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Saturday, August 11, 2012

Freedom is Not Free in Ireland












Marian Price is seriously ill in hospital with pneumonia. Her family has expressed “deep concern” about her deteriorating mental and physical health.

In June Price, who is suffering from severe depression after a year in solitary confinement, was moved from Hydebank prison to Belfast City Hospital’s Windsor House unit, which treats patients with psychiatric issues.

But her health has continued to fail. On Tuesday she was diagnosed with pneumonia and moved to the main hospital.
Her husband, Jerry McGlinchey, told the Belfast Telegraph:
“We’re extremely worried. Marian has been in constant pain for months. Nobody has to agree with my wife’s politics to see this is wrong and violates her human rights.”


Arrested after she participated in a republican commemoration ceremony, despite being granted bail, she was returned to prison after her licence was revoked by Secretary of State Owen Paterson and she has been in jail since. The fact Marian was never on licence having received a Queen's pardon when she was released from prison after serving a long sentence for her part in the Old bailey bombing, epitomises the British governments contempt for the rule of law when it involves Irish people. When her lawyers demanded a copy of her pardon, a ministerial gofer claimed the documents relating to Marian release have been lost.
BIRMINGHAM, ENGLAND - OCTOBER 06:  Secretary o...
 Secretary of State for Northern Ireland Owen Paterson. 

Ever since the UK Coalition government came to power in 2010, it is as if they wish to row back from the Good Friday Agreement. In this case and that of Martin Corey, they have behaved in the most provocative way. If you add in the mistreatment of Republican prisoners in Maghaberry prison who are members of small groups who do not support the Peace Process, one cannot help catching glimpses of the bad old days when British governments believed they could ride roughshod over the democratic and human rights of the nationalist working classes.

One certainty about Irish history is the croppies will not lie down in the face of injustice, if the peace process is to offer Republicans a democratic avenue it must be seen to work for all, even its most implacable opponents.

Mick Hall.

IRISH REPUBLICAN NEWS





1.  SERIOUS CLASHES OVER INTERNMENT BONFIRES 
2.  Sinister agenda seen behind Belfast evacuation order
3.  Nationalist cities forced to host sectarian festivals
4.  UUP inflames nationalists with signs, comments
5.  Murder of West Belfast boy to be investigated
6.  British soldier's message of hate
7.  Feature: Operation Motorman - organised murder
8.  Feature: Address to hungerstrike commemoration


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>>>>>> SERIOUS CLASHES OVER INTERNMENT BONFIRES 


A 13-year-old girl was among those arrested after the PSNI attacked
nationalist anti-internment bonfires this week.

Bonfires were lit in several areas of Belfast at about 10pm on
Wednesday evening to mark the 41st anniversary of the introduction of
internment without trial in 1971.

The Six-County government has moved to suppress the bonfires, which have
become associated with the ongoing internment of 'dissident'
republicans.

Trouble quickly broke out between the PSNI and local youths in a number
of locations.

Rioting broke out in Belfast while there were also serious disturbances
in Banbridge, County Down.

Some of the worst rioting broke out in the Divis Street area of west
Belfast, where petrol bombs were thrown, but there was also trouble in
New Lodge in the north of the city and at North Queen Street.

Trouble was also reported in the Stewartstown Road area of west Belfast.

In some locations, burning barricades were set up, while fire crews,
tasked to extinguish the fires, also came under attack.

A total of six were arrested in Belfast, and two more arrested in
Banbridge. They were charged with obstructing police, rioting, and
resisting police.

West Belfast Assembly member Fra McCann condemned the bonfires.

"Young children who collect the wood have been encouraged to do so by
older people  in the background and these people need to come forward
and explain what good the  bonfire does for the area and its people,"he
said.

"I was interned twice and as a former internee these bonfires certainly
do not represent any marking of that time in our history.

"They should stop and the people encouraging them need to explain to the
community why they continue to do so."

Fellow Councillor Conor Maskey, who organised the removal of bonfire
material from the area a number of times in recent weeks, blamed
republican hardliners for the trouble.  A banner bearing his name was
reportedly hung from an anti-internment bonfire in New Lodge.

"Their only contribution to life in the New Lodge is destruction,
facilitating attacks on republican ex prisoners and giving young people
criminal records," he said.

"The banner with my name on it has only made me more determined than
ever to continue the work of trying to make life better for the people
of the New Lodge area."

