Republican Sinn Fein gathered today in Monaghan to pay homage to Fergal O’Hanlon. The commemoration was chaired by Ard Chomhairle member John Joe McCusker and the main oration was read by Chris Hamill which follows below.
It is a great honour and privilege to be given the chance to speak here today to commemorate one of Ireland’s bravest men.
Fergal O’Hanlon from Monaghan came from a staunch republican family, He was a talented Gaelic footballer and a very keen Irish languageactivist. Being reared in the traditions of republicanism left this young man with an instilled sense of responsibility towards his country and an eagerness to see its independence realised. As a natural step for a young Irish revolutionary, Fergal Joined the Irish republican army. He was a volunteer in the pearse column which was to take part in the border campaign. Fergal along with a number of comrades from throughout Ireland took part in a daring military operation to secure weapons at Brookeborough barracks, while on this operation, he and his comrade Sean south were fatally wounded. Fergal O’Hanlon gave his life in service to the all Ireland Republic on New Years day 1957 at the age of just 20.
The raid made immediate headlines and within days South and O’Hanlon were declared martyrs. In true Irish tradition, the ballad-makers set to work. Like Father Murphy of Boolavogue in 1798, and Kevin Barry during the Tan War of 1920, the names of South and O’Hanlon were added to the national role of honour.
The following week was almost an occasion of national mourning as the coffins—draped in tricolours—were taken across the border. O’Hanlon’s mother remained firmly committed to the IRA and was hurt by the suggestion that there was an alternative to IRA activity or that her son was anything other than an Irish hero.
61 years later these 2 iconic figures of Irish resistance are household names and stories of their gallantry are still spoken of in republican and nationalist homes across the nation. Their daring commitment has left a legacy that has followed through until the present day. History has shown us that in every generation there has been a renewed resistance to British rule, they can never defeat the Irish Nation, not while we exist. Still as we stand here today there are men and women willing to stand up and resist the British crown forces and their occupation of Ireland through the only means that the British War Machine understands, and that is through the use of arms.
Since the time of Fergal O’Hanlon and Sean South countless Irish men and women have gave their lives for the very same principle of self determination, independence and liberty. We remember the Sacrifice of all those who have gave their lives and pledge our allegiance to those people who continue in the struggle for Irish Independence.
The reality of today is that there are those who have tried to change republicanism, and indeed some people who portray themselves as republicans have been actively working against it. To be a republican is simple, it requires a core belief in Irish independence while not recognising, anything other than the Irish Republic as legitimate. As Republicans there are no alternatives, we don’t accept partition; we can’t accept British institutions or concessions. We want a 32 county Irish Republic, a New Ireland for all, leaving behind old prejudices and creating an Ireland of equals. The Free State is a failed entity and the 6 county statelet is a failed entity.
Homelessness, austerity, poverty, the drugs epidemic are major issues in both the Free State and the occupied 6 counties. At the end of 2017 there were approximately 10,000 homeless people across Ireland. Whatwe see is the ‘official’ homeless figures. But It is widely recognised that large numbers of young people live without a permanent home but do not enter homeless services. These young people survive by sleeping on a friend’s sofa, squatting or staying in other insecure or unsafe places.We know so little about the real numbers of young people facing homelessness in this way and the challenges they face. They are often referred to as ‘the hidden homeless’.While the Government has introduced a range of policies to tackle homelessness the growing number of people becoming homeless shows they are inadequate.
The failure of both these government’s to provide decent working and living conditions have brought more people out onto the streets to show their anger. The Irish people deserve to take their place among the free nations of the World. The British government fear republicans, they fear what we stand for; they fear the voice we have. They are right to fear us because we will actively oppose their occupation of Ireland and we will continue to oppose it until we destroy their very existence in this country.
The stance of some Irish People towards human rights abuses in Ireland must also be challenged, the case of Gabriel Mackle is just one example. Gabriel was released from Maghaberry jail in august after spending four years there. Only 3 months later he was arrested at his family home by armed PSNI RUC thugs. They took great pleasure in leaving his children in tears and traumatised by what they were forced to witness. He is being held for no other reason than his adherence to his Republican beliefs and faces the possibility of spending another four years in Maghaberry jail. The British government are now trying to stop any legal challenge on Gabriel’s license recall by denying him legal aid therefore stopping or halting any proceedings.Gabriel Mackle is Interned he is one of three currently interned by the British State, the other two are Tony Taylor and Neil Hegarty. These three men are not the first and have joined the long list of Irish Men and Women who have suffered under The British Injustice system. The Irish people do not stand a chance of fair treatment under British occupation, Political dissent is deemed illegal and republicans are dealt with using draconian and oppressive tactics.
The Republic has been proclaimed and it is up to each and everyone of us here today to bring it to its full realisation, and What I would say to anyone who isn’t currently involved in the republican movement is to join Republican SinnFein, be part of Irish history, be part of the republic and take ownership of what is rightfully ours. I will finish with the words of Pearse which I think are very appropriate to today’s generation.
“As long as Ireland is unfree the only honourable attitude for Irishmen and women to have is an attitude of rebellion”
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