It's almost Easter, nearly a century has passed since Padraig Pearse proclaimed the Irish Republic and we are still suffering under British Occupation. In fact we are still facing all the injustices that contributed to the rising taking place, poverty, inequality, exploitation, violence and occupation.
It's a time when Republicans remember their fallen comrades who gave their lives in the struggle for Irish freedom, a struggle that still continues to this very day.
Those Republicans who participated in the rising were a small minority with no popular support, no political mandate, were rejected by the vast majority of the people and were condemned by Anti-Republicans for their actions.
Sounds familiar doesn't it? But didn't Connolly himself speak about the "respectable minority, ready to die to affirm that truth "?
Britain’s role in Ireland today is the same as it was in 1798, 1916, 1969 or 1981 – that of an imperialist occupier. The challenge now, for republicans, is it to expose the lie of ‘normalisation’ and build a new, broad based movement for Irish freedom.’
In Newry most people seem to stay at home at this time of year, others go and pay their respects in their own personal way, and politically orientated commemorations are dwindling in numbers, this is evident if anyone happens to see the various small commemorations on Easter Sunday. And i'm not confining that to one particular group, it's commonplace with the various groups who hold these type of political commemorations.
This isn't just something that has happened in Newry, it's happening all over but some areas are fixing that problem. For example in Tyrone, Republicans have Independent Easter commemorations, these are non political events with no political speeches and they draw thousands to them. Plus the families of the fallen Volunteers fully participate in them rather than the political commemorations.
All Irish republicans and socialists need to look afresh at the events of 1916, to revisit the Proclamation of the Irish Republic and to question what has really been achieved.
Do the people of Ireland have “ownership of Ireland”, “unfettered control of Irish destinies” and “right to national freedom and sovereignty”? Are “all the children of the nation” cherished equally?
To realise the aspirations of the 1916 Proclamation, radical change is needed.
We must all rededicate ourselves to the vision enshrined in this truly revolutionary document – an independent, united Ireland based on the principles of equality and solidarity.
At the weekend i received a Proclamation that was delivered to my door by éirígí activists. My initial reaction was to put my hand in my pocket, as soon as i done that the activists told me that they weren't taking money for them but were giving them out for free. They then explained to me that every single door they went to everyone had automatically asked how much were the Proclamations. While others only call to peoples doors whenever they're looking something (usually money or votes), Republicans were giving out copies of this historic revolutionary document free of charge. I spoke to the activists about the kind of response they got and they said the feedback from the doorsteps was overwhelming. The people were pleased and surprised that for a change Republicans were calling to their doors to give them something.
This type of grassroots activism is something that has become a rare sight over the years and despite being harassed by the British Militia they continue to be active within their communities.
This is only one of the projects that Republicans in Newry will be involved in over the Easter period and they will be taking part in a number of initiatives during this time to remember this historic episode and to pay tribute to the brave volunteers who gave their lives over the years.