Frank Driver – A lodestone to whom all supporters could gravitate

Republicans gathered in Ballymore Eustace, Co Kildare on November 10 to honour the memory of Frank Driver. Des Dalton chaired the event which had in attendance the Wexford Colour Party, the oration was delivered by RSF Ard Chomhairle member Séan Ó Dubhláin and is carried below. A full report will be in the December edition of SAOIRSE.

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Frank Driver was described as a “lodestone to whom all supporters could gravitate” by the late Ruairí Ó Brádaigh in his funeral oration in 1981. Frank was born in 1906 and it was not long until this man began what was to be a lifetime of dedicated service to the republican cause. At the early age of 12 during the 1918 General Election, Frank worked as a Tally clerk for Sinn Féin during that faithful year. He went on to join the Army of the Republic and at just 16 years of age he was to face his first stint of internment.

After the suppression of the Republic by the Free State, republicanism faced what was low ebb but in the 40s thanks to the efforts of men like Frank the Movement was starting to take shape once again. This period of consolidation and reorganisation led to the 50s Resistance Campaign and it was around this period that Frank Driver was forced into a second stint of internment. But such was the character of this brave Fenian that his hearty reaction was not to lie around the Curragh, no instead he was part of a group that organised a mass break out of republican prisoners. As republicans today we can learn so much from this brave and un-relentless man who despite the hardships encountered never gave in to the enemy.

During Franks funeral in 1981 and I quote from the Leinster Leader of the time, “A most notable feature of his funeral was the presence of over 100 Gardai and detectives including members of the Special Branch. Some took up duty on all approach roads, and scores flanked the cortege and later encircled the hillside cemetery where he was laid to rest.”

Fast forward 32 years and nothing much has changed, we laid to rest in June the man whom delivered the oration at Frank’s funeral, and that quote could have been from any paper in the days after Ruairí’s funeral.

The reality here is, is that this corrupt Free State is terrified of men like Frank and Ruairí, of what they stood for and of the legacy they left behind. And although they say we have all moved on, that Ireland has moved on, in essence the revolutionary tradition is in reaction to their corrupt existence. Nothing has changed and it is a revolutionary tradition that will not be purchased or intimidated by lackeys of the State.

The relevance of a New Ireland

Éire Nua and Saol Nua, the governmental, social and economic policies of Sinn Féin Poblachtach are relevant. They are relevant because they stand in stark opposition to everything the 26 County and 6 County States stand for and represent, it is the job and duty of republicans to bring these policies from obscurity into reality, they offer something tangible and credible for our downtrodden people who have been demoralised and for the most part left hopeless in the face of consistent and dire austerity. Fine Gael and Labour and the Fianna Fail and Greens coalition before them have shown where their true allegiance lies and it is not with the Irish people. They are all traitors and I want to put it on the record that the Unions are not far behind them. Rather than rallying the people, 100 years on from the 1913 Lockout the Irish Trade Union movement is a disgrace and does little to inspire faith, and little to end the erosion of working people’s rights.

The recent budget here in the Free State has seen Health once more targeted, young people have seen their Social Welfare rates cut in what can only be an incentive to push more people over the edge and emigrate. Be under no illusion, emigration is a state policy here. I myself got an offer from the Social Welfare earlier this year to emirate to Germany, prior to leaving they would ensure I got free German lessons, a free ticket and €300 spending money. I considered it an insult and rejected the offer. I have no intentions of emigrating and if ever am forced into doing so it will be only to source means of raising finance for the struggle at home. This is an attitude we must all pertain if the revolutionary struggle is to build real momentum.

Rather than placing an emphasis on protecting the most vulnerable in society, them idiots in Leinster House place an emphasis on making life a literal nightmare instead. In order to achieve their pre set objectives of increased and raw austerity imposed by the IMF/Troika in bailing out a corrupt gang of privateers they will stop at nothing.

This is the harsh reality and it will only get worse as long as these rich career politicians and their rotten British establishment remains in power in this country. So in Éire Nua and Saol Nua we have a formula which addresses the many wrongs being perpetuated against our people. As it stands in a system so centralised the people have little or no say, our representatives it is clear are not fit to represent us and so Republican Sinn Féin have devised a strategy that will return power to the people in a decentralised federal structure where sovereignty will be protected by the built in checks and balances of the new structures based on the four ancient provinces of Ireland.

If we do not stand up and be counted and bring forward our policies then others will fill the gap and comrades, mark my words we cannot rely on others. We cannot rely on those who have no concept of the historic Irish nation to be the guardians of its future. The Free State is already in the process of getting history removed as a compulsory subject in school. As it stands the substance of history thought in schools from the perspective of Irelands turbulent history is watered down and not bearing witness to true facts in order to cover over the hard and painful reality of Irelands past. This is crucial for the Free State’s very survival and the long term acceptance of British rule and normalisation of that rule in Ireland. They seek to inoculate a whole generation and destroy the concept of a separate and distinct independent Irish nation.

As republicans, and especially at this particular time in our history, we need to be looking ahead and taking into consideration what those with vested interests in the system have in store. Be under no illusion, the British and Free State and the wider forces of imperialism stretching from Washington to Brussels have a strategy and that strategy is to wipe out revolutionary opposition in Ireland. But for them it is a careful process, they know it cannot be easily done, to do so they must change the entire outlook of a people who for long have believed in their nation’s right to be free, to be sovereign and to be independent. Tenants crucial to a nation’s vitality they will gladly see destroyed. But to destroy these ideals they must destroy us and in this they will fail. Ireland has always produced men and women alike in the cause of freedom. It is by no means a lost cause but one to be won.

The usurpation of Martin Corey’s freedom

With this consideration we must not ever forget our prisoners, languishing in British prisons. They are engaged in a battle which is symbolic of Ireland’s history of resistance, their existence and opposition in Gaol matched by the activity of their comrades on the outside sends a clear message to the world that Ireland is not for surrender. As James Connolly once put it, “Believing that the British Government has no right in Ireland, never had any right in Ireland, and never can have any right in Ireland, the presence, in any one generation of Irishmen, of even a respectable minority, ready to die to affirm that truth, makes that Government for ever a usurpation and a crime against human progress.”

This crime against human progress could not be better explained than in explaining the usurpation of Martin Corey’s freedom. As Martin’s comrades in Republican Sinn Féin we need to make our voices heard on his behalf and at every juncture. The reality it seems when the facts are analysed that Martin has had his license revoked by the Brits in some sick game for the Brits to test the water on the one hand and gage public opposition and on the other hand to send a clear message to former POWs who were released from Gaol on licence, not to step out of line or you will be next.

Every day Martin Corey spends in Prison is a crime against humanity and I would like to make an appeal to each and every one of you here today to make an extra effort coming in December, prisoner’s month to raise awareness and finance for our POWs who are relying on us.

I want to end by congratulating Republican Sinn Féin on a successful Ard Fhéis after what was admittedly a difficult year, had Frank been there I am sure he would have pleased that despite all the setbacks and all the deliberate efforts to curtail the movement that there is still a revolutionary nucleus alive and well in Ireland, indeed nowhere else in Europe does such a strong tradition persist, and many countries wish they had what we have.

Going into next year we have an opportunity to carry on Frank’s work for the 32 County Republic. The Local Elections in the Free State will provide an opportunity for RSF to put forward its policies and begin a period of recruitment and organisational development with an emphasis on the future.

Beir Bua

Onwards to the Republic Comrades



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