A dhaoine uaisle agus a chairde uilig, is ceart agus is cóir go gcuimhnímid ar na laochra atá curtha san áit stairiúil seo anseo mar ghrúpa eisceachtúil. Is cúis inspioráide agus dúshláin dúinn go léir a ndílseacht, a nionracas agus a dtiomantas do phobal na hÉireann. Bhain an réabhlóid, ar chuir siad tús léi,rudaí suntasacha amach taobh istigh d`achar gearr de bhlianta.
A chairde Gael, níor theip orthu, níor chaill siad, bhí sé mar bhua acu fir agus mná na hÉireann a spreagadh agus a ghríosadh chun seilbh a fháil ar a gcinniúint féin.
When our party was founded ninety years ago it was led by a group of people who only ten years before had participated in the Rising of 1916. Since then our party has come to this place every year to honour those who did not live to see what their patriotism and their bravery achieved for our country.
It is now many years since participants in the Rising joined us at this commemoration, but it remains for us one of our most important commitments.
We come here not simply to remember the past but to once again renew our allegiance to the republicanism of 1916. We come here to renew our allegiance to their modern, outward-looking and empowering republicanism.
To their diverse and questioning republicanism.
To their vision of an Ireland which serves its people and renews its values.
The second decade of the twentieth century was one of the great revolutionary moments in world history. Ireland was not alone in striking against an imperial power in the name of national empowerment.
The men and women of 1916 represented the spirit of rising people throughout the world. But they stand out for their particular approach. We should be especially proud that they rejected the defensive and sectarian nationalism seen in many countries.
They showed that people of deep faith and with a commitment to cultural revival could also be open. Time and again they sought ways to broaden the definition of the Irish nation and not to narrow it. They used their education and eloquence to inspire and challenge.
They were no sectarian traditionalists – in fact they were the exact opposite. The words of the Proclamation show this with a power that still resonates.
The Proclamation remains a remarkable statement of modern ideals and insists on that the Irish nation is diverse and inclusive.
You will find very few examples in the world of national revolutions at that time which spoke of respect between opposing traditions; which demanded rights for women; and which sought an independent state which would accept international obligations.
You will also find few examples of national revolutions which faced such overwhelming odds yet achieved so much with a very few years.
In the wonderful commemorations of recent months the Proclamation has been brought to the centre of our national consciousness for the first time in many years. Every time it is read we receive a strong message that still resonates.
One of the most impressive and least commented upon parts of the Proclamation is where the Volunteers made demands of themselves. If you were to serve the Republic which they established you were obliged to act with bravery and decency.
On the streets of this city and in parades in many parts of the country our army, the only army of the Irish Republic established in 1916, has been to the fore. Óglaigh na hÉireann, together with An Gárda Siochána and other forces, received an enormous ovation from the people they serve. This was founded on all they have done to protect us and the honour they have brought to our country overseas.
They are now what they have always been, a force for unity and pride. They derive their legitimacy directly from the people and the Republic declared in front of the GPO 100 years ago.
Let us never forget that and also let us never forget our duty to protect the name of Óglaigh na hÉireann from those who still seek to abuse it in the name of their illegitimate and sectarian organisations.
In the middle of what has been a great national commemoration there continues to be one deeply cynical and dangerous attempt to exploit the heroes of 1916. Provisional Sinn Fein was founded in 1970 to support a campaign rejected constantly by the mass of the Irish people in vote after vote for quarter of a century. The manner in which they have sought to rewrite history and claim direct continuity from 1916 is an outrage.
Unable to achieve the electoral breakthrough they long claimed was inevitable, they are now using more underhand methods to legitimise themselves. In the very room where the Irish Volunteers first met they are today running an exhibition which claims to be about 1916 but it is solely about twisting history. Even though a Sinn Fein officer is running it out of Sinn Fein HQ they pretend to the public that it is an independent exhibition. They claim that to honour Pearse, Clarke and Plunkett you must honour a sinister organisation which tried to destroy this state and continues to refuse to subject its members to the laws enacted by the Irish people.
The fact is that today this type of behaviour is the greatest threat to the high standing of 1916 amongst the Irish people. The anti-nationalist revisionists have been marginalised. The arguments of the 1970s and 1980s that we should reject the tradition of 1916 are now confined to a small fringe. What remains as a direct challenge to the unique status of 1916 is Gerry Adams and a party incapable of accepting that it waged an illegitimate war against a democratic republican tradition directly enabled by 1916.
People who behave like this are also disrespecting the men and women of the Rising because they are claiming that nothing was achieved. This is the biggest difference between the vast majority of the Irish people and the Provisionals movement – we believe that 1916 fundamentally changed the possibilities for pursuing the cause of Irish republicanism.
At the very next election after the Rising a massive public endorsement was won under the leadership of Eamon deValera. The most powerful empire in the world was forced to concede. Far from everything was achieved and we collectively failed to find a way of avoiding the civil war – but 1916 did indeed lead to a situation which was ‘changed, changed utterly’.
And no one has to look into a crystal ball to see how the men and women of 1916 would have reacted to the argument of a so-called ‘unbroken chain’ linking 1916 to the Provisionals. The vast majority of surviving volunteers joined parties which embraced other ways of promoting the cause of Ireland.
We are deeply proud of the fact that our founding generation was made up of people who fought in 1916 and in the struggle which followed. The most senior surviving officer of the Volunteers was our founding President. The most senior surviving officer of the Citizens’ Army was our founding Chairperson. Family members of many of the heroes we honour here today helped found and build Fianna Fáil.
