I would like to thank the Independent Republicans of South Kilkenny for their cordial invitation to allow me to speak here today in remembrance of the Sinnott’s Cross Ambush.
Commemorations are much more than an act of remembrance and respect for past actions, they represent a contemporary examination of where the goals of Irish republicanism lie today.
We do no justice to our patriot dead unless we display a frank honesty with both ourselves and the Irish people as to our effectiveness in securing those aims.
The traditional republican base must first and foremost recognise that by making failure a noble tradition we doom ourselves to perennial failure also.
Those Volunteers who engaged the Crown Forces at Sinnott’s Cross did so with the clear intention of being part of a broader and successful struggle to restore the national sovereignty of the Irish people.
In tandem with armed struggle those republicans brought both governance and law to the Irish people. They invoked history as a means to create their own history thus earning the right of inheritance of the republican mantle.
This is the challenge which faces us also, the development of a broad-based strategy that can credibly claim to be pursuing republican objectives.
The language of the people can only be understood by recognising the needs of the people. Irish freedom would be meaningless if our people remain slaves to debt, victims of homelessness or imprisoned to low wages.
Our right to our natural resources, to the fruits of our labour, to the integrity of our national territory and to the collective wisdom of our people’s vote are one and the same. To campaign for one is to campaign for all. They are all matters of Irish sovereignty!
The task for Irish republicans is to bring the 1916 Proclamation to the people. The core tenets of that seminal document must be translated into a contemporary narrative. And that narrative must be translated into a republicanism which is applied and made relevant to them.
Our people are not tangents to the republican struggle: they are the inspiration and ultimate resource for it. The Republic we seek to establish for them is a rights-based Republic where the sovereign freedom of the individual and the sovereign freedom of the nation are co-dependant.
As we stand Irish republicanism is devoid of national leadership. To address this fact local leadership must evolve and begin to organise. There are many issues of injustice around which republicans can group and make effective activism.
The Justice For The Craigavon 2 and Stop The Extradition of Liam Campbell are perfect examples of justice campaigns that require locally led initiatives to lobby on their behalf. No permission is required, the prior approval of an outside agency does not need to be granted. Seize the issue and seize the day.
To be a republican is to be a servant to freedom, justice and equality. The pursuit of these noble ideals must be firmly rooted in pragmatism and activism. The road to the Republic will not be found in negative abstentionism or partitionist politics but in the securing of rights through applied republicanism.
Not recognising Leinster House or Stormont is the easy part of abstentionism, its 1% of it. The other 99% is building the alternative. That is what Republicans did in 1918.
We are now the voice of all those whom we honour here today. At least in one respect we can make a pledge that when we stand here next year, on the centenary of their heroic attack, we will have positive republicanism to report. Let that be the challenge for the coming year. For the Volunteers of Sinnott’s Cross, let us be worthy of the task!