Sinn Féin - On Your Side

Kelly challenges Matt Baggott to get a grip of the PSNI

3 April, 2013 - by Gerry Kelly


Sinn Féin Assembly member Gerry Kelly today delivered the Easter Address in Dungiven in County Derry.

In the course of his remarks, Mr. Kelly challenged the Chief Constable Matt Baggott to get a grip on the small number of people driving a negative agenda within the PSNI. He said that ‘If they cannot cope with the new political realities or with the significant changes which have transformed policing in recent years, then that is their problem. It should not be made the problem of those in policing who are up for change or indeed, the entire community who will suffer, as they have in the past from bad policing.’

Mr. Kelly addressed directly the small number of people engaged in militarism. He said ‘They have an agenda of a return to a conflict that they seem to be more comfortable with-despite the fact that many of them took no part in that struggle.

I get angry when Republicanism's reputation is sullied by a plethora of small groups who have at best blurred the definition of revolutionary and criminal activity. Whether it’s in Dublin, Derry, Belfast or Tyrone ordinary people are finding it more difficult to detect any semblance of political struggle when it comes to these small groups, no matter what grand titles they choose for themselves.’

The full text of Mr. Kelly’s address is below:

Tá athas mór orm a bheith anseo inniu cupla briathar a ra ar na daoine a fuair bas ar son saoirse na hEireann nochto is a seacht bliain o shin.

Easter week 1916 did not just inspire generations of Irish Republicans. It showed many peoples throughout the world that they could rise up against the tyranny of colonial rule, imperialism and oppression-no matter how large the enemy or how few the rebels

Our comrades who gave their lives then and in generations since were about achieving a free independent and united Ireland based on a bedrock of equality.

I want to welcome all of you here today, especially the families of our fallen comrades who suffered so much personal loss and grief in our struggle. I want to pay tribute to the bravery, leadership and commitment of the IRA and the other revolutionary groups in the generation who took to the streets of our towns and the highways, byways and fields of our countryside.

If courage was the measure of success then Ireland would have had her freedom many generations before this.Volunteers in the IRA knew that military action on its own could not win the war.They and others knew they could not do it alone, that our opponents and enemies had to be faced up to in every sphere of life.

What can be said of those who paid the supreme sacrifice? They were ordinary people like any of us standing here. They had family and friends who they loved and who loved them. They came from North and South and what bonded them together was a profound love of Ireland and its people.

What made these ordinary men and women extraordinary, was that they had a vision and with that vision came a huge challenge. They rose to that challenge despite the fact that they might have to forfeit their own lives or liberty. They led from the front, prepared to sacrifice their all so that others could live in a free Ireland.

This phase of our struggle has gone through many stages. Irish Republicans are highly respected around the world-especially in conflict zones-because of our versatility and ability to strategize and adopt to changing circumstances while keeping focused on our primary objective of Uniting Ireland

Throughout the past 45 years of struggle against British rule, we have also had to face up to counter-strategies and resistance to freedom by those wedded to Partition and the failed politics of the past.

In policing for instance there is still a small cabal of ex RUC in the PSNI structures or who have returned through the back door as civilian workers. Instead of being part of the new beginning to policing they are attempting to move back to a ‘force within a force’ in the PSNI.

Recent examples are:

• The 'retire and rehire' scandal

• The interference in the Police Ombudsman's Office under the previous Ombudsman, by elements within the PSNI

• The rejection by the PSNI Chief Constable, of the Ombudsman's findings on the Mc Gurks Bar Bombing.

• The Special Branch handling practices and criminal activities of police agents and their handlers in North Belfast and elsewhere.

• The activities of SOCA fed by those same elements that have pursued respected Republican families as a matter of revenge or ‘payback’ relating to the conflict.

• Months of ‘flag protests’ being facilitated by the PSNI hierarchy showing an obvious differential in policing between nationalists and unionists

As republicans challenge that agenda from within the policing-accountability structures we can witness the predictable response from this cabal.

Matt Baggott needs to get a grip on the small number of people driving this negative agenda. If they cannot cope with the new political realities or with the significant changes which have transformed policing in recent years, then that is their problem. It should not be made the problem of those in policing who are up for change or indeed, the entire community who will suffer, as they have in the past, from bad policing.

