule, in an equal and democratic society.

The 1916 proclamation, read from the front of the GPO in Dublin, outline the kind of revolution that the rebels were trying to start.

It was to be a democratic revolution, acknowledging the sovereignty of every man and woman to determine the course of Irish history.

It was to be an egalitarian revolution, declaring the right of all the people to the common ownership of the wealth of the nation.

Crucially, the proclamation declared:

 The Republic guarantees religious and civil liberty, equal rights and equal opportunities to all its citizens, and declares its resolve to pursue the happiness and prosperity of the whole nation and of all its parts, cherishing all the children of the nation equally

96 years ago, and in every generation since, Irish men and women have struggled, fought and died in an attempt to secure the kind of republic promised in the 1916 Proclamation.

And so today, here in The Loup, across the 32 county’s, and indeed across the world, Irish republicans remember the men and women of 1916; celebrate the ideals for which they fought and died; and commemorate every subsequent generation of Irish republicans who gave the ultimate sacrifice so that we, the Irish people, could be free.

We all owe a great depth of gratitude to these men and women who paid the ultimate sacrifice in the pursuit of republican objectives. They stood up for justice, equality and freedom.  Their vision, their determination, and their courage are to be commended and drive us onwards. 

The Loup

I am always mindful when speaking at the graveside of our martyrs of the human suffering and sacrifice of republican volunteers and their families.

I want to in particular welcome the families of our brave patriots from this county that join us here today and extend our continuing sympathy and solidarity to all the families of our fallen comrades.

Today is a day of remembrance. We remember the men and women who fought and died for our country.

We remember their families- parents, partners, children and friends - who also suffered and continue to mourn the loss of their loved ones.

We pay tribute to them all for their contribution to the republican struggle. And importantly we draw inspiration from that contribution. They are the benchmark against which we must judge ourselves as republican activists.

Their contribution must compel us to increase our efforts to achieve what they so valiantly died for.

This year marks the 40th anniversary of the deaths of IRA volunteers Phelim Grant and Charles McCann, the 30th anniversary of Volunteer Danny Mc Mullen, the 25th anniversary of the death of Volunteers Peter Rodden and Liam Casey and the 20 anniversary of the death of Malachy Carey.  

These volunteers and the many others that are on our roll of honor and roll of remembrance were like so many young men and women from the nationalist heartlands. They were motivated to join the IRA by a mixture of anger at the repression of the Unionist and British Governments and a desire to defend their communities from attack by the B Specials and Loyalist gangs.

But they were also motivated by the political ideals of 1916 – the idea that the freedom of their families and communities would be best served in an independent and united Irish Republic. Free from British interference and from Unionist discrimination and misrule.

 In any other time these men and women named on the local roll of honor and roll of remembrance would have lived ordinary lives, growing up to have families of their own, rear children and grandchildren, contribute to the life of their community, their local GAA club or their local Credit Union.

But they lived in far from ordinary times. And young, brave and committed men and women from this county and others took the extraordinary step of putting the well being of their community and their country before their own and in doing so paid a very heave price.

We must celebrate the contribution made by the volunteers of the IRA to the struggle and draw inspiration from that contribution.

The progress of recent years has meant that the struggle for Irish freedom has entered a new phase where peaceful means provide the way forward. The sacrifices of our comrades in the past, those who suffered death or injury or imprisonment, have ensured that there can never be a return to a one-party Orange state, to second-class citizenship, to British militarization and institutionalised sectarianism. But there is still a significant way to go before the achievement of republican goals.

2012

There has never been a better time to be an Irish republican. Across the country, the republican message is growing stronger week by week and month by month.

As a result our objective of a united and equal Ireland is becoming more popular than ever before.

Our campaign to promote our vision of a united Ireland gathers pace all the time. At the centre of this campaign is dialogue – between those of us who want a United Ireland; with those who are as yet ambivalent about a United Ireland; and crucially with those that are today hostile to what they understand to be a United Ireland.

This dialogue is crucial to generating mass public support for an end to partition and the social, economic and political reunification of our country.

In the 6 Counties, the project of unionist outreach is central to this objective. Our vision of a United Ireland is a threat to no one. It is inclusive, embracing and reconciling.

In the 26 Counties, we must reawaken the broad based public support for the Republic that was so evident from 1918 onwards. This means connecting the project of reunification with the day to day realities, needs and aspirations of ordinary people.

