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Gerry Adams slams Government's lack of 1916 commemoration plan in US speech

9 November, 2014 - by Gerry Adams TD


Sinn Féin Leader Gerry Adams TD has again criticised the Government's lack of preparation for the 100th anniversary of the 1916 Rising.

Speaking in the United States, Mr Adams said:

"The Irish Government has yet to announce its plans to commemorate the 1916 Rising, because it has no plans.

"The Government won’t mark the Rising in an appropriate way because it is opposed to the social and economic intent of the 1916 Proclamation. It is against equality, solidarity and freedom.

The Sinn Féin Leader was addressing the Irish Echo Labour 50 Awards Dinner in New York where he was the Guest Speaker at the event which honours the contribution of Irish Americans to the US labour movement.

Mr Adams said that despite official neglect "the plain people of Ireland will celebrate and educate and pay tribute to the brave men and women of 1916".

He added:

"Be confident that Sinn Féin will continue to work to make the Proclamation a reality in a United free Ireland.

"Maybe if enough of our exiles come home we might even have another Rising!"


See below full text of Mr Adams address:

It is very fitting that we honour Labour leaders.

The Irish have played a pivotal role in winning workers’ rights here in the USA, and in working with others from every ethnic background in solidarity against punitive working conditions.

Many of the rights that lower and middle income families enjoy today were achieved in hard battles against anti-union employers and laws.

There is still a need to defend workers’ rights today, here, in the USA, globally and back home in Ireland.

Ireland is only one of three EU states, in which workers have no legislated right to workplace representation.

Workers have no right to collective bargaining.

So there is clearly a common cause between working people in Ireland and here in the USA, particularly in opposition to the politics of austerity.

There is a battle of ideas to be won and an alternative to be forged.

And the leaders of organised Labour in the trade unions have a role and a duty to be part of this.

These are difficult times. Sinn Féin understands that.

Working people, and I include workers from the unionist constituency, need to hear an alternative to the right-wing ideology which underpins many of our political and media institutions.

In less than 18 months we will take the opportunity to celebrate the 1916 Rising in Dublin and the proclamation of a new Republic.

As you know the signatories of that Proclamation, and others were executed by the British.

There is an American connection to that historic event. It was funded by Irish America, by the children of An Gorta Mór/ The Great Hunger. Most of the 1916 leaders visited the USA.

James Connolly lived here. He spent 7 years of his life in the US where he helped establish and organise the Independent Workers of the World.

He understood the importance of freedom from Britain and its linkage to the rights and freedoms and future prosperity of workers.

We are proud of James Connolly. We are proud of his defense of American Labour. We are also proud of the role James Connolly played in the fight for Irish freedom.

In 1914 Connolly wrote that the damage the partition of Ireland would bring, especially in respect of workers’rights, would be ‘disastrous’.

And there is a need to highlight Connolly’s connection with the Labour movement in the USA.

He said famously that ‘the cause of Ireland, is the cause of labour, and the cause of Labour, is the cause of Ireland’.

Also, Tom and Kathleen Clarke lived here. Kathleen Clarke was an activist in her own right.

It would be an important contribution to the 1916 centenary if the roles of the 1916 leaders in the Labour movement here was researched and publicised. And who better to do that, than yourselves - the present day Labour movement.

The 1916 Proclamation addresses itself to Irish men and Irish women.

While that would be seen nowadays as a very modest declaration, in those times when women didn’t have the vote, the Leaders set out their commitment to equality with the inclusion of those 2 words – ‘men and women’.

Women have been written out of that part of our history.

That is why I am so pleased to be making a presentation to Mary Elizabeth Bartholomew.

Women deserve their rightful place in the history of our struggle.

So all of these connections should be celebrated and highlighted. I would appeal to you to do that.

I also want to invite you to come to Ireland in 2016.

The Irish Government has yet to announce its plans to commemorate the 1916 Rising, because it has no plans.

The Government won’t mark the Rising in an appropriate way because it is opposed to the social and economic intent of the 1916 Proclamation.

It is against equality, solidarity and freedom.

But be confident that the plain people of Ireland will celebrate and educate and pay tribute to the brave men and women of 1916.

Be confident that Sinn Féin will continue to work to make the Proclamation a reality in a United free Ireland.

Maybe if enough of our exiles come home we might even have another Rising!

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