Chairlaocht is a chairde,
behalf of the leadership and Ard Comhairle of R.S.F,
I would like to thank the I.F.C for inviting me to
speak here tonight. On a personal basis I consider
it a great honour and privilege to be associated with
any function or commemoration that honours and salutes
the memory of Michael Flannery, Irish soldier and
patriot. Michael was born in knockshegowna, County
Tipperary in 1902. Michaels' older brothers were all
members of the Gaelic League. Only a few weeks before
the Easter Rising of 1916, and at the tender age of
fourteen, Michael was sworn into 'C' company,7th Battalion,
north Tipperary Brigade, Irish Republican Brotherhood.
His unit saw no action in the Rising itself due to
the countermanding of orders by Eoin McNeil of the
Irish volunteers; but active service did not elude
the young Michael Flannery for long. Serving as a
teenager in the newly formed I.R.A he took part in
actions against Lloyd Georges' Black and Tans - Britain's
terrorist machine in Ireland.
was captured and imprisoned, but was active again
during the Civil war. Fighting with the I.R.A against
the pro-Treaty forces he was again captured and imprisoned,
and took part in a lengthy hunger strike. He was not
released until May 1924. The Leadership of the Republican
movement at that time decided it was essential to
organise support amongst those volunteers who had
been forced to immigrate to America after the Civil
war. Michael and several others were sent to New York
and soon joined Clan na Gael and the rest is already
history. He remained a tireless advocate of freedom
and justice for all the people of Ireland until his
death. In the words of a New York paper on the occasion
of his ninetieth birthday he was a "Rebel without
a pause". At the time of his death in 1994 his
friend and comrade for almost half a century, George
Harrison said of him and I quote, "He sought
no easy roads, he remained unbought, unconquered and
uncompromising to the end". Michael Flannery
was a true Republican.
true Republicans of today are those who actively struggle
to end English rule in Ireland and establish the sovereignty,
democracy and rights of the Irish nation. Patrick
Pearse reminded us in 1915 that whenever Irish leaders
abandoned Tone's aim of "breaking the connection
with England", abandoning what Pearse called
the national position; they were repudiated by the
rising generation of Irish people will similarly repudiate
the Provisional leadership who have in the past years
conspired against Irish Republicanism by the voluntary
destruction of arms given to them for the freedom
betrayal at the behest of the British government,
unprecedented in Irish history, saw weapons being
used to secure, maintain and expand their heavily-subsidised
offices in Westminster, Stormont and Leinster House.
The choice for the Provisionals' military machine
is stark; disband now or sink to the level of a party
militia trying to control sections of the nationalist
people in the six Counties in the interests of British
rule and ultimately actually enforcing that rule.
the fog of media misrepresentation and spin doctoring
it is becoming clearer to ordinary Irish people that
they have been betrayed by the Provisional leadership
and that a section of those who fought to break the
connection with England now accept that rule and administer
it in the six Occupied Counties.
Fein was founded almost a century ago to withdraw
the Irish representation from Westminster and set
up an All-Ireland parliament here at home. This they
did when they formed the 32 County Dail following
the action of the Irish people, voting as a unit,
when they self-determined themselves in the 1918 general
January 21st 2002 they accepted the British parliament
as the centre of gravity in Irish affairs, rather
than "denying the right and opposing the will
of the British Parliament and British Crown or any
other foreign government to legislate for Ireland"
(Preamble to Constitution of Sinn Fein 1917).
should give up all claims to the name "Sinn Fein"
as Fine Gael, Fianna Fail, Clann na Poblachta and
the Workers' Party had the honesty and decency to
do when they departed from the basic principles of
Sinn Fein. The Provos should leave that historic title
to those who still uphold these essential propositions.
arms were given for the freedom of Ireland and not
as a bargaining counter for securing, maintaining
and expanding office in Stormont, Westminster and
Leinster House, thus copper-fastening English rule
date no arms held by British-backed loyalists have
been destroyed - although these are continually in
use against nationalists - nor have arms in the possession
of the British forces themselves been verifiably 'decommissioned'.
Never before in Irish history has such treachery to
the All-Ireland Republic at the behest of the British
government been engaged in, and now for the second
have gone on logically to do public homage to British
soldiers who died in two world wars and in colonial
campaigns across the globe from Africa and Asia to
the Falklands and Ireland. A private graveside ceremony
by family and/or friends is understandable, but to
do formal and public honour at a British cenotaph
is to send a definite political message to the world.
British occupation forces remain in Ireland such a
move can only indicate that British soldiers who died
here in the service of the Crown were in the right
and that Irish Republican soldiers who gave their
lives opposing them down the years were in the wrong.
