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Adams addresses Lost Leaders commemoration in Arbour Hill

25 March, 2016 - by Gerry Adams TD


Sinn Féin President Gerry Adams TD today addressed the Lost Leaders commemoration in Arbour Hill as part of Sinn Féin’s centenary Easter commemorations.

During his speech, Deputy Adams said:

“Building a real republic on this island remains in the interests of citizens today. This state is not the Republic proclaimed in 1916 and current efforts to pretend that it is are an insult to the men who lie here.

“A genuine republic would not allow homelessness to reach emergency proportions, would not tolerate the scandal and indignities in our hospital A&E wards and would not facilitate the huge levels of disadvantage and inequality which exist in this society.

“Those who oppose political progress and the ideals of the Proclamation remain influential within the political and media establishment.

“Some are on a new crusade to revive Redmondism and to denigrate the Leaders buried here in Arbour Hill.

“The time has come to confront this insidious and dishonest campaign.

“Many aspects of the Good Friday and subsequent Agreements remain to be implemented.

“There is an urgent need for the Irish Government to face up to the British Government’s refusal to fulfil its obligations.

“It is no accident that Irish America and its representatives have often been more informed, involved and progressive than successive governments here. I thank our American friends for that.

“As we stand here today by the graves of our Lost Leaders, let us be clear - a united Ireland and a real republic is the only fitting monument to their memory.” 

Full Text of Gerry Adams Speech follows:

Lost Leaders Commemoration,

Arbour Hill Cemetery,

Good Friday March 25th 2016

Address by Úachtarán Shinn Féin, Gerry Adams TD:

A chairde agus a chomráidithe,

One hundred years ago, On Easter Monday 1916, in the centre of Dublin, a small band of revolutionaries proclaimed an independent Irish republic.

 

This fearless group of a few hundred, poorly equipped Irish men and women took on the might of the largest empire the world had ever seen.

 

Following six days of heroic resistance, the centre of Dublin lay in ruins. The leaders of the Provisional Government met for the last time in 16 Moore Street and ordered a surrender.

 

They were court martialled and fifteen were executed over the following two weeks. Roger Casement was later hanged in London.

 

Today we have retraced the final journey of 14 of those leaders.

 

Following their execution in the stone breakers yard at Kilmainham Jail, Thomas Clarke, Thomas MacDonagh, Pádraig Pearse, Edward Daly, Michael O’Hanrahan, William Pearse, Joseph Plunkett, John MacBride, Con Colbert, Éamonn Ceannt, Seán Heuston, Michael Mallin, James Connolly and Seán Mac Diarmada were brought here to Arbour Hill.

The executions of these men provoked widespread outrage in Ireland and huge sympathy for their cause.
 
At his court martial Pádraig Pearse accurately prophesied:

"If you strike us down now, we shall rise again to renew the fight. You cannot conquer Ireland. You cannot extinguish the Irish passion for freedom."
 
Central to the 1916 Rising was the declaration of an independent Irish republic.

Not just any republic, but a republic that was uniquely democratic and egalitarian.

But Civil War and counter-revolution saw the partition of Ireland and the creation of two conservative states in place of the 32 County Republic which was the aim of the Rising.

The North became a one-party, Orange State where Irish nationalists were excluded from power and denied opportunity.

As we all know, that power and privilege was ultimately protected by British guns.

Republican resistance was offered at various stages over the decades.

In the late 1960s, the violent state response to the democratic demands of the nationalist population developed into full scale armed conflict.

And today we also pay tribute to all of those who, in every decade since 1916, stood by Ireland and stood by the Republic.

Our country and our people suffered hugely as a result of conflict in the 1970s, '80s and '90s.

Huge progress has been made in recent years. The Peace Process and the Good Friday Agreement marked a historic shift in politics on this island.

For the first time, the roots of conflict were addressed and a democratic route to Irish unity opened up.

There can be no going back.

Those tiny minorities who want to cling to the past must be rejected.

The scourge of sectarianism must be tackled and ended.

The effects of Partition and counter revolution on the South have been less spoken about. It is time to address this.

In the Civil War, the forces of conservatism - the Church hierarchy, the media and big business - all supported the Free State regime and opposed those who held out for the Republic proclaimed in Easter Week 1916.

The South developed into a narrow-minded, mean spirited state which was harsh on the poor, on women and on republicans or radicals of any kind.

Many of the scandals that we have witnessed in this state in recent years are a product of the post-colonial condition.

This was the reality that unfolded in place of the Republic.

Building a real republic on this island remains in the interests of citizens today.

This state is not the Republic proclaimed in 1916 and current efforts to pretend that it is are an insult to the men who lie here.

A genuine republic would not allow homelessness to reach emergency proportions, would not tolerate the scandal and indignities in our hospital A&E wards and would not facilitate the huge levels of disadvantage and inequality which exist in this society.

