Republicans needs to look beyond the current crisis in the peace process
Sinn Féin Dáil leader Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin TD speaking at the Easter Commemoration in Clones this afternoon said "Republicans now need to look beyond the current crisis in the peace process. We believe that the process can and will be rebuilt and returned to the path of progress. Inevitably, that will mean more hard choices, including more hard decisions for the Irish and British governments and others, as well as for Sinn Féin and for the IRA."
Extracts of Deputy Ó Caoláin's address
"As we gather to commemorate the 89th anniversary of the 1916 Easter Rising and the Proclamation of the Republic we are joined by tens of thousands of people throughout Ireland and throughout the world in this act of remembrance and rededication. We are remembering the defining event in modern Irish history and our first thoughts are with all those who fell in the struggle to make the Republic a reality. Our commemoration is especially significant this year, marking as it does, Céad Bliain Sinn Féin.
The men and women we honour here gave their all for freedom. Their example demands political commitment, discipline and diligence from all who follow in their footsteps today.
Republicans expect the highest standards of conduct from all in our ranks. That has always been the case and we reject anyone who by their actions would bring the good name of the republican cause into disrepute. For that is what has happened in recent times. I regret to have to say it here and on this occasion but it must be said. The brutal murder of Robert McCartney has sullied the good name of republicanism. Those responsible should own up to their actions. Their continuing failure to do so compounds the outrage of all who proudly proclaim their republicanism this Easter time.
Look beyond the crisis
Republicans now need to look beyond the current crisis in the peace process. We believe that the process can and will be rebuilt and returned to the path of progress. Inevitably, that will mean more hard choices, including more hard decisions for the Irish and British governments and others, as well as for Sinn Féin and for the IRA.
We as republicans are prepared to face up to the difficult decisions we must make, as we have done at every key stage of the peace process. But we will accept no lectures from the likes of Minister Michael McDowell. This week in the Dáil I described him as a unionist and he replied that he was an Irish republican. Very well, Minister McDowell. As the President of the Progressive Democrats, if you are a republican, why don't you organize your party on an all-Ireland basis? Will you stand candidates here in the Six Counties in the forthcoming Westminster elections? Better still, will you stand yourself? Or is it the case that your republicanism, and your Ireland, stops at Dundalk. I think we all know the answer to that.
British Inquiries Bill designed to cover up decades of collusion
Neither will republicans accept lectures from the British government. In the current climate that Government has been breathing a sigh of relief as the eye has been taken off England as the primary cause of the conflict in our country. Where are the sanctions against the British government for its continuing efforts to thwart any real process of truth and justice for the victims of the policy of collusion - a central part of Britain's war in Ireland.
No-one who has seriously and honestly studied this conflict of the past 36 years doubts that there was systematic collusion between British forces and loyalist paramilitaries.
It is not ancient history. It is relevant right up to the present day. The British government has brought in a piece of legislation called the Inquiries Bill which is designed to prevent any realistic inquiry into the murder of Patrick Finucane or that of any other victim of collusion between its forces and loyalist death squads.
That legislation will give the power to a British minister to order an inquiry to be held behind closed doors. Judge Peter Cory, who recommended the Finucane inquiry, has severely criticised this legislation. He has gone as far as to advise his colleague judges in Canada not to participate in any inquiry under such legislation. And of course British ministers and the British military will still have the controlling hand when it comes to the release of information. We have seen how they have used that power.
A Leinster House Committee was established on foot of the Barron Report into the Dublin and Monaghan bombings. The Committee severely reprimanded the British Prime Minister for his refusal to establish an inquiry, as called for by the Oireachtas, into the Dublin and Monaghan bombings. It went further and stated that Blair's action is in breach of the Good Friday Agreement. The British Secretary of State, the Northern Ireland Office and the PSNI refused to co-operate in any meaningful way with the Barron investigation itself or with the work of the Oireachtas Committee.
As a Teachta Dála for Monaghan and for County Cavan, together with the team of Sinn Féin TDs and activists in Leinster House, I am very proud to represent Irish republicans. There is no British border in our minds and we are guided at all times by our determination to end partition and build an All-Ireland Republic. And it will not be a paper republic or a symbolic republic but a democratic, sovereign state where equal rights and equal opportunities are guaranteed to all. We want to see an end to sectarianism in any form and every republican should work to that end. We are pledged to fight against the scourge of racism and against all forms of discrimination and for a country that cherishes all its people in all their diversity. And we are determined to campaign side by side with communities throughout our country to end the scandal of inequality and poverty on this island of plenty.
Our strategies and our tactics may change but our basic principles remain the same. They are set out in the Proclamation. Our job is to put it into effect. Our task is to move forward, united and strong, to our goal of Irish unity and independence, to an Ireland of Equals in which all the children of the nation are cherished equally."ENDS