Cumann na Saoirse Náisiúnta

National Irish Freedom Committee

Dinner Report.htm

Annual Michael Flannery Testimonial Awards Dinner Report

On Saturday, April 30th, Cumann Na Saoirse Náisíunta (CnSA) held its 16th Annual Michael Flannery Testimonial Awards Dinner at Connolly’s Restaurant and Pub, 121 W. 45th Street in Manhattan. This annual event recognizes and honors Irish-Americans and others for their contributions to the promotion of Irish history, literature, human rights and the cause of Irish freedom. Proceeds from the dinner and journal ads go to Cabhair in Ireland, which helps support the dependents of Republican prisoners, and to fund CnSN’s operations and campaigns.

 A large crowd enjoyed a fine evening of traditional Irish music, plentiful hot hors d'oeuvres, open bar, a delicious buffet dinner and inspiring speeches and lively conversation. The evening was enhanced by the warm springtime weather and a Times Square location.

 The event was a huge success. The evening began with lively traditional Irish music performed by Mary Courtney on vocals and guitar, Donie Ryan on banjo and Gerry Enright on bodhrán. 

 Master of Ceremonies Jane Enright gave the official welcome to the crowd. Veteran Republican Brian MOr O Baoighill welcomed the honorees and special guest, Republican Sinn Fein President, Des Dalton.

 The first award was presented to CnSN member, Victor Sackett, recipient of the Seán Mac Diarmada Centenary Award. This award is the second in a series of special awards commemorating the signatories of the 1916 Proclamation. Vic, a member of the National Freedom for All-Ireland Committee of the Ancient Order of Hibernians, has remained true to the Irish Republic proclaimed on Easter 1916 and has been a supporter of Irish reunification all his life. Vic spoke about his support for Eire Nua to restore the health and wealth of a united Ireland.

Next, Patrick Frawley was presented with the Michael & Pearl Flannery Spirit of Freedom Award. Patrick’s dedication to the Irish cause was evident during the 1981 Hunger Strike Campaign in New York when Pat organized a constant stream of buses from the East Bronx to the British consulate in Manhattan. He was a member of New York Mounted Police and is a leading activist in The Veteran's of Foreign Wars in the East Bronx. Pat spoke about the importance of his self-identification as an Irish Republican and the feeling of comradery and fellowship he feels when among members of the Republican community.

 This year’s honoree for the Sr. Sarah Clarke Human Rights Award is Peggy O’Hara. Michaela O’Hara, accepted the award on her great-aunt’s behalf. Peggy, a native of Co. Derry, Ireland, is the mother of INLA volunteer, Patsy O’Hara who was the fourth hunger striker to die seeking political status in Long Kesh prison in British Occupied Ireland on May 21, 1981. Michaela spoke movingly about the impact of Patsy’s sacrifice on the O’Hara family and their continued dedication to the cause of Irish freedom. She also sang a song she wrote about the men of 1981.

 Maggie Trainor introduced Tiokasin Ghosthorse, host of WBAI’s First Voices Indigenious Radio program and thanked him for supporting the Shell to Sea campaign on his show. Tiokasin, a member of the Lakota Nation, gave a welcoming address before dinner. He spoke about the commonality among all peoples and the need for all of us work together as a family to respect and care for the land, all cultures and the environment.

 After dinner,  Brian Mór Ó Baoighill introduced RSF President Des Dalton, who gave a stirring address for the crowd, many of whom had travelled from out of town to hear him speak in the U.S. for the first time. Des spoke of the historic importance of support from “Ireland’s exiled children in America.” “The lifelong commitments of Republicans like the honourees here tonight serve to inspire future generations to take up the cause of Irish freedom,” he said. He spoke of the sacrifices made by the 1981 hunger strikers and their families and all those who have died for Ireland. He continued, “the most fitting testament and testimonial that we can give to the memory of those patriots, and the pledge we can give to their families is that we will continue that struggle until we have achieved the aims and principles for which they gave their lives.”

 He spoke about the current prisoners who follow in the footsteps of previous generations. They are in prison, he continued, because “they refuse to accept the Queen of England’s writ in any part of Ireland and we salute them here today.”

 Dalton said that it has been invaluable to be able to speak in New York about the party’s “alternative to the failed and rotten states in Ireland: the 26 County and 6 County states, both of which were imposed on the Irish people by an act of the British Parliament.” He spoke of the failure of both governments, both politically and economically. He said that Eire Nua, would “make real the pledge and the promise of the Proclamation of 1916” and that Eire Nua is the way forward to “make real the ownership of Ireland for the people of Ireland and a way to make a reality of the all-Ireland Republic of 1916.” He commended Cumann Na Saoirse Náisíunta for its support of the Eire Nua policy.

 Dalton responded to recent comments from Provisional spokespersons and 6 County candidates that “there is only one IRA.” He agreed: “there is only one IRA, there is only one Sinn Fein and there is only one Republican Movement and they abandoned that in 1986.”

 He concluded “on behalf of the true Republican Movement in Ireland, on behalf of the true Sinn Fein – Republican Sinn Fein – I thank you for your work that you are doing on behalf of the cause of Irish freedom and for prisoners, here in the United States, and I ask you to continue that work, and I pledge you this: we will continue to drive on until we have achieved the goal of a free and independent all-Ireland republic.” It was an inspiring and well received speech.

 Cumann Na Saoirse Náisíunta thanks all individuals, businesses and organizations who bought tickets and journal ads and made this event a great success. Special thanks go to renowned artist Brian Mór Ó Baoighill, who designed the superb one-of-a-kind awards, the journal covers, fabulous and witty cartoons on the website and the stunning and powerful design for the 30th Anniversary tee shirts commissioned by CnSN in honor of the 10 men who died for Ireland in 1981; and to Tom Costello, who tirelessly maintains the website and produces the journal along with his equally tireless brother, Michael.

  Josh Jacobs, Chairperson of next Saturday’s 1981 Hunger strike commemoration to be held at Rock Sullivan’s  ed Hook Brooklyn wished to announce that the starting time has been moved forward to 3.30p m. The commemoration will include individual tributes to each of the Martyrs of 1981 and video footage from that hunger strike campaign from that era

Videos  .. (1) Awards Presentations  .. (2) Des Dalton address ..  (3) M. Trainor / Tiokasin Ghosthorse



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