PROTEST

The following day, the James Connolly republican society in Belfast
called a protest against internment on Black mountain, in which a giant
'END INTERNMENT' sign was erected on the mountain overlooking the west
of the city. A similar protest, against the royal visit last month, was
attacked by a loyalist mob.

"Internment 21st century style is not only still in use, its use is now
much more draconian than at any time in the past or in any other country
in the world," the group said in a statement.

"The present day English administrator, Owen Paterson, not only deprives
Irish citizens of their liberty without recourse to a judicial process.
In the cases of Marian Price and Martin Corey this administrator has
also over-ruled the decision of two high court judges who decreed that
they had no charges to answer and should be released immediately.

"Such injustices can only exist when 'good men and women' do nothing."


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>>>>>> Sinister agenda seen behind Belfast evacuation order


Securocrats have been strongly criticised for a ham-fisted attempt to
evacuate over a hundred homes in west Belfast last week -- before
declaring that a claimed rocket attack on a PSNI police landrover,
which prompted the evacuations, had been a hoax.

Residents of the Glen Road area in west Belfast refused to follow PSNI
orders to move to evacuation centres, forcing the PSNI to back down.

Most just refused to leave. And hours later, the cordon was lifted and
those residents who left were allowed to return.

A gun attack by a breakaway IRA group using the name 'Oglaigh na
hEireann' was mounted on the PSNI in the strongly republican area two
weeks ago. Almost a week later, a claim was made to a Belfast newspaper
that the group had simultaneously launched a rocket attack.

Still images of a video of the alleged attack were published, although
the video recording itself never emerged into the public domain.

Over a day after the report came out, there were surprising and
conflicting statements from the PSNI, who announced the evacuation of a
giant area at the top of the Glen Road.  Hundreds of residents were
shocked to find they had been ordered to take refuge in a community
shelter for three days.

The evacuation was ostensibly ordered to allow an inch-by-inch search
for the unexploded rocket -- but it was almost immediately followed by a
police announcement that no rocket attack had in fact taken place.

The evacuation was reminiscent of previous episodes of community
punishment on nationalist areas in the aftermath of IRA attacks.

Thankfully, most local people refused to pay heed to the PSNI's dire
warnings.

Workmen at a building site near the scene of the security operation,
which included a bomb disposal robot, continued as normal, as did a
nearby summer scheme.

Residents could be seen out and about walking dogs and chatting with
neighbours.  Some householders, living just 200 yards from where police
were centring their operation, just sat outside their homes.

There was a widespread suspicion that a British security agenda, not
public safety, was responsible for the evacuation order.

One resident, who did not want to be named, criticised the police and
their request for householders to vacate homes for three days.

"They can't force us to go. I don't think there's any reason for it,"
she said.

Some recalled the British 'psy ops' (psychological operations) and
other bizarre actions of British military intelligence which were
common at the height of the conflict.

Another resident, who also did not want to be identified, said she was
refusing to leave the home she shares with her father, who has dementia,
disabled brother and two dogs.

The woman, who described the PSNI's handling of the situation as
"diabolical", said they planned to keep her pets "in a van for three
days'.

She and her family said: "If they were that worried, why didn't they do
something about it yesterday and not this morning, all of a sudden?"


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>>>>>> Nationalist cities forced to host sectarian festivals
  

Concerns have been expressed over major Protestant marching season
events planned for the overwhelmingly nationalist cities of Derry and
Newry this month.

Residents of Derry are already leaving in droves ahead of the year's
largest loyalist parade, which is forced on the city every August.

An anticipated 15,000 members of the Apprentice Boys organisation --
accompanied by 140 'kick the Pope' bands -- are expected in the city
tomorrow [Saturday] for an event which is detested by locals.

Every year, residents criticise the effective closure of the city as a
result of the parade.  Dressed in red, white and blue, or in suits and
bowler hats, the marchers walk through and around Derry to mark a
medieval Protestant battle victory, 'the siege of Derry'.

However, unlike the openly sectarian Orange Order, the Apprentice Boys
organisation has broadly engaged in talks with nationalist groups, and
serious disorder has been avoided in recent years.

THREE DAYS OF MARCHES

In Newry, another sectarian "show of strength" is planned, with three
days of unionist marches at the end of this month.

From Friday 24th August until Sunday 26th August, a total of five
unionist parades will take place with over 3,000 participants and 50
bands taking over the streets of Newry.

