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Easter Commemoration 2024

The following oration was read by Martin Rafferty at this years easter commemoration at Arbour Hill.




The noble words magnificently engraved on the wall behind me are the life blood thoughts of our great patriot dead, interred here in front of me. These words are the words of nationhood, of statehood and of national sovereignty.


They are the bedrock of the republican struggle. They proclaim to the world, not only the right of the people of Ireland to self-determination, but the right of all peoples who are struggling against imperial and colonial conquest to that very same right.

    

The 1916 Proclamation also serves another important function, it sets out in clear and precise language the basic terms required to finally settle the Anglo-Irish conflict.

    

At this hallowed spot lay the greatest of our Fenian dead. Steeped in history and culture and in possession of an acute sense of social justice, they embody a living template of what an Irish Republic must be to its people.

    

The sovereignty of the people of Ireland is inalienable and indefeasible. The partition of our country is a continuing affront to that fundamental truth. The guiding principle for all republicans is to act in accordance with the elemental truths of the Proclamation and afford zero legitimacy to either partitionist states.


Throughout our history so-called ‘solutions to the Irish problem’ have only perpetuated British occupation because they employed a willing Irish political class to administer that occupation under British supervision.

    

From Grattan’s Parliament to Stormont the legacy of Irish quislings paints a predictable pattern wherein the occupation is sanitised and the resistance to it is demonised.

    

Irishmen and Irish women who adhered to the wisdom and teachings of Wolfe Tone were criminalised, imprisoned, transported, excommunicated and executed.

    

But what the British could never understand, and their chosen Irish could never emulate, is that the oppression and betrayal levelled against us was the very theatre within which Irish republicanism perfected our resistance and honed our vision for a sovereign Irish Republic.

    

The leaders of the 1916 Rising represented to almost perfection the rich tapestry which was woven over generations of armed resistance, land agitation, cultural revival and social and industrial struggle.


Each of those generations who took to arms also brought with them revolutionary ideas which linked inextricably the plight of our people to the national struggle for sovereignty.

    

Central to the formulation of these ideas was the complete removal of British Parliamentary activity in Ireland to address conclusively what the Proclamation referred to as ‘the differences carefully fostered by an alien Government’.

    

Those fabricated differences are at the root of British strategic interests in Ireland. From the Penal Laws to the Good Friday Agreement, British occupation structured itself around a basic premise, that those who claimed loyalty to the crown were exempt from any semblance of democratic accountability within the island of Ireland.

    

This is the mindset, both British and Irish, that partitioned our country. Home Rule foundered because the so-called mother of parliaments bowed to the threat of unionist violence. Partition was made manifest because Irish counter-revolutionaries bowed to threats of violence from that very same parliament.

    

The true enemy of Ireland is the deeply flawed premise that any settlement of the Anglo-Irish conflict must contain an institutionalised British dimension.


Such a dimension is always portrayed as temporary, a stepping stone and necessary for peace. Yet the partition of our country has surpassed a full century. For a quarter of that century partition has been administered under the Good Friday Agreement. False milestone after promised milestone have come and passed and the expectation of British withdrawal recedes even further.

    

The future direction of the constitutional question has once again been surrendered to the total discretion of the British Government. The fallacy that a Border Poll in some way places the future of Ireland in the hands of the Irish people continues to be exposed, as the realities of electoral politics forces its adherents to make the Six County entity work, both politically and economically, on behalf of its British overseers.

The narrative has now changed to a two-state solution on the island of Ireland.

    

As Irish republicans we are as one with the struggle of the Palestinian people. The present US backed Israeli genocide in occupied Palestine has rightly brought millions of people onto their respective streets demanding an end to the carnage.


The people of Ireland have stepped up to the mark and can proudly say that they have done so in solidarity with the people of Palestine in the Gaza Strip and The West Bank.

    

But Irish republicans must be to the fore in combatting the same narrative used in Ireland that is now being used for Palestine. There is no two-state solution. Such a strategy has at its core the sanitising of Israeli occupation of Palestine and the continuing denial of national sovereignty for the Palestinian people.

    

The parallels are clear between the process which gave us the Good Friday Agreement and the Palestinians the Oslo Accords. Couched in terms such as peace process and democratic settlement these liberal outworkings serve only the interests of the Western powers which sponsor them.

      

In the case of Palestine and the Oslo Accords the Palestinian Authority were the chosen safe pair of hands, Israels version of Provisional Sinn Féin and Stormont. But in 2006 Hamas won the elections and the response from the West was swift and predictable, a total rejection of the democratic result and no elections have been held since. The only acceptable Palestinian representatives are those they deem to be “moderates” and pro-Western. All others were labelled as dissidents.

    

In 1993 when the PLO, led by Yasser Arafat, were forced, against the wishes of a considerable number of the Palestinian population, to sign the Oslo Accords there were 7,400 illegal settlers in the West Bank. Today that number has increased to 670,000.

     

The PLO were promised full control of the West Bank and the Gaza Strip with the creation of the Palestinian Authority. Full control of security over the areas would still be in the hands of the Israelis.


From its inception the Palestinian Authority has been embroiled in power struggles and corruption scandals. With the ever-increasing expansion of the illegal settlements and ethnic cleansing of Palestinians from their lands the Palestinian Authority has become nothing more than a gate keeper for its Israeli paymaster.

    

To understand why a two-state solution was never going to materialise you have to understand why Israel was created by Britain with the full backing of the UN and the USA in the first place. It wasn’t to provide a safe home for the Jewish community of the world. It was to create an outpost to look after its own interests in the Middle East.  What we are witnessing now is the final phase of the West’s project to totally and finally rid Palestine of its people and replace them with Zionist settlers. Resistance to this colonial genocide must be centred around the issue of national sovereignty for Palestine as a first prerequisite to any negotiations for a just and lasting peace.


So when we take to the streets in protest, we must remember that the cause of Palestine is the cause of Ireland, and the cause of Ireland is the cause of Palestine in return. We must make all our protests count.

    

The Proclamation remains unfinished business. The legacy of those who fought in Easter Week still remains entwined with the yet to be written epitaph of Robert Emmet.

    

Every generation of Irish people have both the right and duty to author that epitaph. That we are that generation confers on us an onerous responsibility particularly if we choose to stand in this place and claim solidarity with their sacrifice and cause.

    

They did not give their lives for praise or adulation but in full confidence that those who would come after them could realise their objectives. That is the price we must pay for gathering here.

    

Of late, those who have abandoned the struggle for political careers, have now sought to apologise for that struggle because it harms the political direction they have taken.

    

The recently published Kenovo Report into the role of British Intelligence in the war in the Six Counties demonstrates, in stark terms, the resolve of the Westminster Parliament to murder at will in Ireland to protect their interests here.

    

It lays bare the complete falsehood upon which the so-called peace process was based, that the British have no selfish strategic or economic reasons to remain in Ireland.

    

The depth of British infiltration within republican ranks may well explain to a large degree why a republican leadership surrendered so much in return for so little from British negotiators. Some day the truth will out.

     

For our part we make no apologies for struggles past, present or in the future. The British have a long history of coercion, terror and genocide in the occupation of our country.

    

We take great heart and resolve in how our revolutionary forebears dealt with these oppressive measures in their turn. But for now this generation must be guided by the enabling words of Cork IRA Commander Tom Barry;

     “They went down into the mire to destroy us and our country and down after them we had to go.”

 

Beir Bua!



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