[Sinn Fein]

27 April 1996

80th Anniversary of 1916 Rising

Address by Chairperson of 26 County Comhairle in Dublin
Joan O'Connor

Eighty years after the rising we gather here to-day to celebrate the event, the people who took part and the legacy that they left us.

We celebrate the courage and determination of those men and women in the face of tremendous odds. We acknowledge their contribution to the struggle for national liberation and we reflect on the significance of that contribution for our struggle to-day.

We gather here to-day as Irish republicans, proud to commemorate an event that continues to shape the future of this island. We do so, not with our heads bowed or apologetic .

There are those who are afraid to commemorate the events of 1916. There are also those who refuse to commemorate the events of 1916 and those who wish to revise, recreate the vision, hopes and aspirations of the men and women of 1916.

To those who wish to redefine our history, to demonise the struggle of 1916 and who have continued to demonise all those who have struggled for freedom we have a simple message -

You may rewrite our history, you may ignore our history and some may wish to drop history completely from the curriculum but our past remains interwined with our future , our hopes and aspirations will continue and grow and will shape and define the future of our island. It is from history that we will build our future and build a new and better Ireland. This is because those who gather here to-day and all Irish republicans share the hopes of the men and women of 1916 for a united , independent Ireland. And while the dreams of 1916 remain to be fulfilled we will continue to reassert the right of the Irish people to self determination.

From Padraig Pearse to Mairead Farrell, from Constance Markievecz to Ed O Brien, the vision of the people of 1916 continues generation after generation.

But as we stand here to-day we clearly state that it is not just about commemorating all those from 1916 to 1996 who have died for our struggle , it is not enough to salute their courage, inspiration and determination. It is not enough to quote the proclamation Easter after Easter. We have the responsibility to translate the language of the proclamation into the reality of to-day. We have the responsibility to build a fitting memorial for those we commemorate. This memorial can only be our determination to build the Ireland that they died for. Build a new and democratic Ireland based on the values and ideals of the 1916 proclamation.

What is as clear to-day as it was in 1916, is that Irish republicans have the courage, imagination and ability to continue the search for a just and lasting peace.

The slogan in 1916 was freedom. The slogan in 1996 remains the same.

We accept no preconditions, no return to stormont rule. No assembly, no convention no forum.

1916 was and remains the unfinished revolution. The intensity, potential and the vision to finish that revolution will be reflected by the efforts of all of us.

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