Thousands of unionist bandsmen and supporters will be bussed into the
County Armagh city from across the Six Counties for what eirgi said was
"triumphalism" and "a sectarian coat-trailing exercise".

Stephen Murney, the local spokesperson for the socialist republican
party, said, "Just last month we had thousands of unionists accompanied
by dozens of bands descending on Newry leaving the area a virtual ghost
town.

"Band members and participants shouted insults at local people observing
and even rushed to attack a local photographer.

"A massive security operation sealed Newry off and most people couldn't
go about their daily business. I have no doubt that this upcoming
sectarian ritual will mean the same for the nationalist people of
Newry."

Murney continued, "Before and after the 12th of July our party were
inundated with complains from local people who are sick and tired of
this happening time and time again. The fact that this next disruptive
demonstration will take place over a three day period will mean that
many nationalist people in Newry will have to endure an entire weekend
of sectarian intimidation and bigotry."

TOURISTS SAY NO

Meanwhile, the Sinn Fein mayor of Limavady in County Derry has said
there had been no unionist reciprocation to the removal of tricolour
flags in the town earlier this year, which was facilitated by his party.

Mayor Cathal McLaughlin said there were too many unionist flags and
Orange parades in the town, and that it was affecting tourism.

Most recent figures have pointed to a decline in overseas visitor
numbers to the North of 5%.  The decline comes despite the spending of
five million pounds on an advertising campaign.

"The proliferation of unionist flags is a disgrace,"  he said. "This
sends out a menacing signal to tourists whom we are actively trying to
attract."


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>>>>>> UUP inflames nationalists with signs, comments
  

"Welcome to Northern Ireland" road signs have been provocatively raised
in border areas of the North by the Ulster Unionist minister for
regional development, Danny Kennedy.

Kennedy, who has frequently desribed himself as a moderate unionist,
denied the move was intended to be inflammatory.

At least twelve signs were erected this week by the North's road
service, acting under instrution from the Minister.

The development runs counter to peace process efforts to eliminate
obvious indicators of the border between the British-ruled North and
the 26 County state in the South, and may mark a new hardline stance by
the UUP.

Locals have now destroyed at least three of the signs, which Mr Kennedy
claimed were "a point of information".

Referring to those which had been destroyed, Mr Kennedy said: "I'm sure
all political representatives will join me in condemning what is an
illegal act".

Sinn Fein Assembly member Phil Flanagan called on the UUP man to order
the removal of the remaining signs "as soon as possible".

"The erection of these signs has angered many living in border
communities who suffer the negative impact of partitlon on a daily basis
and a large proportion of them are completely opposed to the unnatural
division of Ireland," Mr Flanagan said.

But in a hardening of the unionist position, former UUP leader Tom
Elliott was reported as saying the only 'real victims' of the conflict
were those killed by the IRA.

The comments, which were reported in a weekly newspaper, provoked an
angry response from SDLP Assembly member Patsy McGlone who called them
"crass and insenstive" and asked that they be withdrawn immediately.

"Tom Elliott's remarks are so abhorrent as to be breathtak ing and he
has d isgraced his  office as a public representative, but more
grievously than that, he has dishonoured the  memory of over 3,000 men,
women and children on all sides of our society whose  lives were lost in
the Troubles.

"He must withdraw his comments immediately and apologise to the families
of all those  he publicly dismissed as, in effect, worthless."


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>>>>>> Murder of West Belfast boy to be investigated


The brother of a Ballymurphy boy who was shot in the back by a British
Army sniper 35 years ago has appealed for witnesses to come forward as
the Historical Enquiries Team (HET) looks into his death. Paul 'Jason'
McWilliams was just 16 years old and on temporary release from St
Patrick's Training School on the Glen Road to attend his grandmother's
funeral when he was killed near Corry's timber yard close to his home in
Springhill Avenue on August 9, 1977 - the week of Queen Elizabeth's
silver jubilee.

The circumstances of young Paul's death sparked controversy at the time.
A statement issued by the British Army shortly after the killing claimed
he had been throwing petrol bombs near Corry's timber tard during
serious rioting and that he was shot after being warned twice by British
soldiers. That's a claim strongly denied by the McWilliams family.

In response to that statement, Sinn Fein claimed they had two
eyewitnesses who said there had been no "serious rioting" in the area at
the time of Paul's death and that the teenager had been shot in the back
as he tried to get through a gap in a fence while attempting to escape
British Army bullets. The eyewitnesses also claim that, contrary to the
statement issued by the army, no warnings were ever given to Paul before
he was shot in the back.