Imagine an Ireland with a universal health service and affordable childcare.

An Ireland where a home is a right, not a dream.

Imagine an Ireland where your children can return to live, work and to raise your grandchildren.

An Ireland where everyone pays their fair share.

Imagine an Ireland, all 32 counties, that is the best place in the world to grow up in, to grow old in, to enjoy life in.

Such an Ireland is possible.

But the political system and media in this state remain deeply conservative and partitionist.

Those who oppose political progress and the ideals of the Proclamation remain influential within the political and media establishment.

Some are on a new crusade to revive Redmondism and to denigrate the Leaders buried here in Arbour Hill.

The time has come to confront this insidious and dishonest campaign.

Connolly described Redmondism as "a carefully staged pantomime to fool nationalist Ireland” and that, in return, Redmond’s party would “send forth more thousands of Irish men and boys to manure with their corpses the soil of a foreign country”.

Isn’t it strange then that those, so worried that honouring the 1916 leaders would retrospectively justify violence, say nothing about Redmond's role in sending tens of thousands of Irish to fight Germans, Austrians and Turks with whom Ireland had no quarrel?

Was John Redmond not a 'man of violence'? 

Ireland, as a submerged nation within the UK, was carried into the First World War without any say in the matter.

This is the 'democracy' which the new Redmondites claim would have led inevitably to Irish independence. Such ahistorical nonsense!

The Irish experience of the war up to 1916 was one of the factors that led to the Easter Rising. And after the Rising and the executions and repression that followed, many Irishmen who had fought in the British army rejected that army for good. Some of them joined the IRA.

The notion that Britain had fought “for the freedom of small nations” was exposed as hypocrisy when Britain refused to recognise the First Dáil Éireann.

I suspect that behind the latest Redmondite crusade is a fear, not of violence, but of the 1916 Proclamation which enshrines principles of equality and Irish sovereignty that still challenge the privileged in our society.

It is a metaphor of our times that in this centenary year of the 1916 Easter Rising the relatives of the 1916 leaders and their supporters should be forced to take this State to the High Court in order to save our national heritage at Moore Street, while the state was defended the interests of a property developer.

It is not a surprise therefore that the recent proposal for a 1916 Banner erected by the Dublin City council in Dublin's College Green, which doesn’t feature any of the 1916 leaders, came from the Taoiseach's Department.

The banner is in line with the Government's initial video released to promote the 1916 celebrations that did not include any reference to the men and women who fought in the Rising.

But the 1916 Proclamation remains the mission statement for Irish republicans today.
 
It is a freedom charter for all the people of this island which guarantees religious and civil liberty and promotes equal rights and opportunities for all citizens.
 
It addressed Irishmen and Irishwomen at a time when women did not have the vote.
 
The Proclamation is also a declaration of social and economic intent for a rights-based society in which the people are sovereign.

In this Centenary Year, the vast majority of Irish people at home and abroad, proudly celebrate the 1916 Rising and the Proclamation of a Republic.

And our centenary celebrations would be incomplete without due recognition being paid to the American connection.

The Rising was funded after all by Irish Americans - the children of An Gorta Mór/The Great Hunger.

Most of the 1916 leaders had visited the USA at one stage or another. Connolly spent seven years of his life in the USA and Tom Clarke also lived there. 
 
Today we proudly celebrate and highlight the connections between our two great nations and the role Irish America continues to play in the struggle for a united Ireland.

This centenary year is an historic opportunity to look realistically towards ending Partition and sectarianism and division.

An opportunity to see how we can make the United, independent Ireland envisaged in 1916 a reality.
 
These should be the goals of all progressive political forces on this island.

A united Ireland means the unity of the people of this island, including those who see themselves as British.

That is why Irish governments must pursue every avenue to promote all-Ireland co-operation and to build relationships between all our people.

This must include genuine efforts to outreach to the unionists on the basis of equality.

It means the undoing of any ingrained partitionist thinking by policy makers.

There was never a better time to plan and deliver on an all-Ireland basis.

Many aspects of the Good Friday and subsequent Agreements remain to be implemented.

There is an urgent need for the Irish Government to face up to the British Government’s refusal to fulfil its obligations.
 
There is also an ongoing need to enlist the support for this necessary endeavour of our friends internationally, including and especially in the USA.

It is no accident that Irish America and its representatives have often been more informed, involved and progressive than successive governments here. I thank our American friends for that.

As we stand here today by the graves of our Lost Leaders, let us be clear - a united Ireland and a real republic is the only fitting monument to their memory.

And let us be equally clear that the Irish republicans of 2016 are as determined to achieve those objectives as were those whom we honour in Arbour Hill today.

Ar aghaidh linn le chéile.

Go raibh maith agaibh go léir.

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