The announcement by the 26-County Justice Minister Frances Fitzgerald of draconian new laws marks a direct attack on the right to hold or communicate political opinions and ideas as set out in the UN Universal Declaration of Human Rights as well as the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. With the centenary of the 1916 Rising fast approaching it is obvious that the 26 –County administration is attempting to silence Irish Republicanism and to drive it underground. Such coercive methods have failed in the past as this present effort will also fail.
The proposed new laws incorporated into the 26-County Criminal Justice (Terrorist) Offences Act 2005 are intended to silence those who refuse to accept the normalisation of British rule in Ireland and the continued partition of our nation.. However these measures can also be extended to cover all forms of political dissent, be that political, social or economic. People need to be awake to this fact and speak out now. Civil and political rights bodies need to protest this gratuitous attack on the human rights of Irish citizens. Article 19 of the UN Universal Declaration of Human Rights states:“Everyone has the right to freedom of opinion and expression; this right includes freedom to hold opinions without interference and to seek, receive and impart information and ideas through any media and regardless of frontiers.”
Almost 100 years ago at the grave of the Fenian O’Donnovan Rossa Pádraig Mac Piarais warned the predecessors of today’s political class: “They think that they have pacified Ireland. They think that they have purchased half of us and intimidated the other half. They think that they have foreseen everything, think that they have provided against everything; but the fools, the fools, the fools! — they have left us our Fenian dead, and while Ireland holds these graves, Ireland unfree shall never be at peace.”
It is evident that the political establishemnt have not absorbed the lessons of history. They think that they can imprison an idea, that by locking up Republicans they can suppress the desire for a free and independent Ireland. Irish Republicanism has withstood centuries of repression at the hands of both the 26-County and British states. It has endured and will continue to do so because it lives in the hearts and minds of the Irish people.