Cill Dara Shinn Féin Poblachtach

Frank Driver remembered

On Sunday November 21 Kildare Republican Sinn Féin held its annual Frank Driver commemoration in Ballymore Eustace Co Kildare. Led by colour parties from Republican Sinn Féin and Na Fianna Éireann those taking part marched from Driver’s cottage in the Ballymore to the grave of Frank Driver in St John’s cemetery.

The ceremony was chaired by Paddy Tidd of the Frank Driver Cumann, North Kildare. A wreath was laid on behalf of the Republican Movement by Celia Conway, Kilcullen and a decade of the rosary was recited by Kitty Hawkins, Ballymore Eustace. Paddy Tidd called for a minutes silence and a dipping of the flags in memory of all who died for Irish Freedom.

In her oration Cáit Trainor, Co Armagh, a member of the Ard Chomhairle said:

“Firstly I would like to say what an honour it is to speak at the graveside of such a man as Frank Driver, Its 29 years since Frank Driver passed away and in those 29 years his relevance and inspiration has not waned. Frank Driver was a man of conviction and courage, his long career in the Republican Movement saw some of the Most Important events in Irish History.

“Frank was not a man who sat back and watched History unfold around him, but was indeed part of the making of Irish History, from the start Frank was Hands on, his first service for the Republican Movement began at age of 12 when he was a Tally clerk for Sinn Féin during the Historic 1918 General Election. After which time he was active within the IRA and at age sixteen was interned.

“Frank Driver was a dedicated republican, being active all his Live within Republicanism, in the 40's Frank Driver was instrumental in reorganising the Republican Movement, in the 50's training Volunteers and when he was interned once again in the Curragh camp, Frank was involved in organising a mass break out. Such was Frank Driver that no matter what was threw at him or where he was he always worked to further the Republican Movement, even at times when it seemed Fruitless Frank Worked on such was his resolve.

“We can all learn from the Life of such a man, a man who went through some of the most turbulent and it has to be said disheartening times in Republican History and still right up until his death he never gave up.

“At present we live in a time where determination and dedication are overlooked as outdated and stubborn, that Republicanism is somehow taboo and in our general lives we cant express our patriotism for fear of being seen as Old Fashioned or somehow backward. Well I believe the time of change has come, we now have a chance to speak to the masses and make a difference.

“The Free state economic crisis is an eye opener for many Irish People, the lies the Free state government has fed people have now been exposed, Partition does not work, it has never worked and it never will work. The people of Ireland must have social control of the economy.

“Eire Nua and Saol Nua had never been so relevant, its the only real solution, we have the solution but others just want to focus on the Problem.

“The Myth that the 26 County Free state is Independent and the Myth that the 6 county state being devolved is somehow independent has been shattered, the 6 county state has no autonomy, it relies on the British exchequer and takes instruction from the British in the management of the cuts applied to them, the 26 county state also has no autonomy in directing the economy and instead is ruled from Brussels and the IMF, Neither state is independent and the present economic crisis has made that abundantly clear to everyone. Partition must be abolished, only the Republic envisaged in 1916 by Connolly and Pearse can give Ireland autonomy, independence and real Sovereignty over our affairs politically and economically, and only the Republic envisaged in 1916 can act in the interests of all our people.

“Frank Driver stood by the revolutionary Republican ideas as laid down by the men of 16, these ideas were kept alive by men like Frank Driver in hard times for the Republican Movement, those revolutionary and progressive ideas have been hidden deliberately by self serving politicians and greedy capitalists in our country. It is thanks to Frank Driver and his comrades that the flag of revolution is still being kept alive and we in Republican Sinn Fein are the inheritors of that revolutionary and progressive tradition.

“Having suffered many set backs and misrepresentation by politicians and vested interests out for personal gain and with no regard for the interests of our nation, we have come through and are embarking on a new wave of republicanism that is now being seen as relevant as it always was, and more and more people are rediscovering the truth and relevance of revolutionary Republicanism, Republican Sinn are at the forefront of the revolution and stronger and more united than ever to achieve our goals which is assert the Sovereign independence of our country which was proclaimed on the steps of the GPO 1916.

“Only last week Republican Sinn Féin had a very successful Ard Fheis where many delegates from throughout the Country assembled, it was great to see a unity of purpose, men, women, young and old joined together, there we rededicated ourselves to the work of the republic.

“Until the 32 Counties of Ireland are independent and free we cant settle, we must reaffirm our dedication to have what is rightfully ours and we will not be lax in our efforts to spread the Republican message. Today as we commemorate the life of Frank Driver I wish to appeal to all of us to make a determined effort to fulfill Frank Driver and so many others Life Goal, which is to rid our Country of foreign occupation to support our Revolutionary Movement in whatever way you possibly can. We owe it to the past generations and we owe it to the future generations to Gain Independence once and for all.” Cáit Trainor said.

The parade then formed up and marched back to Ballymore Eustace.

Frank Driver

Frank Driver was born in Ballymore Eustace in 1907. As a young boy he was in Bodenstown when P H Pearse spoke there in 1913. His first activity on behalf of the Republican Movement was when he acted as a tally clerk for Sinn Féin in the historic 1918 General Election. He was active with the IRA and was the youngest internee in the Newbridge internment camp at 16 years of age.

He went on to give a life-time of service to the Republican Movement suffering imprisonment in the 1930s, 40s, and 50s. His last period of imprisonment was in Mountjoy in 1976 for his participation in the banned 1916 60th anniversary commemoration at the GPO.

He played a lead role in the famous raid on the Free State army’s arsenal at the Magazine Fort in the Phoenix Park in 1939. He was interned in the Curragh from 1940 to 1944. Following the release of the internees and the aftermath of the repression of the 1940s Frank Driver travelled throughout Ireland re-organising the Republican Movement. As J Bowyer says in his history of the IRA “On June 23 1947,at Bodenstown, Frank Driver gave the traditional oration, signifying that the Republicans were back in business. Most important was the Army report, read to the crowd, the first public sign that the IRA still existed.”

In 1956 Frank, with others was responsible for setting up training camps. He was interned again in the Curragh in the 1950s. He was involved in the mass break-out from the Curragh on December 2 1958. Frank remained an active Republican right up to his death on November 12 1981. He was for many years a member of the Ard Chomhairle and was an Honoury life Vice-President of Sinn Féin.

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"We of Republican Sinn Féin are the nucleus, which represents what Emmet represented,
the soul of Ireland,the prophetic shock minority, those who are neither purchased nor intimidated."

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