21 April 2006

'Today's Ireland does not flow from 1916'-- Ó Brádaigh at GPO


"The Easter Rising of 1916 brought about the birth of the world-wide anti-colonial movement, caused the renaissance of idealism in Ireland and broke the imperial myth that the Irish people could not resist English occupation in arms," said Ruairí Ó Brádaigh, President of Republican Sinn Féin."

He was speaking at a 90th anniversary rally outside Dublin's GPO to mark the actual calendar date of the Rising on April 22.

"On this weekend 90 years ago the alternative of the historic Irish nation 'taking her place among the nations of the earth' as a sovereign, independent Republic, as opposed to a partitioned Home Rule partnership in managing the British Empire was asserted defiantly before the world.

Every Easter since 1916, faithful Republicans have commemorated and celebrated this historic action, have distributed the Easter Lily, brought out in its present form by Cumann na mBan in 1925, and have worn it proudly in memory of the men and women of Easter Week and all, in every generation, who have died for Irish freedom.

They have done this in good times and in bad, have had their commemorations banned and attacked by British and 26-County forces, have had the carrying publicly of the national flag prohibited and have suffered imprisonment for insisting in honouring 1916.

On the other hand, the 26-County State has ignored and neglected any public homage to 1916 for more than a generation - for 35 years. Some would hold that in withdrawing such recognition for a long period of that nature it has forfeited all right to be associated with the deeds of the men and women of that period.

Those in charge in the 26 Counties have gone on record as saying that they neglected 1916 in order to deny any support to those resisting British rule in the 26 Counties. In that way, they have admitted the direct connection between 1916 and continuing efforts to end British occupation in Ireland.

The Proclamation of the All-Ireland Republic first read in this historic spot, and signed and sealed by the leaders of the Rising in their own blood, declared 'the right of the Irish people to the ownership of Ireland' to be sovereign and indefeasible'. That right could not 'ever be extinguished except by the destruction of the Irish people'.

This Irish charter of liberty guaranteed 'civil and religious liberty, equal rights and equal opportunities to all citizens', yet one in seven children in the State were in consistent poverty according to the Central Statistics Office (2003). More than one fifth of the population were functionally illiterate.

The English government still rules the Six Occupied Counties and two-thirds of the laws in the other 26 Counties are enacted by the EU in Brussels. All this is very far from the situation visualised in the Proclamation.

The Ireland of today did not flow from the Rising of 1916, but from the denial of the Proclamation and of the First (All-Ireland) Dáil by an Act of the British Parliament, the Government of Ireland Act 1920.

The public auctioning of items associated with the Rising and its leaders is in keeping with the failure to fulfil the ideals of that time.

History teaches us that the active struggle to end English rule here will continue. It will end in due course, but the work of liberation will go on.

The alternative to the failed Stormont Agreement of eight years ago lies in the ÉIRE NUA programme for a new federation of the four historic provinces. This will provide for the distribution of power and decision-making naturally, according to local majorities, among nationalists and unionists alike.

'Protestant, Catholic and Dissenter' can be united on the basis of such a programme, with mutual respect and full access to self-government by all communities. Such a situation would be in keeping with the ideals and guarantees of the 1916 Proclamation."


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