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Militarism contributes nothing to the achievement of republican objectives - Declan Kearney

3 April, 2013


Sinn Féin National Chairperson Declan Kearney delivered the Easter Speech in Monaghan.

In the course of his address Mr Kearney said that “Militarism contributes nothing to the achievement of republican objectives.

We need, through political discussions, to try to persuade them that continued armed actions will only set back the progress being made towards a united Ireland.

Those involved in these groups who may be motivated by patriotic aspirations should instead organise support for their views in exclusively peaceful ways.

We must act as nation builders in the tradition of Tone and Connolly.

An authentic reconciliation process is essential to advancing the unity of all our people.

The hurt and resentments caused on all sides because of the conflict have to be addressed, and healed if possible.

Engagement on reconciliation on a cross party and community basis is urgently required.

Our party has called for an inclusive national discussion on how to bring this about. There is no alternative to that dialogue.

And I would urge other voices from within unionism and across society to make themselves heard.”

Full text of Speech

The Easter Rising was a huge turning point in the history of Ireland.

It represented the beginning of the end for a centuries old colonial status quo.

The Proclamation of the Republic set out a new vision which re-imagined Irish society.

Even though the Rising’s prospects for success had been eclipsed by the time of its launch, the volunteers carried on, motivated by a conviction that they would set in motion events to bring about Irish freedom.

That is what happened.

From that point republicanism defined the history of 20th century Ireland.

That unstoppable momentum has got us to where we are today.

It has been a journey of great sacrifice for successive generations.

Monaghan has endured its share of that burden.

Throughout the struggle republicans from here have played a central role in the overall freedom struggle.

In two weeks the republican family will recognise Monaghan’s special position by conferring the Le Cheile award on Padraigin Ui Mhurchadadh, in honour of the contribution and sacrifices Padraigin’s family have made on your, and our behalf.

This August the National Hunger Strike commemoration will be hosted here.

That will be a poignant reminder of Monaghan and Cavan’s special links to the sacrifice of the twelve Hunger Strikers during this campaign, and especially Volunteer Kieran Doherty, TD.

Yet despite our hardship and heartache, the strategy pursued by these generations of activists to achieve a national republic is working.

Today more Irish citizens than ever support Sinn Féin and our strategy to secure national democracy and independence.

They do so because it makes sense.

Sinn Féin and our policies are relevant to their lives.

That is why Sinn Féin is a growing force in this state, and continues to build within communities in the six counties.

Sinn Féin offers a real political alternative to austerity, unemployment and emigration north and south.

Our strategy has brought about huge change. We pose the only coherent challenge to the forces of conservatism across Ireland.

The republican project is about pushing back the boundaries, and not accepting that things must stay the way they appear.

We are agents of change. For republican activists there are no limits to what can be achieved.

That ambition undermines the status quo and those who seek to prevent change.

Therefore, opposition to Sinn Fein’s vision and growth is ever present.

That opposition is a reaction against our determination to make even more change across the island.

Sections of the old regime in the north and some others want to stop the transformation that is happening all around them.

The recent arrests of Seán Hughes and Pádraic Wilson, and the street violence orchestrated by some within unionism against the decision taken by Belfast City Council are clear evidence of that.

Some still want to try to turn the clock back.

They are locked in a time warp.

But our direction of travel is set; forward not backwards, towards a new Ireland; an agreed Ireland; a united Ireland.

For decades, Irish republicans and nationalists had no alternative to the use of armed struggle against injustice.

It is a measure of the success of our strategy that today a united Ireland can and will be achieved by political and democratic methods.

The task we have is to persuade and convince all sections of opinion that a new, agreed Ireland offers the best future for all our people.

Now it is time for us to re-imagine the future of Irish society beyond the peace process.

Sinn Fein’s vision for the future is of a pluralist Ireland, which guarantees the rights of all citizens; an Ireland at peace with itself and rooted in equality.

