Speech by Martin Galvin to a RNU Easter Commemoration, Derry, (12 April 2009)
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Speech by Martin Galvin to an Easter Commemoration, organised by the Republican Network for Unity, Derry City Cemetery, Derry, (12 April 2009)
Today across the six counties, across Ireland and indeed in countries across oceans, Irish nationalists and Republicans will commemorate Easter. At virtually every such ceremony, the 1916 Proclamation of the Irish Republic will be read, the memory of Ireland’s patriot dead will be recalled and honored, and some words about the relevance of that Proclamation and the sacrifice of those who died to win freedom for all 32 counties of Ireland will be spoken.
This commemoration here in Derry together with but a few others must stand out as truly special, more appropriate more fitting and more meaningful than others.
Here we stand in Derry a part of Ireland where the right of all Irish people to national freedom and sovereignty, asserted in the Proclamation, is still denied by the British crown. Here we stand in the faces of today’s British crown constabulary, who impose British rule and law and serve to deny that right to national freedom. Here we are honored to stand near the graves of Irish Patriots, Fenian dead who gave their lives so that others might live in freedom. Among them Patsy O’Hara and Mickey Devine, two of ten patriot martyrs who died on hunger strike in 1981 throwing back in Thatcher’s face Britain’s attempt to portray them and the Irish struggle of which they were a part as criminal and whom Ireland will never forget. Among them equally cherished are other volunteer soldiers of the Irish Republican Army and Irish National Liberation Army who made the supreme sacrifice in a common fight against British rule. We pledge to their memories, their families and friends that each of these patriots are and will always remain a living inspiration to all true Republicans.
Here as we come to honor Ireland’s patriot dead, we do not dishonor them by soliciting the blessings of crown forces that killed them. Here no one will claim the mantle of Republicanism today only to disclaim it by donning the trappings of British offices or constabulary boards tomorrow. Here we do not calibrate our words for fear of upsetting Stormont chief Robinson or the British ministers above him.
Here no one will pledge to break British rule on one hand and then set about tomorrow to administer that rule or recruit for the crown forces imposing that rule on the other, and pretend it is all the same or merely another phase in the same struggle.
We have long heard and read hysterical words condemning with a broad brush, all Republicans like us who do not believe that the road to a reunited Ireland passes through Stormont. I believe it is appropriate today to read and respond to some examples.
The usually responsible IRISH TIMES urged that the “bloodshed…must be punished with a severity which will make any repetition impossible for generations to come”. The IRISH INDEPENDENT used the terms “insane and criminal”. A top elected MP from an Irish constituency publicly described what he termed the “detestation and horror” of the overwhelming majority of Irish people. Do not all of these words sound a familiar ring? Have we not all heard much the same blaring at us through the media in recent weeks?
Except these words were not printed or pronounced last month or last year or even in last decade. These condemnations were in fact published and spoken about Pearse and Connolly and the men and women of the Easter week 1916 Rising, who hold an honored place today across Ireland. The difference seems to be that the MP then Redmond called it an attack on Home Rule instead of an attack on Stormont.
Such words, such rhetoric and such outbursts did not dissuade did not deter and did not derail Republicans then. They did not dissuade, deter or derail those Republicans who followed and got the British out of 26 counties of Ireland. Today’s outbursts will not dissuade, not deter and not derail today’s Republicans from seeking to get the British out of the rest of Ireland.
How often between 1969 and 1994 did we hear the same or worse directed at some who now condemn us, coupled with words like criminal, godfathers, mindless killers and the like shouted by establishment politicians, not excluding some MPs from nationalist districts like Gerry Fitt or John Hume ? We knew better than to be misled. The same time worn slanders are not made more believable because those who shout them today had once been the targets, they simply make themselves less believable.
Those who stand shoulder to shoulder with a British chief constable and British Stormont chief in front of a British ministry and shouts “traitors” should cop themselves on- and I not use those words to mean giving another endorsement to the renamed RUC.
It is often said by others within the wider Republican community that they have a strategy. Near where I live in New York, Joe Cahill boasted that this strategy would unite Ireland within 5 years and many there believed him when he said it in 1998. As anyone who has passed Strand Road Barracks since 2003 may have noticed, his words were hollow
We then began to hear and read confident rumors, whispers and leaks to journalists about 2016, coupled with hints about 10-15 seats and cabinet posts in Leinster House, dramatic jumps in the percentage of six county nationalist vote and even unionists being softened by working hand and hand with Sinn Fein. No one would now take such theories seriously and in fact such predictions all but disappeared except in articles such as that published in the IRISH NEWS last week by a unionist columnist Newton Emerson headed “STRATEGY FOR UNITY BARELY VISIBLE UNDER WRECKAGE” ridiculing and boasting about the demise this underlying strategy.
Now Republicans actually wonder, whether the 1916 centenary will be marked by the party, which historically and bravely walked away from seats at Westminster taking up those seats and hailing it as a victory for their strategy and another phase in the advance to a reunited Ireland.
No one here takes any joy from any of these events or from seeing and being obligated to point out hard truths. Those who spearheaded the formation of the Republican Network for Unity and the Ex-prisoners against the RUC from which the RNU emerged, were veteran Republicans who fought, suffered imprisonment, risked their lives and dedicated their lives to the struggle no less than those who now back Stormont. Some enjoyed personal ties to the leadership directing Sinn Fein policy. They found it heartbreaking to disagree and walk away from the leadership and organization to which they had given so much over so many years. They did so at a juncture when it would have been easier to remain silent and rest on their laurels and share in the benefits. They waked away as Republicans who felt that loyalty to the struggle trumped loyalty to the party or party policy.