Speaking this week about his brother's killing, Thomas McWilliams, who
was only 10 when Paul was killed, appealed for anyone with information
on the murder to come forward.

"Paul's nickname was Jason, and he was a very popular lad and well liked
in the area where we lived," recalls Thomas, one of 11 children in the
McWilliams family.

"Ballymurphy in the 1970s was dominated by army bases and
fortifications. There were constant armed foot patrols and raids on
people's homes. Like a lot of young people there at that time, Paul was
always being stopped, searched and abused by British soldiers, so that's
why he joined the IRA. A year before his death he was arrested for
rioting and convicted of riotous behaviour and was placed in St
Patrick's Training School."

On the death of his grandmother in early August 1977, Paul was given
temporary release from the training centre to attend her funeral, but
stayed out an extra day to take part in the annual commemoration events
to mark the introduction of internment.

"He had been due to go back to St Pat's on August 8," said Thomas, "but
he stayed out an extra day. In those days the commemoration usually
began with the lighting of bonfires followed by the banging of binlids
and the blowing of whistles at the stroke of 4am. The protestors would
then march to the army fortifications and street violence usually
erupted between the soldiers and local youths."

After the post-protest rioting had subsided, Paul was making his way
back to the family's Springhill Avenue home with his brother
Christopher.

"As they were walking a single shot rang out from a soldier from the
Light Infantry Regiment positioned in Corry's timber yard, hitting Paul
in the back," said Thomas.

"When the ambulance arrived to take Paul to the Royal it was stopped at
the bottom of the Whiterock Road by a party of RUC members and army
officers who checked the vehicle, delaying it for several minutes. Paul
died before he got to hospital."

Thomas said he can still hear his mother's scream when she was told her
son was dead.

"It's a memory I will take to my grave," he said. "I can just remember
the feeling of pure and utter sadness. Our father had just died the year
before from lung cancer. My mother had just buried her mother so she was
finding it difficult enough to cope with my father's death and now she
had to bury her mother and son. She was never the same after he died and
she often blamed herself for it happening - she used to say if only she
had made him go back to St Pat's on August 8 he would never have been
killed. She suffered greatly at the hands of the British, even before
Paul died, as she had four sons and a daughter interned without trial."

The 1979 inquest into Paul's death returned an open verdict.

"None of the soldiers involved in the death attended the inquest, a
military representative just read out statements from them," said
Thomas.

"None of the clothes Paul was wearing when he was killed were ever
returned to us, nor were his possessions, despite our requests."

Around a decade later, the family's emotional wounds were reopened with
the publication of a book recalling the experiences of British Army
personnel during the conflict in the North.

In the 1998 book, 'Brits Speak Out', a former member of the Light
Infantry Regimen, Bob Harker, who was stationed in Ballymurphy at the
time of Paul's death, referred to the teenager's murder in his
contribution to the book.

"He [Bob Harker] revealed the scene inside the barracks after Paul was
shot," said Thomas. "He said a British soldier who was a member of his
section had been shot dead on the same morning as Paul in retaliation
for his death.

"The regimental colonel visited the barracks shortly afterwards and was
wearing full ceremonial uniform as the Queen was to the visit that week
as part of her silver jubilee tour and they were toasting her arrival.
Bob said the colonel's opening remarks to the soldiers were, 'Well,
chaps, it's a sad thing we have lost one of our soldiers today, but we
had a good kill this morning.'"

Since last September, Thomas has been engaging with the HET in its
reinvestigation of his brother's killing.

"It has been a very emotional and tiring process," said Thomas.

"Paul was shot on the last jubilee visit of the Queen in August 1977 -
35 years ago this week - and he was shot in the back with his hands in
the air, according to his post mortem records. The Ministry of Defence
and the British Army claimed he was throwing petrol bombs yet not one
shred of evidence links Paul to any petrol bombing.

"He was just five feet two inches tall and seven stone in weight when he
was killed, so anyone with eyes in their head could clearly see they
were looking at a boy and not a man."

Thomas said nothing would give his family more satisfaction than to see
the soldier responsible for the shooting of Paul brought to justice.

"We've been able to see the inquest records and the statements given by
eight soldiers at the time of the inquest and they all sound like they
come from the same person," said Thomas.

"It turns my stomach that they have been able to hide behind the
Ministry of Defence for 35 years for what they have done, with no proper
action taken against them.