This we do not and cannot acknowledge; and we speak
with all due respect.
from the Stevens inquiry that there was 'institutionalised
collusion' between the British Crown forces and loyalist
death squads, creating a climate in which nationalists
could be 'murdered with near impunity' is a major
blow to those who pretend that the renaming of the
RUC as the PSNI is anything other than a public relations
exercise. It will also not surprise Republicans that
Stevens concluded that loyalists were incapable of
carrying out targeted assassinations without significant
help from the Crown forces. In the past the B-specials
became the UDR who became the RIR but they remained
part of the British Crown forces. The RUC/PSNI is
still a British police force in Ireland and Republicans
and Nationalists can see by the ongoing attacks on
nationalists and their homes in North Belfast the
Short Strand over recent weeks and months that nothing
and especially the sons and daughters of activists
must realise that the first duty of British police
forces in Ireland has always been to maintain British
rule. The British government still recruits, trains,
motivates, arms, pays and directs the RUC/PSNI, and
Republicans will continue to oppose it and appeal
to nationalists throughout Ireland not to join it.
Sinn Fein is convinced that the Provisionals will
join the renamed RUC. It is only a matter of time.
Their role in the RUC/PSNI is obvious. Like all those
parties who abandoned the 32 County Republic and embrace
constitutionalism - poachers turned gamekeepers -
they will be more bitterly opposed to the Republican
Movement than the original establishment parties.
Mc Guinness said on RTE Radio One on October 4th:
"We need to be on the Police Board.we need to
control our own policing." They cannot wait to
get into British uniform - or even more dangerously
to serve the Crown in plain clothes. And what of the
B-specials, renamed UDR, renamed RIR? Will they enrol
there - and in the British Army itself? Of course
history has taught us that the prime targets of such
"poachers turned gamekeepers" will be their
former comrades in the Republican Movement - to be
harassed, hunted down and even worse.
in Maghaberry Prison, County Antrim Tommy Crossan
has continued to organise prisoners in support of
political status and separation from loyalist and
ordinary prisoners. The success he has achieved in
this regard can be measured from the fact that immediately
Stephen Daly from Tyrone was sentenced to 12 years
in September and moved from the remand wing to join
Crossan and others, Tommy Crossan was removed to Magilligan
Prison, County Derry.
object is to isolate Republican prisoners from each
other, to break their morale and enforce criminalisation.
Provisional spokespersons have not spoken out against
this policy and such of their representatives as have
visited the prisoners have been reprimanded for their
POWs find themselves in a very volatile situation.
They are the victims of a hidden agenda of the Stormont
Agreement of 1998. This was to remove political status
for anyone sentenced for a political offence after
the date of the Agreement. The most dangerous aspect
of this is the enforced integration of Republicans,
Loyalists and ordinary prisoners. Republican prisoners
are forced to share cells and landings with loyalists
who outnumber them, and also with drug dealers and
number of Republican POWs have been attacked by loyalists
and some have been hospitalised as a result. If the
issue of enforced integration continues to be pushed,
it may be only a matter of time until a Republican
loses his life. Therefore the demands are (1) Segregation;
(2) Recognition as a group: (3) the right to a spokesperson
and (4) a separate wing or landing for Republican
searches are constant. Prisoners are locked up 22
hours per day. Cells are raided and wrecked by warders
in riot gear. The weekly parcel is no longer allowed
in and newspapers have to go by recorded post to ensure
prisoners receive them. This puts additional cost
on the families. Political papers such as SAOIRSE
are not permitted at all. Visiting families have to
submit to the indignity of the attentions of a sniffer
dog whose handler decides whether the visit is allowed
POWs live under constant threat from prison staff
that do not conceal their loyalism. Besides many of
the prisoners and some of their families have received
visits from the colonial police to inform them that
their lives are in danger from a group calling itself
the Loyalist Prisoners Reaction Force.
highlight the plight of the Republican prisoners a
white line picket has been held every Saturday outside
our office on Belfast's' Falls Road from 12 to 1pm.
Our Belfast comrades and Comhairle Chuige Uladh wish
to have this picket extended to public places throughout
the country for an hour on one Saturday per month.
view of the present state of melt down of the new
Stormont, it is right to review the national position.