Sinn Féin is also mindful that there are republicans across the island who are not members of Sinn Féin. Some are in other organisations, many are in no organisation at all. We invite you to work with us, in whatever way possible, to build together the political strength and popular support needed to realise the Republic.

Sinn Féin is the only political party with a presence in every county and parish in the country. We have a clear and coherent strategy for achieving Irish Unity. It is a strategy based on promoting and popularising an inclusive idea of the Republic, based on the ideals that motivated the men and women of 1916.

There are many difficulties and challenges facing us but there are also many, many opportunities.

Republicans need to have the confidence to rise to these challenges and to seize the opportunities to advance our cause.

We want a society and an economy run democratically in the interests of all our citizens.

A new, agreed Ireland based on the rights of citizens is needed. This is best achieved by unity through a real process of national reconciliation.

National reconciliation

The united Ireland we seek to build is inclusive and where all the elements of the Irish nation are comfortable, secure and can find the fullest expression of their identity.

Republicans have a vision of a society beyond conflict resolution. We are engaged in the business of nation building. So, we need to be prepared to take the lead in shaping a real national reconciliation process. We need to be courageous. We need increased understanding and mutual respect. We need to reach out, to heal differences and create trust with unionists.

Real reconciliation also means dealing with the legacy of conflict. That will challenge everyone — republicans, unionists and Governments in London and Dublin. But it is essential if we are to move from conflict resolution to a New Republic.

Economic challenge

We gather here today at a time of great challenge for Ireland.

Hundreds of thousands of our people are unemployed. Hundreds of thousands of others are struggling to survive. Highly educated, intelligent young people are flooding out of the country in scenes reminiscent of the 1950s and 1980s.

In the North, the British Conservative party policy threatens to destroy the economy through the imposition of a savage cut of €4 billion to public funding.

This is the same policy of austerity that the EU and IMF are imposing in the 26 Counties with the agreement of the Fine Gael/Labour Government.

The question for political leaders is what to do in such circumstances. It boils down to political choices. They can meekly accept the situation and punish ordinary citizens or they can stand with the people, resist austerity and lead a fight back.

Across Ireland Sinn Féin is leading the political fight back.

Sinn Féin alternative

Sinn Féin has spelled out our alternative in detailed, costed proposals. Our big focus is on job creation and stimulating the economy. Our approach is based on fair taxes, investing in jobs, debt restructuring and growing the all-Ireland economy. It is about protecting public services and those on low and middle incomes.

In the North Sinn Féin has led the political resistance to Tory cuts and has worked to offset their effects on the most vulnerable. As a result, the Executive has prioritised finding money to maintain frontline services, protect those on lowest incomes and communities which were subject to decades of economic discrimination. It also committed not to increase student fees or introduce water charges.

There is surely an irony that as Sinn Féin in the North fights to have fiscal powers transferred from London to Ireland, the Fine Gael/Labour Government is meekly surrendering to Brussels whatever remains of this state’s economic sovereignty.

2016

2016 will mark the 100th anniversary of the 1916 rising. In the coming four years there will be a renewed public interest in that key moment in our national history and its relevance for us today.

In this environment Irish republicans have an opportunity of immense proportions to advance our struggle. No matter what arena of struggle you are involved in – community work, trade unionism, language revival, party politics, campaigning – you have a vital role to play.

As you make your way home from this commemoration today ask yourself a simple question. What am I going to do to advance the republican struggle in the days, weeks and months ahead? What role can I play in bringing about the Republic which the men and women fought and died for?

A chairde. This generation of Irish republicans has made huge progress. The Orange state is gone. One-party rule at Stormont is gone. The RUC and the UDR and the RIR are gone. British militarisation is almost gone.

Good riddance to them all.

They failed to break republicans just as internment and shoot-to-kill and paid perjurers and death squads and prisons and censorship failed to break us. But republicans did not come through all this just to survive. We are moving on.

This Journey has only one end point, there is only one destination.

We will not be broken, we will not give in, we will not give up until we have delivered the republic.

 A unified, free Ireland that truly cherishes all of the children of the nation equally.

It is then and only then that we will have constructed the only fitting monument to our patriot dead.

It is not an easy task but it is an achievable task.

The republic is our destination – join Sinn Féin on that Journey 

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