New Year Statement from the Leadership of Republican Sinn Féin
Republican Sinn Féin extends New Year’s greetings to friends, supporters and members both in Ireland and internationally. We also salute the Republican prisoners in Maghaberry.
The coming year will be the most significant year of commemoration for this generation. The 1916 Rising was a seminal moment in Irish revolutionary history. It was an assertion in arms of Ireland’s claim to nationhood. In its historical context it came amidst the turmoil of the First World War, as the European imperial powers turned Europe into a charnel house in pursuit of their own territorial ambitions of European and world domination.
The 1916 Rising transformed the political landscape of Ireland. It shaped the politics of Ireland for the remainder of the twentieth century. Attitudes as to the legitimacy or otherwise of that Republic of Easter Week would dictate the political division of nationalist Ireland right up to the present day.
1916 is not merely an historical event which can be taken down from the shelf every few years and dusted off like some neglected family heirloom, admired and then conveniently shelved again for another generation or two. It is an event, which still speaks to the Ireland of the 21st Century. It is this fact, which most unsettles the chattering classes in Leinster House and elsewhere.
The centenary of 1916 will see Irish people travel from all over the world to be here in order to commemorate and celebrate this seminal moment in our history. It is wonderful to see so many young people anxious to learn about 1916 and what it represents. However we must guard against those who would attempt to divert that energy and intellectual curiosity by sanitising it in order to rob if of its essential meaning.
The 26-County State came about through the suppression of the All-Ireland Republic proclaimed in 1916; its foundation moment lies in the passage of the Government of Ireland Act of 1920 through the British Parliament at Westminster and not the reading of the Proclamation at the GPO on Easter Monday 1916. They have no legitimacy in commemorating 1916; the 26-County State is a negation of everything that the All-Ireland Republic stood for as articulated in the 1916 Proclamation. This decade will see other centenaries which will be equally and even more uncomfortable for the political establishment of both partition states. The Treaty of Surrender and the Counter-Revolution of 1921-23 undermine the foundation myth of the 26-County State, they are a reminder of its true origins and the undemocratic and violent nature of its coming into being.
For Irish Republicans 1916 is not merely an historical event to be marked. It is unfinished business. Ireland remains partitioned and the north-eastern corner of our nation remains under British occupation. Its ultimate goals have yet to be achieved and we can only truly honour it by working for those ideals. The revolutionary generation of 1913 to 1923 are an example of what people can achieve when they come together in pursuit of a common goal and ideal. For the Ireland of today people should draw on that inspiration in facing the social and economic war that has been waged on them by both partition states. As Irish Republicans we draw inspiration from the past as we look to the future. By articulating authentic Irish Republicanism, by working on the ground throughout the 32 Counties and abroad we are keeping alive the ideals and ideas the inspired the men and women of 1916. We put forward with confidence our alternative to the failed and discredited partitonist system, a system that was imposed on the Irish people by threat of immediate and terrible war in 1921.
The forthcoming 26-County elections will see Leinster House political parties promise change while mouthing platitudes about the ideals of 1916. We say to people don’t be fooled by those who pretend that they can deliver change through the same tired old political channels. However well-intentioned their efforts are all are bound to end in failure and the humiliation of implementing what they set out purportedly to change. Participating in Leinster House or Stormont are not revolutionary actions.
However those on the left who think that Leinster House can be a vehicle for revolutionary social, political or economic change are greatly mistaken. Once you accept the legitimacy of the State and its obligations to the EU and international finance capitalism you are immediately shackled to the same programme of neo-liberal economics that has decimated people and nations across Europe and in the developing world. Irish Republicans have always recognised this and so have refused to be enmeshed in apparatus of partition or British rule. It is for the same reason we refuse to engage with the political arm of the new imperialism in the form of the EU. Those who think that they can ride both horses, the constitutional and the revolutionary, fail to learn the lessons of history. We call on people not to be distracted by those who promise much and deliver little. Hold out for real revolutionary change.
On February 20 we will launch our programme of events for the centenary at a Seminar entitled Who Fears to Speak of Easter Week. The national 1916 Centenary commemoration will take place on Saturday, April 23 and this will be followed by four provincial commemorations as well as events in England, Scotland, the United States and Europe. We urge all who can to attend these events as well as organising events at county and local level. We must give the lead in commemorating the sacrifice of the men and women of 1916.
As the only political organisation still committed to the undiluted gospel of revolutionary Irish Republicanism and the re-establishment of the All-Ireland Republic of Easter Week it is our duty to ensure that the message of 1916 is carried forward and acted upon. The forces of reaction and revisionism are attempting to rob us of our history, of its meaning and relevance in order to make our people compliant and subservient to the present day forces of political and economic imperialism. Instead we must reaffirm ownership of that history. The revolutionary generation of a century ago were men and women of vision. They showed us by their example what can be achieved by ordinary people when they unite together on the basis of principle and idealism.
Head Office: 223 Parnell Street, Dublin 1, Ireland.
Tel: 872 9747. Fax: 872 9757. e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Belfast Office: 229 Falls Road, Belfast, BT12 6FB, Co Antrim, Ireland.
Tel: 9031 9004. Fax: 9031 9863.
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