Cill Dara Shinn Féin Poblachtach

British withdrawal only basis for a New Ireland

Speaking at a commemoration marking the 90th anniversary of the murder by British forces of John and Thomas O’Reilly, Peter McGennity and Patrick Quinn in Killeen, Co Armagh the President of Republican Sinn Féin Des Dalton said:

“The nationalist people of the Six Counties have long experienced at first hand the terror and brutality of the British state. Gathering here to commemorate the murders of four soldiers of Oglaigh na hEireann at the hands of pro-British forces we are reminded that such dark deeds have been repeated time and again over the course of the last 90 years in the Six Occupied Counties.

“In the early hours of July 6 1921 – only four days before the truce with British forces – a British murder squad called to the homes of brothers John and Thomas O’Reilly, Peter McGennity and Patrick Quinn. All of them were volunteers in the First Northern Division of the IRA. The O’Reillys and Peter McGennity were driven a short distance from the McGennity house to the spot where they were shot dead. According to the Newry Reporter three quarters of an hour later the same murder gang raided the McQuaid home in Newry where Patrick Quinn was staying. Despite making a valiant attempt to escape Patrick Quinn was gunned down.

“Despite the fact that a sister of Peter McGennity told a British Military Inquiry that she could identify one of the murderers having seen him enter the British military barracks no was ever arrested or charged with the murders.

“The year 1921 had seen martial law declared in many parts of Ireland, habeas corpus was suspended while British forces engaged in a campaign of terror and murder. In 1920 the Lord Mayors of Cork and Limerick were murdered. In 1921 alone 322 young men were murdered in what have been called “official reprisals”.

“In March of the following year six members of the McMahon family along with Edward McKinney were murdered in Belfast by British forces. The following week saw another five nationalists murdered by the British Colonial police in the Arnon St massacre also in Belfast. Between June 1920 and July 1922 267 nationalist would be killed as a result of a British inspired sectarian pogrom. Dorothy Macardle in her authoritive history of that revolutionary decade ‘The Irish Republic’ wrote: ‘By June 18th, 1922, it was calculated, the total casualties since June 21st, 1920, were 1,766 wounded and 428 killed. The number driven from their homes, the ultimate triumph of the pogrom, was about 23,000. This work was carried out by the Specials and the mob. The British troops stationed throughout the towns of the Six Counties did not interfere.’

“During the current phase of the war against British rule in Ireland the British state has used similar methods in order to strike fear into the hearts of the nationalist community. In October 1976 in Whitecross, Co Armagh, a British-backed loyalist death-squad murdered six nationalists from two families, three from the Reavy family – one of whom died shortly after the attacks - and three from the O’Dowd family. The murder gang included members of the RUC and the British Army’s notorious UDR.

“The methods and policy of British Rule in Ireland does not change with time. Britain has always maintained its grip on Ireland through brutality and terror and has not taken anything off the table today in terms of the methods it will use to control the nationalist population.

“The 1998 Stormont Agreement was sold to the nationalist people of the Six Counties as providing a stepping-stone to a united and free Ireland. The Stormont Assembly is an obstacle on the road to a free Ireland not a stepping-stone.

“The events in the Short Strand in Belfast on June 21 and 22 along with the riots there over this weekend (July 1,2,3) and the response of the British state tell us that nothing has changed. Despite the admission of the RUC/PSNI that the attacks on the nationalist people of the Short Stand were “orchestrated” by the UVF, the first arrests were of two nationalists and within a day the Stormont First Minister Peter Robinson was sitting down to talk to the UVF.

“The report of British Police Ombudsman Al Hutchinson into the murder of six nationalists in Loughinisland Co Down by a British directed loyalist death-squad in 1994 again exposes the true face of British Rule in Ireland. Hutchinson chose to ignore obvious evidence of collusion between loyalist death-squads and British Crown forces in his report. Again the British State protecting its own.

“Thirty years after the heroic sacrifice of Bobby Sands and his nine comrades in the H Blocks of Long Kesh Republican prisoners in Maghaberry prison are again embarking on a protest to uphold their right to political status and deny the attempt of the British Government and its surrogate regime in Stormont to criminalise the struggle for Irish Freedom. On June 30 they announced a return to protest as a result of the Stormont Justice Minister David Ford reneging on the independently mediated Agreement reached in August. We salute them and pledge them our activism and energy in support of their struggle. It is no less than our duty as Irish Republicans.

“Irish history has shown that there can be no lasting peace or settlement in Ireland as long as the British state continues to occupy Ireland. Each succeeding generation has shown willingness and ability to resist British rule and the present generation is no different in this regard. It is only by a full and total withdrawal of British military and political interference in Ireland can there be the basis for building a New Ireland.

“Republican Sinn Féin confidently puts forward Éire Nua as the only credible alternative to the two failed partitonst states. With its democratic check and balances and provision for local decision making within a free federal Ireland all sections of the Irish people will have a stake in the New Ireland.

“We honour the memory of four brave volunteers of the army of the All-Ireland Republic - the IRA - who gave their lives so that the Irish Nation might live. Our most fitting monument to them will be the re-establishment of that All-Ireland Republic. It is only then that we as a nation can march ‘to the dawn light of freedom.’”

An Phoblacht Abú

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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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