"Currently the HET is re-interviewing seven of the soldiers involved,
but the solicitor for the one who pulled the trigger has stated he is
not medically fit to give a statement. The HET will challenge this."


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>>>>>> British soldier's message of hate


The SDLP has said a serving British soldier has desecrated the memory of
those who died on Bloody Sunday by posting an offensive slogan on the
internet.

The Royal Irish Regiment (RIR) soldier's Facebook page - which has since
been removed - included a Parachute Regiment emblem with the words:
"F*** Bloody Sunday' above it.

SDLP victims spokesperson Colum Eastwood says the serving soldier - who
he named - should be dismissed from the British Army "without delay."

The Foyle Assembly member, who is a member of the Bloody Sunday Trust,
said: "I have seen photographs of this man's Facebook page and the
disgusting banner he has put across the top as a 'cover image'.

"Prime Minister David Cameron has described the actions of forces on
Bloody Sunday as 'unjustified and unjustifiable' and I regard this image
in the same vein.

"To trample on the memory of those who were shot dead while trying to
protect civil rights for all, and to do so in such an offensive and
craven manner is, frankly, abhorrent, and makes me sick to my stomach.

"This cannot even be called thoughtlessness as posting anything on your
Facebook page requires a conscious decision.

"The families of Bloody Sunday at the very least deserve a full and
unequivocal apology and I hope that will be forthcoming immediately.

"However, if the Ministry of Defence want to prove that they agree with
David Cameron's assessment of the forces' actions on Bloody Sunday, they
should dismiss this man from the army without delay."

In a statement, a spokesman for the British government said: "The views
expressed by this individual are categorically not those of the Army nor
the Ministry of Defence."

In March of this year, a Protestant teenager in Derry created a
controversy after he posted an equally shocking Facebook comment about
Bloody Sunday.

After Derry City's soccer defeated their Linfield rivals, Christopher
Middleton wrote; "They my have won tonight but we can take concilation
in the fact the Paras beat them 13-0 on a Sunday many years ago ;-)"

Middleton, who's from the nationalist cityside, said he had been forced
to leave his home over the controversy, but later apologised for the
comment.


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>>>>>> Feature: Operation Motorman - organised murder


July 31 2012 marked the 40th anniversary of Operation Motorman, the
British army's invasion of the "no-go" areas in Derry and Belfast.

The trigger for the mass invasion - the largest mobilisation of British
troops since Suez - is widely believed to have been the Bloody Friday
bombings by the IRA in Belfast 10 days earlier, which killed nine people
and injured over 100.

However, the no-go areas - in particular Free Derry, which had been in
place since 1969 - had long been a source of embarrassment to the
British government.

Operation Motorman began six months almost to the day after Bloody
Sunday which saw members of the Parachute Regiment murder 14 unarmed
civilians during a civil rights march on January 30.

It has been suggested that Bloody Sunday was an earlier abortive attempt
to retake the nationalist areas of the Bogside, Brandywell and Creggan.

In the days before July 30, about 4,000 extra troops were brought into
Northern Ireland. Involved were almost 22,000 soldiers - including 27
infantry and two armoured battalions - aided by 5,300 soldiers from the
local Ulster Defence Regiment (UDR).

Bulldozers and Centurion tanks were deployed on the streets of Derry to
smash through the barricades, and in an extraordinary move Royal Navy
battleships were moored off the coast of Donegal ready to shell the
Bogside.

The operation began at about 4am on July 31 and lasted for several
hours. Two people - an innocent teenage civilian and an unarmed
Provisional IRA volunteer - were shot dead.

The teenager was 15-year-old Daniel Hegarty. He was shot along with his
two cousins as they walked along Creggan Heights in Derry.

The boys had gone out to see the tanks and watch the operation unfold.
Daniel was shot twice in the head from close range by a member of the
Royal Scots Regiment and was killed outright.

One of his cousins, Christopher Hegarty, survived being struck in the
head by a bullet.

Nineteen-year-old Provisional IRA member Seamus Bradley was shot,
according to the military account, as he stood on the bough of a tree in
Bishop's Field close to Central Drive.

The soldier who shot him claimed that Bradley had been armed at the
time. But when a group of soldiers arrived to arrest him no weapon was
found.

Bradley was taken away in a Saracen armoured personnel carrier and
apparently bled to death in custody. It is alleged that he may have been
tortured. An autopsy found that Bradley had been shot "at least four
times."