We will not be deterred from the challenge of transforming the policingculture. We will not be deterred from the challenge of creating a fully accountable, non-partisan, civic policing service. We will not allow the progress we have made to be reversed.

Of course, that is not the only cabal trying to hinder and attack progress. There is another small minority in our community who are attempting to derail any progress in policing, in the peace process and the political process. They have an agenda of a return to a conflict that they seem to be more comfortable with-despite the fact that many of them took no part in that struggle.

I get angry when Republicanism's reputation is sullied by small groups who have at best blurred the definition of revolutionary and criminal activity. Whether it’s in Dublin, Derry, Belfast or Tyrone ordinary people are finding it more difficult to detect any semblance of political struggle when it comes to these small groups, no matter what grand titles they choose for themselves.

Let me say this loud and clear and proudly to this alphabet of organizations-There is only one IRA one Irish Republican Army. Ceann amhain! Óglaigh na hÉireann!

These other wannabe groups trying to claim that title have no strategy to speak of; otherwise they would be presenting it to the world. Whether they call themselves The New IRA, The Old IRA, the Belfast Continuity IRA, the Limerick Continuity IRA, RAAD, CAAD or SAD -a name or title does not give them legitimacy.

Extorting money from drugs dealers is no better than drug dealing itself because it allows them to continue – of course at a price.

Robberies for personal gain are not revolutionary acts. So called ‘punishment beatings’ of young people in our community does not resolves any problems especially when some of these actions are driven by personal fall outs.

To date the biggest percentage of any killings carried out by these dissidents have been in internal feuds. This is not a struggle for Irish Freedom!

Groups with no popular support, no public face and no strategy for the achievement of republican objectives are now merely killing people for the sake of killing.

In the history of Irish Republicanism, choosing armed struggle was always a decision of last resort and it was never acceptable for personal gain.

While being very critical of these organizations let me also say that I certainly do not tar every individual with the same brush. I know that there are genuine people, especially young people who are frustrated with the slow pace of change. Who see that there are still injustices to be rectified. Who may feel that there is no other way to change things.

Let’s remember that the Good Friday Agreement was not the resolution of our long struggle for Irish freedom. It was however an agreement to set up structures for a peaceful and political way to achieve our goal of a United Ireland.

As we remember our fallen comrades today it is the right time I believe to criticize those who would falsely or mistakenly claim their mantle but let me also appeal to them to take up the offer of dialogue made many times by Republican leaders. Unity is strength and the stronger Republicans are throughout Ireland the closer we get to our goal.

Another group which appears to be anti-peace and reconciliation will be marching past St Patricks Catholic Chapel and Carrick Hill tomorrow- yet again.They will also march through the Republican areas of Ardoyne, Mountainview and the Dales in North Belfast.

The Loyal Orders have not stepped up to the mark in trying to move past conflict and into a new phase of reconciliation. Unfortunately their intransigence is not just tolerated but is encouraged by Unionist politicians.

Respect is not a huge demand in 2013.Respect isn’t even a concession.Unionist politicians over the last number of months have not shown themselves ready to lead from the front.A small start would be Unionist politicians themselves showing a little respect. I appeal to the various loyal orders to get into meaningful dialogue with residents. All resolutions start with meaningful dialogue. Those who refuse dialogue are showing that they are against resolution.

And let’s remember what this is all about. Fundamentally this is about equality. Equality is a threat to no one. Civic, Representative Impartial Policing is a threat to no one and Power Sharing Institutions are a threat to no one.

The united Ireland Sinn Féin seeks to build is inclusive, pluralist and where all cultures are comfortable, secure and can find the fullest expression of their identity. That includes Irishness, Britishness as well as other cultures. We must deal with the reality that we are fast becoming an Inter-cultural society.

Irish unity makes political, economic and social sense. We believe that a new, agreed united Ireland is best achieved through a genuine process of national reconciliation. But, let’s be clear-there is no miracle in a United Ireland. We have to prepare for the type of Ireland that we want, the type of Ireland as described in the 1916 Proclamation.

In the Good Friday negotiations Sinn Féin secured the removal of the Government of Ireland Act, under which the British government claimed sovereignty over the North. There is now only a qualified, conditional claim that will change when a majority of citizens vote for an end to the union.

