Cumann na Saoirse Náisiúnta

National Irish Freedom Committee

 Des Dalton Speaks at O Conaill Commemoration


RSF give leadership to a new generation    
1ú Eanáir/January 2010

Speaking at the annual Dáithí Ó Conaill commemoration in Glasnevin cemetery, Dublin on January 1 the President of Republican Sinn Féin Des Dalton set out the challenges and opportunities, which face Republican Sinn Féin in the New Year.

The following is the full text of his oration:

“The forces of history as they work themselves out tend to throw up people capable not only of recognising but more importantly seizing the moment. Such people are not content to merely witness history as it unfolds. Rather they are determined to take their place on the stage of history and play their part to the full. Dáithí Ó Conaill was such a man.

“Ó Conaill in 1969/70 was a key member of a leadership who realised: ‘There is a tide in the affairs of men. Which, taken at the flood, leads on to fortune’. With his lifelong friend and comrade Ruairí Ó Brádaigh he ensured that the Republican Movement was prepared to take the tide of revolution at full flood.

“By their actions they ensured the historic Republican Movement was not diverted from the path of revolutionary Irish Republicanism. For despite his youth he knew from his profound knowledge of Irish history that any diversion from this path led only to division and final absorption into the apparatus of British rule in Ireland.

“Dáithí Ó Conaill came from a strong Cork Republican family. His uncle Michael O’Sullivan (17) along with five of his comrades was bayoneted to death by British Crown forces in March 1921. Dáithí’s first active involvement in the Republican Movement came during the 26-County Local Elections in 1955 when at the age of 17 he joined Sinn Féin. By the end of the following year he was on active service as a Volunteer in the Irish Republican Army serving as an organiser under GHQ staff in Co Fermanagh.

“On January 1 1957 he was Second-in Command of the Pearse Column during the attack on Brookeborough RUC barracks which resulted in the deaths of two of his comrades Fearghal Ó hAnluáin, Co Monaghan and Seán Sabhat, Co Limerick. Four others were wounded including the column commander. This young man of 18 years took command and led a successful withdrawal back across the border – evading 400 RUC, B-Specials, two helicopters and the British army - where they were forced to retire. But as the historian Bowyer Bell pointed out: ‘not before the arms had been safely dumped’. From there he found himself in Mountjoy and the Curragh Concentration camp from where he escaped with his friend and comrade Ruairí Ó Brádaigh in September 1958.

“He returned to active service and for a period was Director of Operations. He was critically wounded in an ambush by the RUC and B-Specials in Arboe, Co Tyrone on the shores of Lough Neagh in November 1959. He made his escape but was forced to seek help because of loss of blood and his weakened condition. Captured, he was sentenced to eight years which he served in Belfast’s Crumlin Road Jail. Following his release in 1963 he reported back to active service.

“In 1969/70 again made his talents available to the Republican Movement. Ruairí Ó Brádaigh said of him he possessed the ‘ablest mind in the Republican Movement for over 20 years’. The sheer breadth of his ability and intellect was evidenced by his service to the All-Ireland Republic both militarily and politically. A lasting monument to his contribution to the freedom struggle is ÉIRE NUA. He had a central role in framing this historic document and remained a tireless advocate of ÉIRE NUA right up to his death in 1991.

“Dáithí Ó Conaill never equivocated on what was the cause of the war in Ireland or what was required to deliver a just and lasting peace for all of the Irish people. Speaking in Belfast at Easter 1973 he said: ‘Today, the central issue in the war is one of conflict between Ireland’s right to freedom and England’s determination to keep us in subjection. All other issues are subordinate to this basic point. There can be no compromise on the fundamental issue as to who should rule Ireland: the British Parliament or the Irish people. We have had 800 years of British ineptitude in ruling Ireland; we have never known rule by the Irish, of the Irish, for the Irish. Until we do, we shall never enjoy peace and stability in our land.’

“The coming year presents us all with huge challenges but also opportunities. The two fronts on which it is essential that we engage in 2010 are political and economic.