On the day Hegarty and Bradley were killed, cabinet secretary Sir Burke
Trend wrote to prime minister Edward Heath stating that "no more than 32
rounds were fired by the army during the operation. Five gunmen were
seen to be hit and two killed, and two wounded bodies were recovered."

In the House of Lords the same day, secretary of state for defence Lord
Carrington stated: "The information I have about the two that were
killed is that one was 19 and the other 16 (sic), and that one was
apparently in possession of arms while the other is suspected of being a
gunman."

This clearly labels Hegarty as a gunman and the smear was compounded in
June 2007, 35 years later, when the Ministry of Defence (MoD) released a
document that described Hegarty as a "terrorist" and claimed that he was
armed.

Following pressure from campaigners and the Hegarty family, the MoD
withdrew the claim and apologised for the document, accepting that
"Daniel was innocent and that the reference to him as a terrorist was
inaccurate."

No-one has ever been charged with the killing of Hegarty. An initial
inquest in 1973 recorded an open verdict.

However, a new inquest was ordered in 2009 after a review of the case by
the historical inquiries team found that the original Royal Ulster
Constabulary investigation had been hopelessly inadequate and dreadful."

In December 2011 an inquest jury unanimously found that the 15-year-old
had posed no risk when he was shot and that none of the soldiers
involved attempted to "approach the injured youths to either search them
or provide medical assistance."


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>>>>>> Feature: Address to hungerstrike commemoration


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The full text of the address by Sinn Fein Assembly member Michelle
O'Neill at the party's annual hunger strike commemoration in Dungiven,
County Derry, last weekend.
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A chairde agus a chomradaithe,

It is difficult to express in words the immense honour, pride and
privilege that I feel today, being asked to speak at this commemoration.

It is especially important for me as a Clonoe woman to be here in the
heart of O'Cathain country. And might I add, it is great to see the
Derry 'wans' admitting they need to listen to Tyrone now and again!!

But, in all seriousness, the rest of our island could learn a thing or
two from the courage and consistency of County Derry down through the
generations - the county which gave us five of the ten Hunger Strikers
in 1981.

It is especially fitting to be here in the homeland of Kevin Lynch.  He
was born in Park village, just out the road.  He played here as a child,
went to school here, learned his skills with a caman, a sliotar and a
gaelic ball in these fields.  It was here that he grew into manhood and
became part of the struggle, before being captured by the Brits.  This
area, like the homelands of all the Hunger-Strikers, has a special place
in Republicanism.

So it is with a spirit of comradeship and a strength of unity that all
of us gather here today. I want to particularly welcome the relatives
and families of the Hunger-Strikers, and those of all our patriot dead.
You were, and are, a constant inspiration to my generation.

I was only four years of age in the summer of 1981. Many of my relatives
and friends, and my current colleagues and comrades, were older and
active during that time - some on the streets, some on the blanket, some
on the run. Within this collective memory rests all our living history
as activists for freedom. And we should never, ever forget what we came
through.

Fathers carried coffins; mothers battled Brits; sons stood on protests;
daughters took batons; uncles drove hearses; aunts gathered communities;
cousins wore blankets; marchers faced bullets; friends endured hell;
heroes gave their lives.

No role was too big or too small; no one was too old or too young; no
part was better or worse; each action was a vital step in our movement's
collective march of freedom.

The importance of political prisoners has never been confined to one
generation of our freedom struggle. Writing in The Four Glorious Years,
David Hogan recalled:

"From 1917 to 1921 the prison struggles gave the people new fortitude.
That was particularly so about Terence McSwiney's death. It brought the
spirit of Ireland's resistance to the very ends of the earth; an
unquenchable devotion to liberty pitted against the perfect war machine
of a great Power."

And so it was sixty years later, as hundreds of political prisoners
stood in blankets on the frontline of the freedom struggle in Long Kesh
and Armagh; where they honed their skill and ingenuity as political
activists and thinkers; where some became elected to parliaments; and
where the demands for Irish sovereignty were politicised and
internationalised as never before.

Hanging on the wall of the Sinn Fein office in Coalisland is a poem that
gives voice to that vision of freedom. It looks down on the work that we
do every day. Sometimes I take the time to think about its importance.
It was written by Bobby Sands and is called the Rythmn of Time.

Its theme is internationalist, egalitarian and universal.

The final verse declares:

It lights the dark of this prison cell, It thunders forth its might, It
is the 'undauntable thought', my friend, That thought that says 'I'm
right!'

