07 April 2006

Wear your Easter Lily with pride


In the grounds of Belfast Castle and beneath McArt’s Fort where Theobald Wolfe Tone and his United Irishmen pledged to fight for a better Ireland, republicans gathered this week to mark the 90th anniversary of the Easter Rising.
Flanked by two Sinn Féin councillors and relatives of people who have died in the conflict, Gerry Kelly officially launched this year’s Easter Lily Campaign.
2006 marks the 90th anniversary of the 1916 Rising, as well as the 25th anniversary of the 1981 hunger strikes.
The MLA said he was calling on people throughout North Belfast to make a special effort this year to wear an Easter Lily and honour Ireland's patriot dead.
“This is a time when we can reflect on 1916 as a turning point in Irish history and, more importantly, seek to educate ourselves and take the lessons of that period forward with us into the new society we wish to create in the future,” he said.
The Sinn Féin politicians were joined by family members of three fallen IRA volunteers in the grounds of Belfast Castle.
Sharon McCabe’s brother in law Pat McCabe was murdered by the British army in 1973 when he only 17-years-old.
Mary McIlroy’s uncle Brian Smyth was also murdered the same year by the British army and in 1978 her nephew Michael Scott was killed after two gas canisters exploded at his house. Pat McIlvenna’s husband Sean was killed by the RUC in 1984 while on active service in Armagh.
The importance of women and the role they played throughout Ireland’s conflict cannot be overstated, the MLA said.
“In 1926 the Cumann Na mBan (League of Women) introduced the Easter Lily as a symbol of remembrance for those who died during or were executed after the Easter Rising,” Gerry Kelly said.
“Constance Markievicz, Kathleen Lynn and many, many more women played a leading role in the rising and throughout the year we will be continuing the work that they began for equality and Irish unity.
“We are also celebrating the activism of women who are today involved in political activity in communities across Ireland, including those women who are to the forefront of community development, women involved with voluntary organisations, women campaigning on socio economic and equality issues in their own communities, nationally and internationally.
“The 1916 proclamation promised equal rights and universal suffrage. On the 90th anniversary of the 1916 Easter Rising it is important to remember and to revive the connection which existed at that time between feminism and nationalism.”

Journalist:: Áine McEntee

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