Sinn Féin - On Your Side

Partition of Ireland locks out full potential of united island nation – Ó Caoláin

30 March, 2013 - by Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin TD


Speaking at the Easter Commemoration in Ashbourne today Sinn Féin TD Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin said the people of Ireland are locked out of the sovereign right to determine our own economy because of financial control by Westminster in the Six Counties and by the Troika in the 26 Counties.

Deputy Ó Caoláin also said the continuing partition of Ireland locks the people of Ireland out of our full potential in what ought to be a united island nation.

He said:

“Today we have a Great Lockout but in a different form.  

“Half a million people are locked out of the economy on this island because they are unemployed.  

“Every week we are losing thousands of our young people to emigration – they are locked out of the opportunity for employment and advancement in their own country.  

“The people of Ireland are locked out of the sovereign right to determine our own economy because of financial control by Westminster in the Six Counties and by the Troika in the 26 Counties.  

“And, of course, the continuing Partition of Ireland locks the people of Ireland out of our full potential in what ought to be a united island nation.  

“Faced with these challenges today the choice is the same as 1913 – resign or resist.  

“Do we as a people resign ourselves to our plight or do we resist and demand a better way?  

“Sinn Féin’s answer is unequivocal. Resist, resist, resist.”

Deputy Ó Caoláin’s full speech follows:

ComóradhnaCasca2013 –CillDeaglán, Co.na

1916 Easter Commemoration 2013,Ashbourne, Co. Meath

CaoimhghínÓCaoláinTD

Sinn Féin Health & Children spokesperson, TD for Cavan & Monaghan

A chairde agus a Phoblachtánaigh Chontae na Mí,  

Taimíd bailithe anseo ag Cill Dhéaghláin, suíomh ina raibh cath tábhachtach le linn Éirí Amach na Cásca faoi cheannaire Óglaigh na hÉireann sa cheantair seo - Tomás Aghas.

Is mór an onóir dúinn uile a bheith anseo chun omós a thabhairt do na daoine a fuair bás ar son saoirse na hÉireann i 1916 agus ó shin i leith.  

We are gathered at the memorial to the Battle of Ashbourne, one of the key military engagements in the Easter Rising of 1916.  

We remember the bravery of the Volunteers of the Irish Republican Army, Cathlán a Cúig, Briogáid Átha Cliath, the Fingal Battalion of the Dublin Brigade.  

Under the leadership of Thomas Ashe the Fingal Battallion, consisting of about 60 Volunteers, disrupted enemy communications across North County Dublin and captured Swords, Donabate, Baldwinstown and Garristown RIC Barracks, with their supplies of arms and ammunition. By the Thursday of Easter Week the Republican forces virtually controlled the whole Fingal area.  

On Friday they moved against Ashbourne RIC barracks. After a short gun battle the RIC surrendered but as Thomas Ashe was about to take over the barracks they were surprised by the approach of a large force of RIC from Navan. The Volunteers were deployed and a five-hour battle commenced.  

Despite being confronted by a numerically superior force, the Volunteers prevailed, inflicting heavy casualties on the enemy, including a County Inspector of the RIC.  

Volunteers Tommy Rafferty and John Crennigan died in the battle and, with Thomas Ashe, we remember them especially here at this memorial.  

Thomas Ashe’s command was undoubtedly the most successful of the 1916 Rising.  

After the surrender Ashe was court-martialled and sentenced to death. The death sentence was commuted to penal servitude for life and he was jailed in England. Released under the amnesty of June 1917, Ashe returned to his native County Kerry to a tumultuous welcome. He was arrested again in August, tried and jailed in Mountjoy where he embarked on hunger strike for political status on 20 September.

He was brutally force fed and, after only five days fasting, Thomas Ashe died from the effects of force feeding on 25 September 1917.  

It is doubly appropriate that we remember Thomas Ashe here at Easter as we celebrate this year the Centenary of the Great Lockout. Not only was he a leader in 1916, he was also a friend and supporter of the locked out workers in Dublin in 1913.  

The Lockout Centenary opens a decade of centenaries of key events in the struggle for Irish freedom, culminating of course in the 1916 centenary in just three years’ time. Already we in Sinn Féin have been to the fore in marking the Lockout with a successful conference for trade unionists in Liberty Hall in March and with other events planned later this year.  

As with all our commemorative events they are not just about remembering the past. They are about applying the principles of the thinkers and the activists of the past to the struggle of our own time.  

In 1913 the choice confronting working people in Dublin was stark – resign from your union on the orders of your bosses or resist.  

Thousands chose resistance and thus commenced a gruelling struggle from August 1913 to January 1914 when the bosses used the weapons of police violence and starvation to try to defeat the workers. In that bleak winter they did indeed seem defeated but out of the struggle Irish trade unionism arose phoenix-like. In that year also the Irish Volunteers and the Irish Citizen Army were founded and the count-down to the 1916 Rising began.  

Today we have a Great Lockout but in a different form.  

Half a million people are locked out of the economy on this island because they are unemployed.  

Every week we are losing thousands of our young people to emigration – they are locked out of the opportunity for employment and advancement in their own country.  

The people of Ireland are locked out of the sovereign right to determine our own economy because of financial control by Westminster in the Six Counties and by the Troika in the 26 Counties.  

And, of course, the continuing Partition of Ireland locks the people of Ireland out of our full potential in what ought to be a united island nation.  

Faced with these challenges today the choice is the same as 1913 – resign or resist.  

Do we as a people resign ourselves to our plight or do we resist and demand a better way?  

Sinn Féin’s answer is unequivocal. Resist, resist, resist!  

We demand a better, fairer way to address the economic crisis. We are presenting real alternative strategies based on protecting the vulnerable, refusing to attack the livelihoods of low to middle income earners and ensuring that the privileged and the elite in this country pay their fair share.  

To us the Proclamation of the Irish Republic of Easter 1916, which you have heard read here today, is not just a poster on the wall. We live by its principles and we work for the sovereign control of Irish destinies by the Irish people. We stand for the right of the people of Ireland to the ownership of Ireland. And we believe passionately in cherishing all the children of the nation equally.  

Across Ireland and overseas where Irish exiles gather this weekend, we are commemorating 1916 and honouring the patriot dead of every generation, without distinction.  

Today we follow in their footsteps, working by different means suited to our own times and circumstances, but working for the same goal.  

The republicans gathered here today have just finished a gruelling, intense three-week by-election campaign in Meath East.  

I want to commend all involved for their mighty work, activists based in County Meath and those from neighbouring counties and further afield who rallied to the call.  

I want above all and most especially to commend our excellent Sinn Féin candidate in Meath East, Darren O’Rourke.  

Darren and the Sinn Féin team achieved a major increase in the Sinn Féin vote in this constituency. I was very proud to have Darren as a candidate representing our party. He did himself great credit throughout the campaign and he did Sinn Féin and the republican message great credit also.  

I have no doubt that on the basis of this by-election Sinn Féin in this constituency will build and grow in the months ahead and that Darren O’Rourke will go on to provide excellent local and national leadership.  

Easter is a time for comrades to meet and to reflect on what has passed, on the work in hand and on the challenges and opportunities before us in the year ahead. In doing so let us go forward in that spirit of comradeship that was reflected in the words of James Connolly to the soldiers of the Republic in Easter Week:  

“Never had man or woman a grander Cause. Never was a Cause more grandly served.”  

An Phoblacht abu! 

Connect with Sinn Féin