The following oration was read yesterday by national chairperson of the 32 County Sovereignty Movement Francie Mackey at the annual commemoration for volunteer James Lillis in Carlow.
As we enter this new year we reconcile ourselves to the fact, that after one hundred years, partition is set to continue. We state this fact because for a quarter of that century, twenty-five years, partition has been administered under the Good Friday Agreement.
The parallels between Good Friday and the Anglo-Irish Treaty of 1921 are striking. Firstly, the entire concept of such treaties being steppingstones to sovereign independence is exposed as a myth.
Secondly, the provisions contained in each treaty, specifically relating to the future of the border, are so rife with ambiguity as to render them completely useless as regards constitutional change.
In the era of Volunteer James Lillis that provision was known as the Boundary Commission. Lauded by pro-Treaty forces, who executed James for upholding the Republic, the commission drifted into obscurity and abandonment within several years of its formation.
Its contemporary equivalent, a Border Poll, is now set to follow suit. Notwithstanding the glaring shortcomings of such a poll from the republican perspective, moves are now in train to alter what constitutes a numeric majority if ever such a poll is called.
At every turn in that process counter democratic obstacles will be set in place to frustrate the evolving of a sovereign democratic republic for our people and our country.
It ill behoves any Irish republican to go cap in hand to a British Minister asking their permission that we may be allowed to vote on our own future. And not only does such a minister retain that power over us they can also decide the nature and political thrust of any question posed.
Although our analysis remains correct and prescient, we nonetheless have to face the question of republican relevance and influence. We cannot retreat into splendid isolation with ourselves the only audience to our ideas
Never were the prophetic words of Bobby Sands more relevant as they are today. “Everyone, Republican or otherwise has their own particular part to play. No part is too great or too small, no one is too old or too young to do something.”
For ideas to emerge to advance republicanism all republicans must be involved. There is no invitation required, no aptitude test to pass. Republican groups do not have exclusive rights or a monopoly when it comes to interpret our history or comment on our predicament. The Republican Movement needs your contributions.
We made clear in our New Year’s statement that the electoral momentum on the island must be let run its course, because the difference between opposition rhetoric and the reality of the constraints of government, at this remove, is the surest way of vindicating the republican analysis. The restoration of Irish sovereignty cannot come out of Stormont or Leinster House.
We are on the cusp of generational change. We are at the point where the baton must be passed on from those republicans born of the conflict to a younger generation who have no experience of it. That is a nettle which needs to be grasped and fully understood.
Every generation of Irish people have their own right to assert and pursue the sovereign rights of the Irish people. Our role is to guide them with our experiences, but it is their role not to be dictated to by a generation who ultimately failed.
To paraphrase Wolfe Tone, what is done is done. Let’s have faith in the emerging generation of young republicans to vindicate the sacrifice of Volunteer James Lillis and finally deliver the republic of Connolly, Pearse and Tone.