Its strikes me that only something incredibly powerful could have lit up
the dark of the prison cells inhabited by our political prisoners during
the long decades of war - whether in Ireland, Britain, Europe or
America.

Only a flame of freedom with unending reach, with unbending power could
have shone any hope onto the darkness of the Blanket Protest and
Hunger-Strikes.

Only a beacon of hope with unlimited potential could have motivated our
men and women activists to keep turning the pages of history in the
bleakest of moments.

Only a torch of history which has been handed down over centuries could
ever explain why all of us, at this rally today, still stand ready to
deliver the Irish Republic for which our predecessors fought and
struggled and died.

Thirty years ago, from the ashes of Britain's failed criminalisation
policy rose the phoenix of a risen Republican people, led by Sinn Fein's
determination and dedication to achieve freedom in our lifetimes.

Sinn Fein is now the third largest party on this island. We are the only
Republican movement. We are the only Republicans with a strategy to
bring about Irish unity.  We are the only collective of activists
carrying the glowing baton of national freedom and national
reconciliation based on a framework of human rights, social justice and
equality.

And no-one should be under any illusion: it is this generation of
struggle which will reach the finish line of freedom - through our
sustained focus on direction and strategy, and our relentless exhaustion
of political and democratic tactics.

These are the undauntable thoughts, my friends, that lead us in our work
today, that fill me with constant determination, and that light the road
to our new Republic.

Of course, there remains some distance for us to travel. There are still
injustices to right, inequalities to address and a nation's wounds to
bind up.

Some of the injustices relate to the north's prison regime, including
prisoners who oppose Sinn Fein and the peace process. Sinn Fein
representatives have regularly visited the prisons and met some of the
prisoners. We will continue to demand that the British government,
Dublin government, six-county Department of Justice, and others, should
address the issues being raised on humanitarian grounds. In particular,
I want to take this opportunity to reiterate Sinn Fein's consistent call
for the immediate release of Marian Price, Gerry McGeough and Martin
Corey.

It is anyone's right to disagree with Sinn Fein's political and peace
strategies, and our practical promotion of the 1916 Proclamation and
1919 Declaration of Independence. I will absolutely defend that
political right.

But I will not condone their apolitical actions.  They have no
Republican strategy and no political programme - and clearly some of
them have no politics either.  They are united only in their opposition
to the Sinn Fein strategy and in their desire to reverse political
progress.  They fear the onward rise of Sinn Fein and only they can
explain why.

Mindless militarism, adventurism and egotism had no place in the Irish
freedom struggle in 1916, in 1971, in 1981, and it has no place in this
same struggle that we carry forward in Ireland today.  Those who engage
in such actions define themselves - not as political activists, not as
freedom fighters, not as Irish Republicans, but as the late Brian Keenan
accurately described them : "mindless gunmen for nationalism".

Those opposing the peace process with pointless violence should remember
the challenge of James Connolly in 1897: "When you talk of freeing
Ireland, do you only mean the chemical elements which compose the soil
of Ireland? Or is it the Irish people you mean?"

Gerry Adams, shortly after he became the Sinn Fein president in 1983,
developed that theme further when he said: "We cannot free Ireland
unless the people of Ireland want to be free."

I want you all to think carefully about that statement: "We cannot free
Ireland unless the people of Ireland want to be free."

This places a huge onus on Republicans to address the realities of
struggle and society as they exist today. Achieving true freedom will
require the involvement of all the people of Ireland in the process,
including our Unionist neighbours.

There is now a real, viable and effective democratic and political road
to Irish freedom and equality, down which the IRA walked seven years
ago. The IRA has left the political stage. I would call on every
Republican to follow Sinn Fein and support our political project. Those
who are promising young, and sometimes vulnerable, people nothing more
than imprisonment, injury or death should desist and disband.

The current phase of the peace process is moving towards a critical
moment, where the new dawn of national reconciliation can begin to rise
on a hurt society still scarred by the legacy of our conflict.

Our task today as Irish Republicans includes cultivating the rough
middle ground to plant the seeds of a healthy and harmonious
relationship between the Orange and Green cultures; nurturing a new
nation in which all traditions are proudly valued, based on equality,
dignity and mutual respect.

This will require us all to be brave and bold; to break new ground,
shape new agendas, and explore new thinking. It will demand that each of
us becomes willing to hold the type of 'uncomfortable conversations'
which Sinn Fein's leadership is currently conducting with members of the
Unionist and Loyalist community.

