Monday, January 12, 2009

Remembering Friends


January 12th 2009-01-12

To begin with, a few words about friends and comrades of mine who died over the festive season. They include Christine Bap Beatty and Seán McKenna. (Editor's note: Sean McKenna is pictured as he appeared on publicity photo for 1980 hunger strike which was also used on posters of the time.) But the biggest shock was on Christmas Eve when I got the sad sceál that Mike Doyle had died suddenly in Philadelphia. Mike came from Castlerea in Roscommon. He never forgot his roots, visiting his homeplace regularly. He was a true friend of Ireland, an ally to many people who arrived over the decades looking for work in Philly and a mainstay of support for the republican cause.

I was with him in the Autumn at a highly successful event and on our many visits to that fine city Mike and his pals were there to greet us. He epitomised in many ways the best of Irish America. Through hard word he did well for himself and his clann. Through it all he stayed true to the Irish cause. Go ndéana Dia trócaire ar a anam dílis. Alex Maskey travelled at short notice to represent Sinn Féin at Mike's funeral and to convey our solidarity to Bernadette and their son, daughters and grandchildren.
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A sad day also in Dublin when we buried Tony Gregory TD last Wednesday. Tony was one of those alternative voices that is so needed in Ireland today. He died after a battle with cancer. He will be badly missed by his family and friends and by his constituents. For decades Tony and Christy Burke were the only radical elected voices for working people in Dublin’s inner city. He stood against the scourge of poverty, unemployment, bad housing and disadvantage of all kinds. An authentic and hard working socialist and republican, Tony was given a very fitting send off.

I met an old friend Fr Piaras Ó Dúill who officiated at the funeral mass and scores of other people who I admire. At the Church of Saint Agatha there was a notice affixed to the rows of seats at the front, Reserved For Canvassers, it said. I thought that was a nice touch and a fitting tribute to the folk who got Tony elected year in and year out, sometimes against all the odds.

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Another old friend, Ulick O'Connor sent me a copy of his latest book. Go raibh míle maith agat Ulick. The Kiss is a collection of poems and translations of poems by one of our island's leading literary lights and I am pleased to say that age has not blunted Ulick’s perceptive pen. I love books and this is a well turned out representative of the species, worthy of its author’s high quality verse. Well done Ulick.

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Ulick has been a consistent visitor at Sinn Féin’s Ard Fheis. I hope he will be there again this year. The Ard Fheis is in the RDS on the weekend of February 20. On January 20 the southern state is commemorating the 90th Anniversary of the First Dáil at the Mansion House in Dublin. Those of you who study these matters will know that the First Dáil met there on January 21. Sinn Féin booked the Mansion House for that date. Not that that should have been a problem.

A source close to Sinn Féin tells me the party was prepared to make the venue available to the Oireachtas if the state commemoration was made a national event and if there were co-equal speaking rights for all involved. Ah no, came the reply. So there you are……. At least it was accepted that MPs, MLAs and MEPs from the north should be invited. And that’s a good thing.
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The Sinn Féin commemoration is a national event. Everyone is welcome. There will be tours of this historic venue throughout the 21st January, an exhibition and a conference that afternoon and a rally that night. For details see the Sinn Féin website.

So what was the First Dail?

The First Dáil Éireann – the first democratically elected Irish Parliament – was established after the Irish people overwhelmingly endorsed the demand for independence from Britain in the 1918 election.

The meeting of the First Dáil Éireann is one of those seminal moments in Irish history. It was the democratic desire of the Irish people for freedom and independence taking shape.
The democratic, social and economic programme of the First Dáil Éireann was radical and visionary. They declared that society should be “ruled in accordance with the principles of Liberty, Equality and Justice for all”.
Grand words, reflecting the goals of the 1916 Proclamation and espousing the great principles of freedom, democracy and social justice to be found in other national declarations around the world.

But the First Dáil was suppressed by the British government, its preceding outlawed, its mandate ignored, and Ireland was partitioned by London. Consequently, the commemoration on January 21st will provide an opportunity to refocus attention on the overriding requirement for an end to partition and for a United Ireland. See you there.
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I spoke at a rally in Dublin on Saturday in protest at the Israeli
Government’s attacks on the people of Gaza. In the course of my remarks I argued for a negotiated peace settlement, an end to all armed actions and direct talks between the Israeli Government and Hamas. War should not be an option. Peace is the only option. Peace with justice. Direct dialogue is the only way to secure and sustain that.