We stand here today not because we fail to grasp the strategy or politics or because of personality concerns with those who direct it or disloyalty or any number of other misrepresented motives impugned to us. We are here because we understand only too well that the British also have a strategy. Their strategy began with platitudes about no selfish, political strategic or economic interests in holding on to the 6 counties, the same sort of patently false claims which the crown has been giving us since they first came here with a papal bull from an English Pope eight centuries ago.
Britain’s strategy aims to cement British rule by bottling former opponents into a Stormont regime tethered to Paisley and Robinson’s DUP and sealing off any steps to Irish unity through an impenetrable triple lock of a unionist veto, Stormont and Westminster. The crown’s version of bedding down the institutions is wedding former opponents to a British administration and then putting Republicanism to sleep. Where even praise for minor gestures as painting post boxes green must be apologized for and not alone withdrawn.
Britain’s objectives remain Ulsterisation, normalization and criminalization but today that those objectives are no longer best served by a one party unionist rule. Instead the crown contrived to cement sectarian divisions at Stormont on one hand by its mandated allocations of power, but at the same time to dole out in meager measure such positions, patronage, trappings of office power and money deemed appropriate to keep nationalists on board.
The crown wants to administer British rule behind green and orange masks, which can be trotted out as useful for political cover.
Policies set by crown civil servants in British interests can now be announced and blame attributed to Sinn Fein ministers. Diplock Courts and the renamed RUC-PSNI with its blemishes and bloodstains continue to impose British rule and law, but now Sinn Fein is touted by the crown as a recruiting sergeant for nationalists who will be enlisted, trained, and commanded by veteran RUC, and of course these RUC will never be accountable for collusion, torture or shoot-to kill. American, international and human rights campaigns much less any push for Irish unity can be deflected by the crown who point to the unionist veto and need for a consensus at Stormont.
It was once a cornerstone of Republican political strategy that British rule was irreformable and that those who joined it would end up being party to the injustices needed to sustain that rule. Colin Duffy and the other Republicans arrested have been all but found guilty in the media and criminalized and there is may be scientific DNA evidence. British scientific evidence is renown throughout the world for its reputation in Ireland. It is famous for giving Ireland miscarriages of justice.
The British have been generous with examples. Paraffin tests for gunshot residue on the clothing of Bloody Sunday victims were used as part of the WIDGERY whitewash to claim that the victims had handled guns. Of course later these tests were rubbished because the items had been handled and contaminated by British troopers who fired shots. The nightmare of the “Birmingham Six” began with a credentialed English scientist neglecting to exclude varnish or playing cards as the source triggering the false positive he mistook for explosives.
The latest manipulation of the Diplock Courts seems to be the attempt to sentence Republicans on the basis of fabricated DNA evidence. DNA evidence is easily planted. It can be gathered in any house raid. It leaves no telltale signs like visible injuries. It has the advantage that most people will not understand or question ostensibly irrefutable scientific data, in the way that a confession under torture is immediately understood.
Mark Carroll and Martin Brogan, were pronounced guilty an RUC-PSNI press conference in a case related to Seamus Doherty. In scenes that seemed plagiarized from the script of “In the Name of the Father”, one of the members of the legal team, Aidan Carlin found written notes detailing that items had been unsealed and taken away to allow for fabricated DNA to be planted. The test conductors were told to change their findings to make a case. These charges were dismissed but
Sean Hoey was pronounced guilty in the media of 58 charges and served 4 years based upon evidence that his solicitor Peter Corrigan and many human rights campaigners said from the beginning was a miscarriage of justice, based on similarly gathered and planted DNA.
Here was an important case with top ranking RUC and PSNI members in the witness box. In the past, top crown constables felt it fair game to beat a confession out of the Irish suspect then conspire to commit perjury and cover-up to jail the Republican for a lengthy sentence. Now the crown avoids torture with its inconvenient telltale signs. Instead these top-ranking constables merely planted DNA evidence, using black tape taken from his South Armagh home, and stuck the tape onto evidence collected from various scenes. They then concealed it by perjury and cover-up. A perjury investigation ordered by the Diplock judge commended the constabulary.
There are no files to charge or try RUC members for shoot-to-kill, Castlereagh torture or collusion even in cases like that of Pat Finucane where British Army and RUC agents are deeply implicated. Yet there was no problem in locating files against a Republican like Gerry McGeough, whose offense seems to be that he campaigned against the RUC and whose arrest seems to be a message to Republicans to bend the knee or else.
Terry McCafferty’s license was revoked as part of the same message
The Stormont Deal is being used much like March 1, 1976 as a new artificial date to finally impose criminalization on Irish Republican political prisoners. A criminal uniform would be too obvious. Instead the means of criminalizing Republican prisoners is to force them into cells alongside and among criminals, without segregation amongst political prisoners. An early protest won segregation. The British then contrived to make the block for political prisoners a virtual punishment block. Those Republican prisoners who demanded segregation would be locked up for 21 or 22 hours daily, systemically strip-searched, brutalized, threatened and denied conditions and facilities available to criminals. The aim of the British is to break these prisoners into accepting places on the criminal wing.
Where is Sinn Fein on these injustices?
There are many Republicans with different views here but we as Republicans feel our first task is to pull other republicans back from a British trap that will cement British rule and leads not to Irish freedom but as a dead end at Stormont. Our first step must one of unity amongst ourselves at least to communicate and work together on agreed issues while maintaining independence. We are here to pledge ourselves, as Republicans that this British strategy will not succeed. That Irish Republicans are not purchased or pacified to quote Pearse. He said it in a famous speech .It was the speech that ended with the words ‘’Ireland unfree shall never be at peace” .That we are committed to a real peace based on freedom for every county in Ireland."
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