Sunday, 7 December 2008
Delaney Brothers Commemoration
Oration By Phil O'Donoghue
Delaney Brothers Commemoration
I wish to break with tradition by honouring our fallen dead with the deeds we now do in their name. Last year we spoke in reverence about Con and Jeremiah Delaney and the sacrifices they made for Irish freedom. But the greatest homage we can pay to that sacrifice is through our own actions to achieve the same objective. Annual commemorations should no longer be seen as pilgrimages to the past but as barometers to measure the effectiveness of current republican activity. Each commemoration should hear the progress we have made since the last one and if we have no progress to report we do a disservice to those whom we gather to honour.
As Pearse once said of the Irish language, the greatest compliment you can pay it is to speak it. The same goes for honouring our dead. Eloquent eulogies are no substitute for solid political and other activity. And today I want to state that from this point on the sole purpose of standing at this spot is to outline what solid political activity we have managed to further the cause of our freedom. I am pleased to state that for both Con and Jeremiah and those assembled here a positive report can be given.
We stated last year that we cannot dwell on the past as a means to shape the future. Our future is in the hands of the living and not the dead. For the last number of years the 32 County Sovereignty Movement has been engaged in a process to bring about a framework for republican unity. We started with a debate, which progressed to a proposal which has progressed to a realisation. Last month in Derry City the first meeting of the Irish Republican Forum for Unity was held. Despite many obstacles common ground was established to allow different republican groups to come together to democratically work out agreed programmes for political action. Ourselves, the Irish Republican Socialist Party, the Republican Network For Unity and Independent Republicans shared a public platform and set out our preliminary positions before the republicans of Derry. We heard their views and they heard ours in what will be a series of such meetings to be held throughout the 32 Counties.
What we made clear from the start is that this initiative can only succeed if it follows two important rules:
1. It is not a talking shop.
2. It must produce agreed political activity.
If we look at ourselves realistically, and if we are honest to Con and Jeremiah, we can only conclude that at this juncture in our struggle republican unity is the only way forward. There are no guarantees of success, but a static approach will certainly guarantee continued failure. We do not profess to have all the answers, but we do have political ideas and we have every right to try them just as Con and Jeremiah tried theirs. We have learned from them and we now wish to put that learning into practice. We have taken a major step forward and please God whoever amongst us who stands here in twelve months time will be outlining what the second and third steps were also. We wish that process well.
The year also saw the Sovereignty Movement engaged in the campaign against the Lisbon Treaty. What we lacked in practical resources we made up for with originality and inventiveness. We viewed the Lisbon Campaign as a means to highlight the British violation of our national sovereignty an issue the main protagonists dare not touch. We utilised the emergence of new 32CSM Cumainn to bring our message to a wider audience throughout the state. We learned of the importance of the European Debate as it concerns our own struggle. We have demonstrated that a unified approach to such issues can yield greater results for the republican struggle. And what is becoming clearer is that the Lisbon Campaign will once again have to be fought as the powers that be show complete disdain for the votes of the people. The 32CSM was ready for the first campaign. With commitment the Republican Unity Initiative will be ready for the second.
We have repeatedly said that 2016 must be a target date for republican achievement. This year, for the first time in our history, a national republican socialist Easter Commemoration marched to the G.P.O. Another major first step. And like standing here a commitment was given on the steps of the G.P.O that each year would see a determined effort toward securing political gain so that we could stand there on the centenary of 1916 and not merely lament on another glorious failure. That is the mindset of those who have no concept of securing real progress. But to achieve this we need to build, We need to recruit. We need to engage and we need to be honest.
The Delaney Brothers are an inspiration to us and for this we thank them. We have our patriot dead. We have our imprisoned comrades. We have our committed activists. And to them all I say; we also have our priorities right.