Neither the unionist nor the nationalist communities
can feel their interests are safeguarded under the
Stormont Agreement. That arrangement is dishonest
because it was sold to the nationalists on the basis
that it would lead to a united and free Ireland while
the unionists were told it would strengthen British
rule. It has raised contradictory and conflicting
result has been constant uncertainty, unrest and violence
on the streets. Sectarianism is now much worse than
at any time since 1968. It has touched new low levels
with people going to Mass at Harryville, Ballymena
being physically set upon, little children on their
way to school at Holy Cross, Ardoyne being assailed
both physically and mentally, the residents of the
Garvaghy Road and other local areas being put under
siege and terror and this summer the people of the
Short Strand in East Belfast being denied access to
the local doctor, chemist and other public services.
unionist community lives in apprehension and insecurity
as the certainties of the past appear to decline and
wither away, leaving them in confusion and bewilderment.
No wonder unionist support for the 1998 Agreement
is dwindling. As uncertainty worries everybody, continued
conflict seems likely.
Provisionals have a fundamental problem. While acting
constitutionally - i.e. accepting and working the
partition institutions, north and south, set up here
by England in 1921 - they have not been honest with
their followers. They still pretend to be revolutionary.
THEY CANNOT BE BOTH. Republican Sinn Fein has said
so since 1986. The unionists are right not to trust
them until they decide what they are.
Sinn Fein seeks a nine - county Ulster in a new four
- province federation which would safeguard the interests
of all. Meanwhile Comhairle Uladh is promoting EIRE
NUA to a broader and more diverse readership. More
will be heard of this move in the near future.
it is admitted, even by a senior RUC source that the
great majority of street violence is coming from the
loyalists, and some nationalist observers put it at
90%, David Trimble is attempting yet again to play
the orange card. He seeks another "Border Poll",
the outcome of which is already well known.
Six-County state let was carved out of Ireland more
than 80 years ago by the British government to secure
a local majority in favour of British rule at a time
when the overwhelming preponderance in all of Ireland
had voted for separation from England. Thus was Irish
democracy subverted. Mr.Trimble wants to demonstrate
a foregone conclusion once more in a pointless referendum.
such exercise can take place, of course, without the
authorisation of the British government which set
up the Six-County state let in the first place in
order to continue English rule here. The Irish nation
with its essential right to national independence
has existed for more than 2,000 years. It cannot so
easily be set aside by such machinations. Irish Republicans
and thinking people generally will not be deceived.
do not simply continue our activities for their own
sake. We have a message to bear to the Irish people
at home and in exile - and to all of humankind. That
message is that the Irish nation still exists, that
there are people here who have never surrendered to
British imperialism - and never will. That is our
solemn trust, towards which we must work to make it
a living reality. That is the debt we owe to Michael
Flannery and his generation.
year we will commemorate and celebrate the bicentenary
of Robert Emmet's gallant Rising. When all seemed
lost after 1798 and the Act of Union, this young man
of 25 years stepped into the breach once more and
his noble endeavour made him the most beloved of Irish
patriots. The ballad-makers sang of him and his picture
adorned many a humble cottage in even the most remote
parts of Ireland down the years. Even the poet Shelley,
when he came to Ireland, wrote a poem: On Robert Emmet's
Tomb (that is, where he was supposed to have been
an Irish Republican, Emmet cannot be misrepresented
for he penned a Proclamation "The Provisional
Government to the People of Ireland" as well
as setting out 30 Decrees as the new law of the lands
until a government could be elected by the people.
These documents were radical in nature and showed
his maturity of thought and how fitted he was to lead
the people out of bondage.
trial and protestation of Irish patriotism took place
in Green Street Courthouse, Dublin, where Young Irelanders
and Fenians were later condemned, and where Irish
Republicans are still being condemned, for the crime
of wanting to see Ireland free. However, there are
those who say that Emmet's epitaph should now be written.
What other interpretation can be put on the words
of Mr. Bertie Ahern as reported in the Irish Times
of September 21st last?
said that our position in the EU and UN today are
visible demonstrations of our place 'among the nations
of the world', as alluded to by Emmet in his speech
from the dock".
Emmet said in words quoted ever since by Irish people
around the globe: "Let no man write my epitaph.When
my country takes her place among the nations of the
earth, then, AND NOT TILL THEN, let my epitaph be
year in September, let us remember Emmet and all his
comrades, Michael Dwyer of Wicklow, Miles Byrne of
Wexford, Jimmy Hope of Antrim and Anne Devlin who
never spoke under torture and let us honour them on
the streets of Dublin. And in October let us do similar
honour in Downpatrick, County Down to "The Man
from God Knows where", Thomas Russell who died
there for Ireland at the end of an English rope.
the meantime, and afterwards, let us work to ensure
that Emmet's epitaph can indeed be written!
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