“Last year and in recent days events on the ground in the Six Counties testified to the fact that British rule in Ireland will be met with resistance. The attacks on British crown forces and the wave of repression and resistance, which followed are evidence to the reality that the nature of British occupation in Ireland has not changed but neither has the attitude of a section of the Irish people.

“The young people in the Six Counties who took on the forces of the British Crown were dismissed as ‘ A-political thugs’ or merely representing an ‘anti-social’ sub youth culture. We know what the truth is. These young people represent a new undefeated generation prepared to take on British rule in Ireland. They are young people simply taking their place in the latest phase of the historic struggle for Irish freedom.

“It is our duty in Sinn Féin –the only political organisation representing the revolutionary Irish Republican tradition - to give political expression and leadership to this new generation.

“The coming year is also likely to see an intensification of the normalisation of British rule and partition. Speaking on RTÉ television on Monday night (December 28) the 26-County President Mary McAleese signalled the possibility of a visit to the 26 Counties by the Queen of England. We in Sinn Féin equally signal our intention to oppose such a visit. 

“Mary McAleese’s use of the word ‘collegial’ in describing 26-County relations with the British state is worthy of note. The Concise Oxford English Dictionary 11th revised edition 2006 defines collegial as meaning: ‘belonging to or relating to shared responsibility.’ Or alternatively as one of a number of colleges belonging to the same university. This use of such language is a significant pointer as to the thinking of the political establishment in the 26-County State and how they view their relationship with Britain.

“At this time we are also conscious of the Republican prisoners in both Portlaoise and Maghaberry. We extend them our greetings and pledge them our solidarity. Support for the Republican prisoners in Maghaberry in their fight for political status is vital in the coming year. By denying British attempts to ‘criminalise’ them the prisoners in Maghaberry are engaged in a battle to deny the British Government’s criminalisation of the Irish people’s historic struggle for national independence.

“We must recognise like James Connolly: ‘If you remove the English army to-morrow and hoist the green flag over Dublin Castle, unless you set about the organisation of the Socialist Republic your efforts would be in vain.’

“A war is being waged on working people globally. Here the 26-County administration faced with a choice between taxing the rich or taking from the marginalised and vulnerable, have chosen to put their hands in the pockets of the poorest. Employers and the state are intent on rolling back any advance made by workers over the course of the last century.

“In the face of all this a weak and reformist trade union leadership were deliberately humiliated and wrong-footed by the Dublin administration in their vain attempts to lay the basis for yet another so-called ‘Partnership Agreement’.

“Tinkering at the edges of a discredited and failed social and economic system is not enough. Real revolutionary political and economic change is demanded. In its obituary of Dáithí Ó Conaill SAOIRSE pointed out he ‘viewed the Republican Movement not as a political party, but as the main catalyst of progressive forces to achieve Irish Freedom.’  It is the role, which we must live up to.

“We would do well to heed the advice of Connolly given to those intent on building a national movement over a century ago: ‘It must demonstrate to the people of Ireland that our nationalism is not merely a morbid idealising of the past, but is also capable of formulating a distinct and definite answer to the problems of the present and a political and economic creed capable of adjustment to the wants of the future.’

“Armed as we are with clearly thought out and radical programme for real political and economic democracy EIRE NUA and SAOL NUA we can take our rightful place in the vanguard of the struggle.

“The All-Republic for which we struggle has to be  – returning to Connolly again – of such a character that: ‘the mere mention of its name would at all times serve as a beacon-light to the oppressed of every land.’

“Just as imperialism is not confined to one country the solidarity in the fight against it must also be international. Over the coming year we must continue to develop our role in the international struggle against imperialism.

“We extend our greetings to all engaged in the noble quest for national liberation. We face a common enemy but also share the common goal of securing and defending the inalienable rights common to all peoples and nations.

“Our work is clearly marked out for us. It is our duty to bring to the task all our energies and abilities. This is the most fitting tribute we can pay Dáithí Ó Conaill and all those who lie in this pantheon of our patriot dead. ‘Life springs from death; and from the graves of patriot men and women spring living nations.’”

Ends.

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