Irish Freedom Committee

Easter Commemoration Derry – Easter Monday 2004.
Oration Delivered by Marian Price printed in full below.

Easter 2004.

A Chairde,

Fáilte romhaibh agus Beannachtaí na Cásca daoibh go léir.

Fellow republicans and friends, we are gathered here today on this
proud, historic and symbolically potent date in the calendar of the
Irish Republican struggle to pay homage to, and salute, the heroism,
suffering and sacrifices endured by generations of Irish men and
women in pursuit of Liberation and the establishment of a Sovereign,
Independent Irish Republic.

It is at Easter time that Irish Republicans take the opportunity to
reflect with pride upon those momentous events which occurred in our
country in that famous week in 1916.

The political fallout from the sacrifice made by our patriot dead of
that generation had a shattering impact, not just in Ireland, but on
a global scale. The British Empire at that time was one of the most
powerful and ruthless political and military systems the world had
ever seen and a blow struck here was an inspiration to so many other small
nations to throw off the yoke of tyranny.

As Republicans we gather, not merely to foster and cherish the memory
of our fallen predecessors and comrades (important and necessary though
that function must always be) but also to draw strength and
inspiration from their lives and deaths and once again to swear allegiance to the
legacy which they bequeathed to us. From their sacrifice we receive
lessons of history to learn, ideals to espouse and principles of patriotism to uphold.

To be a revolutionary one must first accept that "to gain that which
is worth having, it may be necessary to lose everything" (Bernadette
McAliskey) and certainly the men and women who lie beneath us in the
earth's cold embrace were all too familiar with the hardship and risk
of building a resistance movement in the face of what sometimes appears
to be insurmountable odds.

I say this because, as with all true republicans, we have similarly
faced our difficulties. In the past year once again we have been
forced to face the open aggression of the British and Free State Governments
in their attempts to crush any opposition to their policies by every
means at their disposal. This has included a campaign of harassment
against our members, led by the RUC/PSNI and Special Branch, as well as the
use of the media in order to vilify our cause through a process of black
propaganda and misinformation.

These attempts took a particularly sinister twist when it was
discovered earlier this year that attempts were made by the RUC and the DPP to
influence the Forensic Science Laboratory in the cases of men falsely
accused and remanded in custody on the basis of manufactured forensic
evidence. Scientists were asked to "modify" and "omit" aspects of
their reports and to overlook acts of contamination and blatant malpractice
in order to ensure convictions. This is nothing but flagrant corruption,
an act carried out by corrupt police officers on behalf of a despotic
and corrupt state which, when faced with opposition, is willing to bend,
break and abuse its own laws in order to achieve convictions.

Nevertheless we are told to believe that in the realms of what is
ironically termed the justice system here in the north there is
a `New Beginning to Policing'. In the daily news-sheets the Nationalist
people have been advised by self-appointed and altogether rather dubious
community figures to become part of the much heralded `Policing
Partnership'. We state this clearly and without ambiguity or
diplomatic double-meaning; there will never be an acceptance by true Republicans
of ANY British backed police force anywhere in Ireland and our sole
relationship to any such force will be strictly in terms of absolute,
unremitting and ceaseless resistance.

The so-called new age or "new dawn" that is said to exist ever since
the signing of the Stormont agreement has nothing to do with the kind of
revolutionary Republic that we, or the men and women of 1916

"We see the Six County State as irreformable and believe that full
civil rights, an end to discrimination, unemployment, social deprivation
and sectarianism can only be achieved when we achieve our national
rights – i.e. independence and unity. We are opposed to the Assembly, and
believe it has dangerous potential as a vehicle for a return to Stormont

Not my words, but those of a 1982 Sinn Fein election manifesto.

Contrast this with the situation that the Provisional Movement now
finds itself in, hypnotised by the pomp and ceremony of ministerial
finery – deluding themselves that a Westminster paycheque and
`cross-border bodies for arts and culture' will someday deliver the
Workers' Republic that men and women gave their blood for.

They should remember the prophetic words of Pearse,
"I make the contention that the national demand of Ireland is fixed
and determined; that that demand has been made by every generation; that
we of this generation receive it as a trust from our fathers; that we
are bound by it; that we have not the right to alter it or to abate it by
one jot; and that any undertaking made in the name of Ireland to
accept in full satisfaction of Ireland's claim anything less than the
generations of Ireland have stood for is null and void, binding on
Ireland neither by the law of God nor the law of Nations. Ireland's
historic claim is for separation. Ireland has authorised no man to
abate that claim. The man who accepts as a final settlement anything less
by one fraction of an iota than separation from England will be
repudiated by the new generations".

It is perhaps worth taking a moment to ponder how the countless Irish
martyrs of every generation would have regarded our present day
society, north and south of the British imposed border? What would Pearse and
Connolly think of Ireland at Easter 2004? The overriding legacy which
the 1916 leaders bequeathed was their strength of character, their
courage, commitment, integrity, humanity and principle. They were
poet warriors in the classical sense; men whose very souls were
intertwined with the culture and physicality of a living and breathing nation.

But does the Ireland of today reflect the realisation of their
beliefs and aspirations?

In both the south and north poverty is at chronic levels. There are
shortages in housing, and the gap between rich and poor is ever
widening. Our cherished folk and native culture is swamped by a media
bombardment of capitalist orientated Anglo-American popular values.
In the south the sovereignty of our nation is continuously eroded by the
growing power of the European Union. The Dublin Government offers a
capitalist playground where ministers currently display a feverish
greed for the Washington Dollar – prostituting what was once neutral Irish
soil so that American bombers and troops can go and annihilate
thousands of relatively defenceless but fearlessly defiant people in Iraq and

I have a feeling that those who gave their lives through the fire and
sacrifice of Easter 1916, as well as many whom have shed their blood
since, would have plenty to say about the state of our beleaguered
nation.The martyrs of 1916 "followed the call of freedom through fire and
blood, through poverty, strife and slander; followed it through the
gates of death, gladly proudly, uncomplainingly. Their call to us is
a call of hope and courage. They bid us remember that so long as there
are even a few, be they weak or strong, who will not yield in their
hearts to the English enemy, who will have no traffic with English
trickery, who will keep the light of faith and love and service on
the straight road they walked, so that others may see it and follow where
they led, there is hope for Ireland still, and all the force and
intrigue and treachery in the world cannot crush her down in defeat.
They bid us be strong in our faith, unyielding in our course,
courageous and clean in our actions, loyal to the very last as they were and
content to do our share of the uncompleted task, not caring to whom
will go the honour and the glory."

We might sometimes wonder why the world does not shake at the sheer
injustice of it all. But we must take heart for it is their ideals
and their faith in the future generations that calls us to hope and

My last words today will be quoted from the last letter written by
Liam Mellows to his devoted friends, in the course of which he stated
profoundly:"The Republic stands for truth and honour, for all that is best and
noblest in our race. By truth and honour, by principle and sacrifice
will Ireland be free….She may shrink but her faltering feet will find
the road again. For that road is plain and broad and straight; its
signposts are unmistakable".

Go raibh míle maith agaibh go léir
Beidh an Bua againn.

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