Whatever happens in the short term in that region it is my conviction that all democrats must commit ourselves to working for that and to working for a Palestinian state which is sustainable and viable. Sinn Féin tried to raise the issue on Monday in the Northern Assembly under Matters of the Day. Procedures prevented us from doing that but the Ceann Chomairle Willie Hay has agreed to investigate how international issues like this can be dealt with in the future. In the meantime our Assembly team has tabled a motion on the matter.

15 comments:

Anonymous said...

Welcome to blogging, Gerry. I think its great to see you online like this.

Btw, my current website is at http://www.councillor.info/docobhthaigh/0/default.aspx although it needs a new story or two...

Anonymous said...

"...Tony (Gregory) was one of those alternative voices that is so needed in Ireland today..."
Why are those alternative voices in Northern Ireland today, and especially when it comes to the native Irish language of which Tony was such a proud speaker?

Anonymous said...

The Israeli invasion of Gaza is reminiscent of the Nazi onslaught on Warsaw's Jewish ghetto during the early 1940s.

Anonymous said...

Gerry.

Some day, the principals that were laid on that great event will be achieved.GBS said"When democratic Socialism has achieved sufficency of means,equality of opportunaity, and national intermariageabilty for everybody, with production kept in its natural order from necessities to luxuries, and the courts of justice unembarrassed by mercenary barristers, its work will be done"

96cambridge said...

Chuala mé tú ag an morshuil i mBaile Atha Cliath.

An bhfuil tú cinnte faoi www.sinnfein.com

Not sure about your link to the website for info on the mansion House event. Cannot access website and can find no info on www.sinnfein.ie

USA said...

It's 9:30pm on Monday Jan 12th here in Philadelphia, and I have just read of Mike Doyle's death on your blog. I was taken aback. I first met Mike when he helped me out back in 87, 6 years later I met my wife in the New Deck. Life moved on and it's been years since I seen Mike but he and his buddy Dennis McKee were both good Irishmen.
Terrible shame.

Robbi McMillen said...

Keep speaking up on Gaza. Tá sé ró-bhrónach go bhfuil aontachtaí in éadán tacaíocht a thabhairt do dhaoine an Phailistín agus in éadan ceartas daofa a thacú.

Tá filíocht Ulick iontach laidir, agus is deas an dán atá sa leabhar 'Hunger Strike'. Coinnigh leat ag scríobh!

Anonymous said...

Sorry to hear of the death of Mike Doyle, I knew he was a friend and supporter.Jeanette and I were away over the holidays so I didn"t know. Keep up the good job of blogging, its a great way of communicating. E.F.

David Murphy said...

A source close to Sinn Féin? Surely they can't be any closer than you are yourself?

innisfree1916 said...

Welcome to the Blogosphere, Gerry!!! Fáilte romhat!
I’m glad visiting your blog. I think this blog is a very good medium to spread your opinions. I suscribe Léargas.
I have a blog too. My blog is: http://innisfree1916.wordpress.com. Of course it’s about Ireland, it’s in Spanish and try to talk about all sides: history, culture, Gaeilge (with a weekly course of Irish in Spanish), landscapes,... and also political information, specially on the peace process in the north. My blog is very popular and it is visited for a lot of people from Latin America (Irish roots, of course) and also from Spain. Gerry, it will be a honour for me that you visit my blog or at least you know it. As you can imaging, I love Ireland and I value your work.
Ádh mór ort!!!
Best regards, from Aragon (Spain),
Chesús

Anonymous said...

Close to a 1,000 people have now been killed by the Israelis, one-half of those babies, children, and their mothers.
It seems to the Israelis that the only "good Palestinian" is a "totally submissive Palestinian," and barring that a "dead Palestinian" - age, gender, and everything else are irrelevant.
Have the Israelis learned nothing from WW II?
Is only Israeli life sacred but no one else's?

Anonymous said...

An mbeidh slogadh Shinn Féin ar an 20ú Eanáir sa Mansion House go h-iomlán i nGaeilge mar a bhí an Chéad Dáil?

Anonymous said...

úps - an 21ú Eanair a bhí i gceist agam.

Neil Burns said...

The yapping dog wing of Unionism used the media here to support the Gaza onslaught and I think that has to be shown up for what it is, hate that they equate with what happened here, shame on them Is míse Neil Burns

Colm MacNiallais said...

Dia Duit Gerry,

I have just discovered your new blog today and I find it really enjoyable, as well as informative. I'm sure you'll learn your way around it soon enough. Please keep posting and I'll keep reading. Hopefully, I'll see you at the Mansion House on Wednesday. Slan.

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