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IN A statement on November 23, reacting to the GAA’s decision at its Special Congress on Saturday, November 17 to rescind Rule 21, which prohibits members of the British military or police from joining the Association, Republican Sinn Féin spokesman, Des Dalton, Ard Chomhairle, Athy, described it as “a retrograde step”.
“The leadership of the GAA have allowed themselves to be stampeded into giving legitimacy to the British military presence in Ireland. However Irish Republicans must not abandon their Association, but remain to defend its ethos and values from those who would attempt to transform it into a prop for British rule in Ireland,” Des Dalton said.
On November 20 Ard Chomhairle member Seán McGoldrick, Dublin said “The politicians have made a political instrument of the GAA and used it in order to make respectable and acceptable the re-named British police force in Ireland.
“Rule 21 has not been an issue in the 26 Counties for 80 years. It does not apply there. What of the Six Counties where it does, where it is an issue day and daily?
“The last has not been heard of Rule 21.”
Republican Sinn Féin in Dublin leafletted the GAA delegates as they went in to the Dublin hotel for the Special Congress on November 17. All of the Six Counties, bar Co Down, supported Rule 21 at the Congress.
The GAA constitution states: (Article 1) that its basic aim is “the strengthening of the National Identity in a 32-County Ireland” and (Article 3) “It should foster an awareness and love of the national ideals in the people of Ireland”.
Moves to admit the British Forces contradict these aims and seek to normalise the situation of British rule in the Six Counties by total acceptance of its most visible instruments there. Rule 21 was adopted because the British Forces would spy on nationalist members through the Association. This is still the case in the Six Counties.
The direct lineal successors of those who attacked Croke Park on Bloody Sunday in 1920 killing a player on the field and 13 spectators, in our own day shot down 14 Irish citizens in Derry on another Bloody Sunday and more recently killed Aidan MacAnespie at the border on his way to a GAA match.
This divisive question will no longer arise when Britain withdraws her forces from Ireland. Then indeed will Rule 21 have out-lived its usefulness and be removed with the least possible controversy and the greatest jubilation.
To entertain and promote its removal before that happy day is to give aid and comfort to the British Occupation Forces and to publicly reject all those who have suffered for the freedom of Ireland at the hands of those forces down the years. We cannot have it both ways.
Surface changes to the British forces in our country do not alter their basic function which is to maintain English rule here. Last August the Unionist Lord Mayor of Belfast made additional demands on the GAA. The Irish National Anthem and the flying of the Irish Tricolour would have to be banned at GAA events “before unionists could feel welcome in the GAA”.
Further demands will be formulated, eg that GAA grounds and clubs be no longer named in honour of Irish patriots. Irish nationality must be fully and entirely repudiated. The Association must realise where the road they are asked to travel leads and whether they wish to start out on such a journey. Because in the end they must deny that they are Irish.
This divisive question will no longer arise when Britain withdraws her forces from Ireland. Then indeed will Rule 21 have outlived its usefulness and be removed with the least possible controversy and the greatest jubilation.
THE 134th anniversary of the execution of Allen, Larkin and O’Brien was commemorated at the Manchester Martyrs monument at St Joseph’s Cemetery in Manchester, England on Sunday 25 November.
The biggest attendance in some time was present and many Irish organisations in England were represented. Persons were in attendance who had not been at the commemoration for some time, including a niece of Jackie Griffiths, shot dead by 26-County Special Branch in 1943.
The commemoration was chaired by Brian Ó hAnluan of Republican Sinn Féin who started by welcoming those who had come to honour the Martyrs and the Republican dead in the cemetery, some of whom had come long distances from London, Liverpool and Glasgow. The Proclamation of Easter 1916 was read out by a Republican from Glasgow, which was followed by the reading by Jim O’Dwyer of a Roll of Honour of Irish patriots who gave their lives for Ireland on enemy soil. Brian Ó hAnluán gave a short talk on IRA Volunteer Seán Morgan, buried in St Joseph’s who was shot dead by Manchester police in 1921. Seán Morgan had been taking part in the reprisals by Óglaigh na hÉireann in response to the terrorism of the Black and Tans in Ireland at that time, causing much commercial damage.
One minute’s silence was observed before the laying of wreaths by John Conway, on behalf of the Republican Movement and Debbie Grew on behalf of the Manchester Martyrs Commemoration Committee at the monument. Flowers were also laid at the graves of Volunteer Sean Morgan and the Doherty sisters, Volunteers of Cumann na mBan from County Roscommon.
The main speaker was Decies native and former Cumann na mBan political prisoner, Josephine Hayden who was released in 2000 having served 4 years in Limerick gaol. In a very enlightening and informative oration, Josephine related the circumstances surrounding the execution of the Manchester Martyrs and the extreme lengths the Brits went to ensuring that the state would get its pound of flesh. She condemned the dropping of the rule banning Brit forces from taking part in the GAA and described the inhuman treatment of political prisoners in jails in Ireland, north and south.
The commemoration was concluded by Brian, who stated that the acceptance of the Brits/PSNI into the GAA is equivalent to the English allowing Al Qaeda or the Taliban to have a cricket team in an English league. Following which Amhrán na bhFiann was sung. The Manchester Martyrs commemoration is slowly being built up once more.
THE annual Eddie Carmody commemoration took place on November 22 in Ballylongford, Co Kerry, organised by Republican Sinn Féin in North Kerry.
Many people gathered to watch and participate in the commemoration which marched from the Eddie Carmody Memorial Hall to his monument just outside the town.
The event was chaired by Liam Cotter who spoke in detail about how Eddie Carmody was murdered just outside the town of Ballylongford, also the birthplace of The O’Rahilly.
The Rosary was recited by Seán Morrissey who first recited the Rosary at the Eddie Carmody monument as a boy of ten. A wreath was placed on behalf of the Republican Movement.
The oration was given by Republican Sinn Féin Ard Chomhairle member Geraldine McNamara from Tipperary. In the course of her oration she spoke about the valiant people of 1920 who suffered greatly but who had pride in their ideals and were not prepared to surrender to the British Occupying Forces. Approximately 200 Republicans gave their lives for freedom during that year. They were an inspiration to those who refused to surrender in 1922 and the people of the 1940s campaign and right through to the present day.
Geraldine McNamara described those who had recently surrendered the arms of the Irish Republican Army as traitors and called on them to now give up the glorious name of Sinn Féin. She also asked would they now posthumously give medals to those they had executed in the past for exposing dumps and would informers now be welcomed back into the fold.
In conclusion she asked that we remember the political prisoners and continue to support them in their fight to regain political status. December is the month dedicated to Republican prisoners and their suffering should not be forgotten.
Amhrán na bhFiann was played and everyone returned to the town for refreshment which had been organised by Bill O’Shea.
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