Hundreds of republicans and socialists gathered in Belfast’s Milltown cemetery on Monday [April 9] to mark the 96th anniversary of the 1916 Easter Rising.
The crowd was joined by the Volunteers Patricia Black & Frankie Ryan Memorial Flute Band and the Pollok & Thornliebank Republican Flute Band as they made their way from the cemetery gates to the Harbinson plot in the heart of Milltown.
The commemorative event was chaired by éirígí’s John McCusker, who spoke of the importance of Easter as a time to remember the sacrifices of the past and to recommit to the struggle now and into the future. Paraphrasing the Irish-born socialist and union organiser ‘Mother’ Mary Jones, McCusker urged the 800-strong crowd to “to remember our dead, not only today but always, and for all of us to redouble our efforts to fight like hell for the living.”
Amhrán na bhFiann was then performed by the Pollok & Thornliebank RFB, and the Proclamation of the Irish Republic was read by Armagh ex-prisoner Fionnuala Perry of the Irish Republican Martyrs Commemoration Committee.
Following the lament and a minute’s silence in memory of the dead, wreaths were laid on behalf of the IRMCC, éirígí, republican ex-prisoners, Family and Friends of Republican Prisoners Maghaberry, James Connolly Republican Society, and éirígí Newry.
McCusker then introduced the main speaker of the day. Cathaoirleach éirígí Brian Leeson was unable to attend due to a family bereavement, and condolences were expressed from the platform to Leeson and his family. Daithí Mac an Mháistir of Dublin then gave the main oration.
In his address, Mac an Mháistir declared that Irish freedom could not truly be achieved under capitalism. He said, “While it is important to reflect upon and remember the heroism and sacrifice of those we are gathered here to commemorate, what is required more than anything today is that we recommit to strive & struggle in whatever way we can for the realisation of the Irish Socialist Republic that the Easter Rising in many respects proclaimed. It is for this objective and nothing short of it that Ireland’s pantheon of freedom fighters fought and died throughout the last hundred years.
“Recommitting ourselves to this objective is the only form of homage appropriate to the memory of those who fell in that fateful week in 1916, and in all subsequent periods of struggle for Irish freedom. Ireland is not free, and recommitting ourselves to actively struggling for its freedom is the only logical way to conceive of this objective being realised.”
To read the full text of Mac an Mháistir’s address, click here.
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