Friday, 3 April 2009

Céiliúradh na Cáisce 2009

Last night was our last meeting of the Belfast National Graves Association before Easter Sunday. A lot of hard work and preparation goes into the events at Easter, work carried out by a very broad spectrum of Republican activists from across Béal Feirste.

This afternoon I joined fellow National Graves Association member Annie Cahill (widow of the late Óglach Joe Cahill) at the Féile FM studios on the Falls to discuss the importance of Easter for Republicans and also a bit about the work of the NGA.

Republican stalwart Joe Austin, who interviewed us, made the point that Annie and I represented that same broad spectrum of Republicans who would, along with thousands more; take to the streets of the city on Easter Sunday to remember our Patriot Dead. That we will, and proudly too!!
Remembrance can be a conflicting issue here in the city and that is a sad thing. Many people from different political perspectives have analysed and written about this issue before now. I don't know that they have all of the answers, I'm not even going to attempt to go into the outstanding issues that remain, but what I do know is that Republicans have a right to remember and honour our dead and that we are working to understand and respect those from other traditions who seek to honour theirs.
This was never so evident than when Alex Maskey as Mayor of Béal Feirste laid a wreath at the City Hall to remember those Irishmen who fought and died at the Somme. This year I joined the current Mayor, Tom Hartley in making that very same gesture.

I also noted a motion at this years Ard Fhéis from Ógra Shinn Féin calling for respect and rightful promotion of the Easter Lily across the 32 Counties.
At the start of the week we launched the Lily in the offices at Stormont; a number of journalists told me that some Unionists had approached them, saying that the Lily was a 'contentious' symbol, nothing could be further from the truth.
Easter is an important time for Republicans, a time when we join together solemnly to remember those who gave their lives in the pursuit of Irish freedom, a time when we stand in solidarity with their loved ones and give them thanks for the burden they bore.

Appropriately, it is a time also where we begin anew; where we listen to the words of the 1916 Proclamation, the bedrock of our politics and recommit ourselves to achieving those realisable and winnable goals.

We rightly gather as a Republican Family to honour Ireland's Dead and we do so not to offend or to hurt but to remember and remind ourselves of the work that lies ahead. Easter is a solemn time for Irish Republicans but it is also a hopeful time and once again up and down this country men, women and children will gather and commemorate, they will listen to the words of history but they will be eager to work for the future.

That is the task before us this Easter and every Easter until we achieve our republican, political objectives.

Honour Ireland's Dead, wear an Easter Lily

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