Cill Dara Shinn Féin Poblachtach

British rule must end to break the cycle of Irish history

Speaking in Ardagh Co Longford on Easter Sunday April 12 the Vice President of Republican Sinn Féin Des Dalton said:

“The 1916 rising was the practical working out of centuries of endeavour all directed at securing the freedom of Ireland from the yoke of English rule.
In each successive generation Irish men and women have been willing to sacrifice everything in defence of Ireland’s right to nationhood. The historian Peter Berresford Ellis writes in the collection of essays The impact of the 1916 Rising that ‘at no time, in any generation, did the Irish people accept the ‘legitimacy’ of the conquerors.’ The 1916 Proclamation documents six occasions in three hundred years prior to 1916 when risings had taken place against English rule in Ireland. The authors of the proclamation of course were also placing the 1916 rising in line with each previous effort to free Ireland.

“The high ideals and the vision of the All-Ireland Republic set out in the 1916 Proclamation nerved a new generation to take on the might of the British empire. In seven glorious years - to paraphrase Frank Gallagher’s memoir of those revolutionary years- they made that Republic a reality.

“We stand at the grave of Alfred McHugh, a soldier of the Irish Citizen Army – according to historian Ruan O’Donnell the Irish Citizen Army could arguably be said to have ‘formed the vanguard of the revolution’. Alfred McHugh’s bravery and commitment during that historic Easter Week led to his untimely death in 1919. Co Longford gave of its best in the struggle for Ireland’s freedom from the battle of Ballinamuck in 1798 up to the historic campaign for hunger striker Martin Hurson in the election campaign of 1981. We think also of Sean Connolly and Barney Casey.

“Compromise and betrayal and British duplicity undid all that was achieved. Each succeeding generation has had to grapple with the “carnival of reaction” which James Connolly predicted would follow on from the partition of Ireland. The partitioned Ireland we live in today is the legacy of the British government’s denial of the Irish people’s right –acting as a unit – to self-determination and All-Ireland democracy.

“Today the same ingredients for conflict and resistance remain in place as they did in 1916. The lesson of Irish history is that as long as there is English occupation in Ireland it will be resisted. The recent attacks on British Crown forces in the Six Counties bears out this analysis. This is the hard reality that must be faced - as Ruairí Ó Brádaigh pointed out – if we are to realise a just and lasting settlement in Ireland.

“By failing to face up to the ‘hard realities of the situation in Ireland’ the British government supported by the 26-County administration are condemning this and future generations to repeat the cycle of Irish history. As was pointed out on the front page of SAOIRSE this month Irish history since 1921 has witnessed a series of agreements culminating in the St Andrews Agreement in 2006. None of these agreements have produced a lasting settlement because none of them has addressed the cause of war and conflict in Ireland which is British rule. This has resulted in a cycle of armed resistance followed by an ‘agreement’ followed by yet further resistance.

“The level of repression including internment by means of 28 day detention following the attacks on British forces show us that the nature of British rule has not changed anymore than the so-called ‘New’ RUC has changed.

“It is time to break this cycle and this can only happen when the British government faces up to the reality that it has no positive or constructive role to play in Ireland. They must give a public declaration of intent to withdraw from Ireland within a stated time-frame. This would create the dynamic within which all of the Irish people could negotiate a New Ireland.

“The EIRE NUA proposals provide the framework for building such a New Ireland and make a reality of Tone’s dream of substituting the names Protestant, Catholic and Dissenter with the common name of Irish man and woman. In short we believe like James Connolly that “England has no right in Ireland, never had any right in Ireland and never can have any right in Ireland.”

“The reaction of the Provisionals following the killing of the three members of the British forces of occupation in Ireland exposes them as part and parcel of the machinery of British rule in Ireland. The journalist Ed Maloney described it as “their Four Courts moment”, when all their posturing and word play could no longer hide the fact that they have now thrown in their lot with the British government in opposition to Ireland’s historic right to national freedom.

“In his rush to condemn a new generation of Irish people prepared to take on in arms the forces of the British Crown Provo British Crown Minister Martin McGuinness described them as “traitors”. He did so while standing in front of Stormont Castle –the seat of British rule in Ireland - flanked by the head of the British Colonial police in Ireland and the leader of the DUP. We will allow the Irish people and history judge who the traitors are. The words of George Bernard Shaw are worth recalling: “ I remain an Irishman, and am bound to contradict any implication that I can regard as a traitor any Irishman taken in a fight for Irish independence against the British government, which was a fair fight in everything except the enormous odds my countrymen had to face.”

“They cannot deliver an Irish language act at Stormont yet they promise to deliver a united Ireland by 2016.

“As people struggle in their day to day lives to cope with the fall out of the current economic collapse they must not allow the 26-County political establishment to throw a smokescreen across the real issues and questions. People should not fall into the trap set by the 26-County administration following the announcement of their latest budget. People must not allow themselves to be divided. Public sector worker should not be set against private sector, employed versus unemployed or old versus young. People must not be diverted from the real issue or fooled by false argument. Now is a time for unity of purpose not division.

“The Dublin administration is attempting to shore up the present failed neo-liberal economic system at the expense of families, workers, students the elderly and the unemployed. In short what we are witnessing is the political class attempting to shore up the discredited economic model which they have championed in the interest of a privileged few regardless of the human cost.

“Workers who are engaged in a struggle to save jobs – in many cases enduring cuts in pay in order to do so – are now being squeezed by both employers and the state.

“New thinking on a national and international level is the only answer to the economic collapse. Accepting that the free market capitalist system has failed we can begin to create an economic system which serves people as opposed to the other war round. The programme for real economic democracy as set out in our social and economic programme SAOL NUA has never been more relevant and provides a basis on which to bring about the kind of radical social and economic change which is needed. Let us not be divided, blinded or fooled, what the state class and the vested interests they protest fear most is people uniting to replace their corrupt and bankrupted system with a New Ireland worthy of the vision of those who drafted the 1916 proclamation.

“This year’s local elections provide an opportunity to send a clear message that people have had enough. The elections in themselves solve nothing but provide an opportunity to put across a clear alternative to the people and provide strong and coherent local political leadership laying the basis for building a movement for revolutionary change in Ireland. We urge you all to get out and support Republican Sinn Féin candidates in the coming weeks.

“This year also sees a re-run of last year’s Lisbon referendum. Last year Republican Sinn Féin played a leading role in securing the rejection of the Lisbon Treaty by a large majority. However the Dublin administration have once more shown their contempt for the democratically expressed wishes of the Irish people and have sided with the EU political elite in once more forcing this treaty on the Irish people. Lisbon is the EU Constitution by another name and its purpose is to create an undemocratic and militarised ‘United States of Europe’. We must prepare once more to oppose Lisbon as we did last year under the banner: defend democracy, neutrality and sovereignty.

“As Irish Republicans the odds which face us are enormous. Historically a vast array from the armoury of repression has been used in opposing us, the pitch cap and the gallows, the firing squad and the internment camp, coercion and censorship. But the flame of Irish Republicanism has survived it all intact. Our task is daunting but we must prove ourselves equal to it for our goal is a glorious one the All-Ireland Republic.

“We can set about that task confident in the knowledge that in the words of Roger Casement, we ‘stand in a goodly company and a right noble succession’”.

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