And yet, in spite of the immense pride we have in this, we insist that 1916 belongs to no party – it belongs to the Irish people. We will never fail to stand against the political cynicism of those who seek to exploit it for partisan gain. Every party and individual who participates in public life on this island is doing so because of opportunities created by 1916.
Tá aiseolas an phobail ar na himeachtaí cultúrtha a bhí mar dhlúthchuid de chomóradh an chéid thar a bheith dearfach. Ceann de phríomhluachanna laochra míle naoi gcéad sé déag, ná gur chóir fiúntas ar leith, uathúil ár gcultúir a thuiscint.
Ní rabhadar mar náisiúntóirí caolaigeanta teoranta. Bhíodar fadradharcach dóchasach, níor léiríodh ár gcultúr níos fearr ná cultúir eile, ach rinneadh deimhin de gur cheart meas a bheith ar shaintréithe ár gcultúir agus go mbeadh an cultúr Éireannach ar comhchéim le cinn eile.
Ba chóir aitheantas agus creidiúint a thabhairt don fhuinneamh atá le feiceáil i gcur chun cinn na Gaeilge mar theanga bheo sa chóras oideachais i scoileanna mórthimpeall na tíre. Seo ré na bhféidearachtaí, nach féidir linn ligint i ndearmad a thuilleadh, agus níor cheart ár dteanga a chailliúint agus beimid ag obair chun stádas na Gaeilge a athbheochan in obair an Rialtais agus san Oireachtas.
Chun tógail ar thodhchaí chomhroinnte agus comhpháirtíocht idir gach cuid den oileán seo, tá an dúthracht atá in easnamh i leith na haidhme seo le blianta beaga anuas ag teastáil uainn arís. Mar thoradh air seo, tá sí mar aidhm lárnach ag Fianna Fáil úsáid a bhaint as an ról atá againn i nDáil Éireann chun athbheochan agus athfhuinneamh a chur isteach in athmhuintearas agus forbairt.
The Good Friday Agreement which we played a central part in negotiating gave us all an opportunity to build not just an absence of war but also lasting reconciliation and development. This opportunity is being wasted. We need a new beginning in the concept of North-South bodies, which have an enormous potential to deliver services and sustained development on both sides of the Border.
And we need direct engagement by both the Irish and British governments to end the stranglehold in Stormont by two parties. This is doing immense damage to public support for the institutions and public engagement in politics.
Over the past five years Fianna Fáil has changed in many ways. After the 2011 election we didn’t sit back and try to ignore reality. In looking for a way forward our first priority was to seek to renew the great tradition which we had been handed by earlier generations.
Within our party our focus of pride has always been on the concrete and sustained progress which we were able to achieve for our country. Initiatives of great ambition helped to clear slums, introduce a social safety net, develop industry, open-up education and give Ireland an honoured place in the international community of nations. The constitution drafted so skilfully by Eamon de Valera successfully underpinned stable democratic institutions and the expansion of rights at one of the darkest moments in Europe’s history.
And central to this tradition has been a willingness to respond to the new circumstances and challenges facing our country.
We worked hard to reconnect with people and to set out our alternative to the approach of an arrogant and out-of-touch government as well as the empty populism of others.
If you look back and consider the commentaries and predictions concerning Fianna Fáil you find a near unanimous failure to recognise or understand what was happening. Since the election there hasn’t been much of a change. People who misrepresented, ignored and opposed us continue to issue regular condemnations and instructions. We will respectfully continue to be more concerned with the opinions of our members and the half a million people who gave us a mandate to represent them.
And quite frankly those who try to dismiss us with the condescending claim that we are simply a ‘civil war party’ need to go read a bit more history. We were founded explicitly because our leaders wanted to move on from the civil war. They wanted to offer a new and more radical republican approach. They succeeded in this and persuaded hundreds of thousands of people to move beyond the civil war and support our social and economic programme.
The very core of our approach in the last five years has been to try to understand and respond to the changes which have happened and which people want.
To restore faith in politics we have to accept that the old model of government and politics is broken and cannot continue. The idea that you can only govern if you can control everything which happens in the Oireachtas is completely discredited.
We need a politics which respects important differences between parties and groups and requires a much deeper engagement on substance. This works well in many countries and it can work here if people are willing to try.
We must have a politics where parties genuinely try to implement their core promises and end the days of “ah sure isn’t that what you say in an election”.
There is a depressing cynicism and arrogance in the demands of commentators that Fianna Fáil should quickly abandon a core position stated repeatedly before and during an election. Equally there is a clear lack of ambition or originality in their failure to comprehend how important and positive a development a minority government could be.
We have been and we will continue to be flexible. We are willing to allow a new form of government to develop. It will end the old and discredited approach and it will certainly be more complex – however just simply carrying on as in the past is not an option.
I hope that we will shortly be able to move our politics on to a more inclusive and consensual approach. Within this we will continue to work for the priorities we set before the public. No one in Dáil Éireann will be able to dominate decisions – and this is a good thing. Many mistakes of the past, including the Irish Water fiasco, were firmly founded on the arrogance of a majority government.
The major crises our country faces today in health, housing and many other areas developed because of the policies of the strongest and most stable majority government in recent times. It represents real progress to move to a system with a less arrogant and dominating government – and where all TDs have a right and obligation to contribute.
The challenges we face today are nothing compared to the challenges faced and overcome by the heroes of 1916. They inspired a national awakening and invigorated a republican spirit which still represents our country at its best.
Sa bhliain chomórtha speisialta seo, léiríomar mar náisiún conas is féidir linn breathnú agus machnamh siar ar ár stair i slí uileghabhálach agus ómósach. Cuireadh réabhlóid míle naoi gcéad sé déag i láthair an domhain mar ócáid bhunaidh stáit a mbeadh aon náisiún bródúil aisti.