This phase will not be easy. There are many legacy issues. But our
generation of Republicans has never been afraid to show leadership, try
new tactics, or develop new approaches. The prize of national
reconciliation is too important for us to stand back from the
opportunity we now have. We must move onto the ground before us,
otherwise those who oppose change will enter the arena of debate to try
to maintain the old order and sustain the status quo.

There are some within the Unionist political class whose raison d'etre
is stopping change. Their system of division, based on inequality and
sectarian segregation, remains the cornerstone of partition. Irish
Republicanism is founded on the opposite qualities of equality and
unity. Let that be our message to our Unionist neighbours in the time
ahead as we talk to them about the new nation we are building.

The British government also has a massive role to play. It could start
by butting out of our country once and for all! Disband the NIO. Devolve
outstanding powers. And take the Spooks back to London!

In the immediate term, the British government, and Irish government must
fulfil their outstanding commitments to the peace process. They must
prepare for, and become persuaders for Irish unity.

The British must disclose the truth about their dirty war. They must now
call an immediate border poll, so that the people of this country can
determine their own future. And they must realise that the Agreement's
power-sharing, all-Ireland and equality provisions won't be reversed.

More and more Unionists see the good-sense and inevitability of Irish
unity.  We must, in the time ahead, harness that common-sense to build
the policies of unity upon which all of us can rely in a new Ireland.

Across this island, the old establishment's Gombeen greed is leaving
legacies of pain. These legacies are punishing the infants of today with
the unrivalled political corruption of the Celtic Tiger's gangsters and
banksters. In the north, we are faced with fighting against ruthless
British Tory economic policy. This island is once again being robbed of
our young people through emigration, and those who stay are being robbed
of a future by unemployment.

I want to praise the current national campaign of Sinn Fein Republican
Youth entitled 'No Jobs, No Future, No Way', and would call on everyone
to support it.

Sinn Fein's consistent demand for a new way of doing things and a
different solution to old problems is based on Irish citizens having
control of our own affairs. This simple logic of self-determination is
increasingly winning public support through the 32 counties. To
paraphrase the banner of the Irish Citizen Army - in the years to come,
'we must serve neither Britain nor bond-holders - but Ireland'!

For make no mistake, Sinn Fein's rise in the south isn't a passing tide
of opposition. Rather, it is an unstoppable sea of change, with more and
more citizens motivated by our message, encouraged by our activism, and
impressed by our integrity.

We must ensure that these pillars of progress - our message, our
activism and our integrity - are strengthened and widened in the time
ahead. And if each of us committed to bringing one new member into Sinn
Fein in the time ahead - just one new member- then imagine the scale of
challenge and speed of change we could unleash against the old order.

So, a chairde, our roadmap is clear. Our destination is certain. Our
tactics are set. Our confidence is well-founded on our convictions. Our
vision is stoked by our values: independence; justice; peace; equality;
a new nation based on authentic national reconciliation between Orange
and Green; and the end of the British state's jurisdiction on this
island.

And we must never, ever forget that shining over all of these values is
the eternal flame of freedom which once lit the dark of the prison
cells, endured over three decades ago by Bobby Sands, Francis Hughes,
Raymond McCreesh, Patsy O'Hara, Joe McDonnell, Martin Hurson, Kevin
Lynch, Tom McElwee, Kieran Doherty and Mickey Devine and their other
comrades on Hunger-Strike and hundreds of protesting political prisoners
in Armagh and the H-Blocks. And by Frank Stagg and Michael Gaughan.

So leaving here today, remember that, with this flame, we will create
the new Ireland which all of our children deserve to enjoy.

Under this flame, we will face down those on any side who would seek to
drive us back into the tragedy of war or brutality of conflict.

Under this flame, we will stand together, campaign together, march
together, organise together, work together, face all-comers together,
all bound by an unbreakable spirit of comradeship and unbending strength
of unity.

Under this flame, we will ignite "the undauntable thought that says I'm
right", that says we're right : right to place equality at our core;
right to tackle injustice in our midst; right to build a future with our
neighbours; right to raise the banner of justice and peace for all;
right to end the outrage of partition; and right to fight - through
every political and democratic tactic we have - for the ultimate prize
of national freedom and national reconciliation across this wonderful
and beautiful island of Ireland.

Go raibh mile, mile maith agaibh. Beirigi bua.