Full Copy of John Finucane's speech at Ardoyne Easter Commemoration
It is a great honour for me to welcome you here today to Ardoyne as we gather to remember our patriot dead, the generations that gave their all, to build an Irish Republic.
An Irish Republic of equal citizens, sovereign and free.
We remember and we recommit to the cause of Irish freedom, the cause of equality and the cause of Irish unity.
This year, like all years, we have lost comrades to age and ill health. We grieve. The pain is real. The memories still vivid.
And I want to pay particular tribute to all those who have delivered this remembrance garden, ensured its upkeep and provided a peaceful and dignified space for us all to remember our dead.
We send our solidarity to the people of Palestine following the brutal murder of 17 protestors, and the injuring of hundreds more last Friday.
We are proud of the close ties between our two struggles, and we once again stand by the people of Palestine.
And we also send a message loud, clear and unambiguous to our Taoiseach Leo Varadkar to use this moment to recognize the Palestinian state and expel the Israeli ambassador back to Israel, with the message that no more will Ireland tolerate such brutality and murder.
This year marks the centenary of the 1918 general election, the Sinn Fein election. An election in which the vast majority of citizens here turned their backs on Westminster and voted for Irish Republicans.
This was a changing Ireland led by a revolutionary generation. A generation of Gaels, of socialists, feminists and nationalists that found common cause in Irish sovereignty, equality and freedom, and the ending of the union once and for all.
A Changing Ireland
Ireland is again at a point of great change. The orange state is gone, and will never return. The perpetual unionist majority in the north has ended, and ended for good. This did not just happen, for this was a direct result of the sacrifice, resilience, leadership and activism of republicans everywhere, and embodied by this very community I am proud to stand with today.
A new Ireland is emerging, and requires to be shaped.
We are a changing party, a growing party. We have new leadership building on the legacy and work of all those who came before. Building on the work of Gerry Adams, Martin McGuinness and others.
A New and United Ireland
Republicans now, have an opportunity to end the union, to end partition and build a new and united Ireland.
A new and united Ireland, must be about more than adding the north to the south. It is not a 32 county free state. It is a new republic. The republic of Tone and Connolly, Markievicz and Farrell, Sands and McGuinness.
The challenge for us, for this generation of republicans is how we shape that change, how we build a new and united Ireland.
An Ireland of prosperity and opportunity. An Ireland of equal rights in which everyone has a place. An Ireland that provides jobs, homes and health care for its citizens.
An Ireland that promises security of a roof over your head and fair pay for a fair day’s work.
An Ireland of reconciliation and peace.
And we repeat our calls that there can be no credible peace without justice. We stand with the families from this community and beyond who continue to campaign for truth and for justice for their loved ones killed as a result of the conflict here.
It is unacceptable that families have been forced to wait decades for an inquest, or to be used as a cruel political pawn by a British government determined to bury the truth.
But make no mistake, they will not succeed. The rights we fight for are rights for everyone, and we reaffirm our commitment to the many families in their continued fight for justice.
Delivering Irish Unity is the key to building a new Ireland.
There are those on the side of the status quo who will try and frustrate change, to demonise republicans.
They cannot and will not succeed, be they unionists, Tories in Westminster or the elites in Dublin.
The message of Martin McGuinness remains as true today as when he said it – THERE WILL BE NO RETURN TO THE STATUS QUO.
There simply can’t be.
We want to see the institutions up and running, but unless they deliver for everyone here then we will continue to stand strong and fight for equality and fight for rights of everyone – be they our LGBT community, Gaelgori, or families fighting for truth.
These challenges are great, but then so are we. I don’t need to tell this community about perseverance and fighting for what’s right, and we need that spirit and that activism now as much as ever.
It’s often quoted, but rightfully so, when Bobby Sands called on us all to play our part, republican or otherwise. No part is too great, and no part is too small. No one is too young, and no one is too old.
So I call on everyone today to continue to give us your help and support.
Don’t want for change, get out there and demand it, create it and shape the society we all want to live in.
Let us use Easter to commit ourselves to building a new and united Ireland.
An Ireland for all our people, and to finally cherish all of our children equally.
Go raibh mile and up the rebels!