The Good Friday Agreement provides for a poll on Irish unity. To secure this means building support so that the Irish and British governments are moved to fulfill their obligations to hold one.

All those who wish to see a united, independent Ireland need to mobilize and campaign to persuade the people of Ireland to support unity and the creation of a New Republic.

Partition created two conservative states on this island. Both were the antithesis of the republican vision of Tone, and of the 1916 leaders. Their vision, Sinn Féin’s vision, of a genuine republic governed in the interests of its citizens, is shared by a growing number of Irish people.

Today, people across this island are suffering. Hundreds of thousands are unemployed, struggling to survive and young people are flooding out of the country to Australia, Canada and elsewhere. Indeed it is reminiscent of the Ireland of the 1950s and 60s.

This is the result of the policies of both Fianna Fáil and their successors in Fine Gael and Labour, implementing failed austerity policies written for them by their political masters in the EU and IMF.

But across Ireland, North and South, Sinn Féin is leading the political fight-back against austerity and for a New Republic.

Sinn Féin is a party on the rise. In the North we are the undisputed voice of nationalism and are transforming a society moving out of conflict and into a new shared future. In the South we are providing the credible, radical opposition and alternative to the gombeenism, corruption and lack of vision of a political establishment which has failed the Irish people.

97 years ago the Easter Rising brought together republicans, nationalists, trade unionists and the women’s movement in the cause of Irish independence. Building alliances to increase political strength in our pursuit of a united Ireland is still a very relevant part of struggle today.

Republicanism on this island has never been so strong, so organized and so capable of achieving its objectives. This generation of republicans is laying the foundations for a New Republic — a 32-County Republic with social justice and equality at its core. But we still have not achieved the necessary political clout.

Sinn Féin is the only all-Ireland party and we have elected representatives throughout the country. But we need more. We need to build the party by opening it up to more and more people and especially to women and young people.

Let me return to our fallen comrades before finishing.

I don't know what they might have said if they were here today. I don’t try to speak for them-not even those personal friends that I lost. But what I do know is that they left a legacy behind them. Their courage and their sacrifice inspired others who took up their mantle and continued their struggle.

What I do know is that they fought their part of our long struggle with dedication and commitment using the tools available to them in 1916.As did our comrades in 1803, in 1798 and indeed in any of the many uprisings, large or small which has peppered Ireland’s history.

What I do know is that we, who continue that struggle and it is far from over, must use the tools available to us in 2013. We should not and cannot act as if it is 1916 or 1969 or 1980 or 1996 or even 2006. We cannot live in our past. We must learn from our past to secure and improve our future.

James Connolly one of the 1916 martyrs, speaking of Wolfe Tone the father of modern republicanism said:

“We who hold his principles believe that any movement which would successfully grapple with the problem of national freedom must draw its inspiration, not from the moulding records of the past, but from the glowing hopes of the living present, the vast possibilities of the mighty future”.

Ní Raibh Seamas Ó Conghaile ina phriosúnach don stair.A chomradaithí agus a chairde, inniú agus as seo amach tá muid ag deanamh ar stair féin agus ar dtodhchaí féin.

James Connolly was no prisoner of History.Comrades and friends, today and into the future we are shaping our own history and destiny.

This generation has the greatest opportunity since Partition to finally achieve genuine national self-determination. We do not underestimate the challenges ahead. Indeed as Republicans we embrace challenge, we embrace struggle and we embrace the responsibility that comes with activism.

Most of you will know from the news that Nelson Mandela (Madiba) is in hospital. He is a living legend and I know we all wish him well. I would like to dedicate a quote from this great freedom fighter to the young people here who are continuing our great struggle in another generation:

OUR DEEPEST FEAR…… is not that we are inadequate.Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure.It is our light not our darkness that frightens us most.You’re playing small doesn’t serve the world.There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won’t feel insecure around you.As we let our light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to DO THE SAME.As we are liberated from our own fear…OUR PRESENCE AUTOMATICALLY LIBERATES OTHERS.

In 1916 men and women from all walks of life came together to advance the struggle for a united independent Ireland.

We come here all these years later with a live political project and the commitment, determination and confidence to finish that historic task.

Ar aghaidh linn le chéile.

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