West Tyrone Sinn Féin -- Building an Ireland of Equals

Mac Lochlainn delivers main oration at Tyrone County Commemoration

Published: 2 April, 2013

Martin Hurson Memorial Flute band taking part in Sundays parade

Martin Hurson Memorial Flute band taking part in Sundays parade

Tyrone Republicans converged in Carrickmore on Easter Sunday to commemorate Irelands patriot dead. The Commemoration was the centrepiece to a weekend that had seen over 40 commemorative events in honour of Irelands Patriot dead.

Bunting, flags and posters adorned the parade route and all the approach roads to Carrickmore and many homes in the area flew the National Flag.

This year's proceedings commenced with a historical re-enactment of the marriage of Grace Gifford to Joseph Mary Plunkett on the eve of his execution in Kilmainham gaol. The re-enactment concluded with a sequence of tunes from Pomeroy Accordian band which is fittingly named in honour of Joseph Plunkett.

The re-enactment was choreographed by Gerry Cunningham and included local actors taking part along with members of Sinn Féin youth.

The commemoration was attended by 3 marching bands - the Martin Hurson Memorial band, Pomeroy Accordian band, and a band who travelled from Coatsbridge in Scotland and after parading around the town, the proceedings at the towns Garden of Remembrance were chaired by Cllr Sean Begley of the Tyrone Sinn Féin Commemoration Committee.

The main address was given by Donegal TD, Padraig Mc Lochlainn. During a wide ranging speech, Padraig said:

'I am immensely proud to be here in Tyrone, the heartland of Irish Republicanism. You are the true lions of our freedom struggle. From the O' Neills; to Tom Clarke, our 1916 leader; to the 1981 Hunger Strike martyr, Martin Hurson, you have inspired Irish Republicans everywhere to continue the fight.

'The names of dozens of Volunteers and three Sinn Féin members on the Tyrone Roll of Honour, has been read out today. They lost their lives over a twenty year period.

'The War of Independence is hailed as an example of guerilla warfare and resistance against all the odds and indeed it was, but that war lasted two years. The most recent war lasted ten times longer and against even more formidable odds and during that time there were approximately 1,500 IRA operations carried out by IRA units across County Tyrone. That level of unmatched resistance brought with it a terrible sacrifice.

'In towns and villages across Tyrone; places like Clonoe, Ardboe, Galbally, Strabane, Cappagh and Coalisland, to mention but some, these brave volunteers rest in their beloved home soil. They inspire us always.

'Sinn Féin is about realizing the vision of 1916 and making the noble ideals contained in the Proclamation a reality for Irish people.

'Sinn Féin wants a society and an economy run democratically in the interests of all our citizens. We seek to undo the 'carnival of reaction' initiated by the partition of our country. Our vision is of a New Republic for the 21st century which, like the Proclamation of 1916, guarantees religious and civil liberty, equal rights and equal opportunities for all citizens; cherishes all the children of the nation equally and is anti-sectarian.

'This means equal rights for those in same sex relationships, ethnic minorities and those of all creeds and none.

'The new, agreed Ireland we seek to build is inclusive, where all the elements of the Irish nation - including those in this country who regard themselves as British - are comfortable, secure and can find the fullest expression of their identity.

'Partition continues to stunt Ireland's potential - politically, socially and economically. Sinn Féin is the only party with a coherent, realistic strategy for the achievement Irish unity. The Good Friday Agreement - 15 years old this year - is part of a process. The GFA provides for a Poll on Irish unity. Such a Poll provides an opportunity for debate on the future of Ireland.

'The North is clearly no longer an Orange state. Politics across Ireland is in flux. A new Ireland can be what we make it. A Border poll provides an opportunity to begin building a modern, dynamic, new Ireland. Sinn Féin believes that it's time to let the people have their say.

'There are huge challenges posed by the fact that this country witnessed four decades of conflict. Republicans must be to the forefront in tackling the reality and the challenges of a segregated community in the North.

'Republicans seek to build such a process but we need partners. Unionist leaders must end the practice of seeking to appeal to the lowest sectarian denominator. There is no future in that.

Equality and parity of esteem must be accepted as touchstones for the way forward. Such concepts threaten no community but safeguard the rights of all.

'Unionists and republicans working together inside and outside the power sharing institutions can help to lead our society to healing and mutual respect. That is an objective which benefits all citizens from whatever community.

'The Peace Process has brought an end to conflict but it has not undone the casualties inflicted by war or the deep hurt and pain caused to both communities in the North, as well as to many people in the South and people in Britain.

'There is deep hurt and pain within both the republican and unionist communities, and across Ireland and in Britain.

'The only credible way to deal with the past is through an all-embracing, independent, international truth recovery process. Republicans have said time and again that we will co-operate with such a process.

'There remain small, unrepresentative minorities within both the unionist and nationalist communities who are opposed to the principles upon which our peace has been built and who continue in their futile attempts to undermine it. They are the enemy of society as a whole and have nothing to offer. It is also clear from recent events that there is still some way to go in order to remove politics from policing in the North and to make policing fully accountable.

'There are forces working against change but we must persevere. Real, fundamental change to policing, justice cannot be achieved overnight. But it will be achieved.

'Irish citizens North and South are facing economic hardship at this time. Hundreds of thousands of our people are unemployed. Hundreds of thousands of others are struggling to survive. Highly educated, intelligent young people are leaving the country as emigration once again becomes a safety valve for those in power.

'Sinn Féin's focus is on job creation and stimulating the economy. Our approach is based on fair taxes, investing in jobs, debt restructuring and growing the all-Ireland economy.
 It is about protecting public services and those on low and middle incomes.

'In the North Sinn Féin has led the political resistance to Tory cuts and has worked to offset their effects on the most vulnerable. As a result, the Executive has prioritised finding money to maintain frontline services, protect those on lowest incomes and communities which were subject to decades of economic discrimination. It also committed not to increase student fees or introduce water charges.

'Two years ago Sinn Féin went from 5 TDs to 14 TD's and 3 senators. This was a very significant advance for the party. Just last month Francie Molloy successfully defended Martin Mc Guinness's Westminster seat in Mid Ulster in the face of a single unionist candidate.

'That victory sent out a very powerful message that the people of South Derry and East Tyrone stand solidly behind Sinn Féin's peace strategy. It was a tremendous result for our party. Sinn Féin party membership has grown significantly over the last two years and preparations are ongoing for the local and European elections.

'We have a vision and regardless of the ups and downs of opinion polls, and even elections, we will continue to work to deliver a better Ireland. Sinn Féin is not interested in winning seats for the sake of it. We seek political office only in order to bring about change in our country and in the lives of our citizens.

'Of course, as you are well aware, there are reactionaries in the media and in politics in both states who seek to stifle the growth of republicanism and in particular try to thwart the growth of Sinn Féin.

'These are the same voices who lectured republicans on the futility of armed struggle and challenged us to enter what they called 'the democratic process'. The same forces now lecture us when we seek to uphold democracy in order to create equality and human rights and to work towards a united Ireland.

'Republicans are about nation building. We are about laying the foundations for a New Republic - a real republic with social justice and equality at its core. Let us go from here today even more determined to build that republic'.