Achieving that will require a new popular momentum arising from engagement, and persuasion and agreement across Irish society.

The launch of our Border Poll campaign is a contribution to a national conversation on future constitutional arrangements and economic and social models for the island.

Dialogue with other republicans and other national democratic opinion, is an essential part of that process of engagement.

Irish republicans share a broad ideological tradition. But not all republicans support Sinn Féin or support our strategy.

Some have stepped back from political activism, because of disenchantment or frustration with the pace of change; or for personal reasons.

We need to engage with other republicans, especially those who may have become disillusioned.

We should not be complacent about their feelings. We should listen to their genuine concerns and criticisms and be responsive.

Many have made valuable contributions in the past and we should encourage them to play a positive role again within republicanism.

During the conflict some actions occurred which created deep divisions within republicanism. There is a real imperative to try to overcome old enmities, which remain from that period.

Regardless of division and past differences, and how these were caused, we should actively promote ideological fraternity across republican and national democratic opinion.

British policy in Ireland variously fractured the national unity of the people of Ireland, or held it back by fostering sectarian division through conferred patronage and privilege on minorities.

There are two strategic priorities for all genuine republicans and democrats committed to the founding republican doctrine of uniting Catholic, Protestant and dissenter; developing reconciliation, and uniting our people in pursuit of an agreed united Ireland.

In today’s Ireland that must embrace, also, people of all religions and none.

This represents common ground to be explored and developed.

There is also an obvious need for all strands of republican and nationalist opinion to engage with those using militarism to oppose the peace process and republican strategy.

Militarism contributes nothing to the achievement of republican objectives.

We need, through political discussions, to try to persuade them that continued armed actions will only set back the progress being made towards a united Ireland.

Those involved in these groups who may be motivated by patriotic aspirations should instead organise support for their views in exclusively peaceful ways.

We must act as nation builders in the tradition of Tone and Connolly.

An authentic reconciliation process is essential to advancing the unity of all our people.

The hurt and resentments caused on all sides because of the conflict have to be addressed, and healed if possible.

Engagement on reconciliation on a cross party and community basis is urgently required.

Our party has called for an inclusive national discussion on how to bring this about. There is no alternative to that dialogue.

And I would urge other voices from within unionism and across society to make themselves heard.

Sectarianism, segregation and division must be eradicated from Irish society and be replaced with a greater cross community resolve.

We need to make common alliances with those in the unionist and loyalist community committed to that agenda.

There is common ground to be forged in working jointly to tackle the economic disadvantage and inequality in both nationalist and unionist areas and to encourage greater integration.

As nation builders we must always look to the future; be prepared to open our hearts and minds to new thinking, new initiatives and new compromises.

The unionist community contains diverse opinions, hopes and voices. We should listen to what is being said with open minds and with generosity.

All opinions and views are needed to create a discourse for reconciliation in our society.

The Irish peace process has been a journey of great change for us all. A new phase of the peace process is now needed.

That prospect offers the best opportunity for developing reconciliation on common ground principles between republicans and unionists, and Britain and Ireland.

It is the only way for new relationships to form and for trust to grow.

We as republicans need to actively persuade to bring that about.

We share a collective responsibility to ensure future generations grow up in a better Ireland than we did.

An Ireland, which guarantees equality and justice for every citizen, not just some citizens.

Ireland north and south faces great adversity but Sinn Féin stands determined to meet the challenges.

Republicans have every reason to look forward with confidence.

The direction of our strategy is certain, and it guarantees even more change.

Next year’s elections present us with new opportunities to do that by electing hundreds of Sinn Féin councillors and a team of MEPs.

Republican politics have never been more relevant to the present or the future.

Our party is regenerating. New members are joining Sinn Féin week on week.

Republicanism has never been stronger and we are poised to become even stronger.

We are the new history makers because we are of the people and the people are with us in increasing numbers.

Let us continue to popularise the vision of republicanism, give leadership in our communities, and move steadily onwards to a new agreed Ireland of equals.

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