On Sunday March 3rd Republicans gathered in Derry's Bogside to commemorate the former Life Vice President of Republican Sinn Féin, Seán Keenan.
A full report will be in the March edition of SAOIRSE: Irish Freedom, The Voice of the Republican Movement.
The event was chaired by Micky McGonagle from Dungiven, Co. Derry. Fergal Moore, RSF Ard Chomhairle gave a decade of the Rosary ós Gaeilge and Cáit Trainor, RSF Vice-President read the 1916 Proclamation of the Irish Republic. The oration was delivered by RSF Ard Chomhairle member, Seán Dolan, Westmeath which can be read below;
“As the bureaucrats, speculators and presidents alike, Pin on their dirty, stinking, happy smiles tonight, The lonely prisoner will cry out from within his tomb, And tomorrow’s wretch will leave its mother’s womb!”
Bobby Sands – Modern Times
Those words penned by Bobby Sands in his poem, Modern Times speak a volume about the times we are in today. Despite the intensive process of normalisation and criminalisation, which is aided by a great percentage of the political class on both sides of the Border, our revolution has not failed, it was not defeated unilaterally by the British, rather it was betrayed from within, and weakened as a result of that betrayal. The traitors who today sit in Leinster House and Stormont have condemned another generation of Republican revolutionaries to a life of struggle, history will again repeat itself, pain and suffering will yet be endured on all sides.
The revolutionary struggle for Irish freedom, for independence and for an unconditional sovereignty with which we can determine our own future has not gone away. Instead it grows in strength. Republicanism has gone through a low ebb but more people in all counties are beginning see through the veil of lies by the corrupt career constitutionalists who have bartered away our country’s integrity. Those who sit in Leinster House and Stormont might as well dig up the bones of our martyred patriots and scatter them as to pay lip service whilst in the bosom of British domination as it is an equally an insult. They have utterly betrayed everything every Irishman and woman who died for this nation stood by.
Seán Keenan was one such man. He was a veteran of the struggle from as early as the 1940s. He was interned without trial on three different occasions, firstly in the early to mid-forties. He was again interned without trial during the Resistance Campaign in 1957 and was released in ’61. Ten years would pass by and again Seán was to face internment, this time in 1971. During this time his son Colm, 19, was an active volunteer in the Army of the Republic and was shot dead by the Brits here in the Bogside along with his 18-year-old comrade Eugene McGillan. Seán spent fifteen years without trial or reason in British concentration camps and despite everything and all the suffering endured throughout his entire life Seán Keenan was an unwavering revolutionary to the end. He was an able Republican in every sense of the word. He followed no man, only the cause, and it was this fundamental honesty and truth that made sure he would never be led astray by anyone.
In 1986 the Adams – McGuiness leadership prepared well. Decisions at Cumann level were manipulated in favour of dropping abstentionism. Seán Keenan was Honorary Life President of Derry Sinn Féin and he also happened to be one of the most critical opponents of entering Leinster House. For this reason despite his position he was not chosen as a delegate for that Ard-Fheis. Tensions were high as a misguided membership were led astray by the treachery of Adams and McGuiness, perhaps it was for this reason when he arrived at the Mansion House he was denied entry. At the time of his death in 1993 he was the honorary Life-Vice President of Republican Sinn Féin.
If Seán Keenan were alive today he would be disgusted and dismayed at the complete turn his former comrades have taken. As we stand here today, at Free Derry, we must ask ourselves, how free is it? How free is any part of Ireland when Derry of all places can be called a ‘UK’ capital of culture. This is both a disgrace and an insult. A disgrace to those who died and sacrificed all for Ireland and an insult to those who today believe that the Irish nation is and always has been a separate and distinct entity. We cannot and must not accept this attempt by the British to pacify Ireland.
Martin McGuiness was quoted as saying he was “over the moon”. “We've won on our merits. This in an evening when hope and history rhymes in Derry.” – But it is not the same hope and history that rhymed in the hearts and souls of those like Seán Keenan who laid all on the line for the freedom of Ireland. The actions and words of Martin McGuiness are as well executed as those of any informer that ever sullied the ranks of the Republican Movement. At this time he is no more and no less than a sickening tool of British imperialism.
I want to send solidarity greetings to all genuine Republican POWs at home and abroad and in particular to Martin Corey and Marian Price. Like Seán Keenan before them we can see that the nature of the British government when dealing with Irish citizens has not changed. Next month Martin will have spent his third year in prison without any reason whatsoever. We must all redouble our efforts and challenged those in positions of power in every way we can and we must be direct about it. We must also spare a thought for Michael Campbell who being held in dire conditions in Lithuania. We call for his immediate repatriation on humanitarian grounds.
The abuse of republican prisoners has been going on too long. It is time political status is restored and internment ended. Over the next year Republican Sinn Féin will continue to campaign on behalf of the POWs. Beginning this Easter RSF will be putting forward our long-term vision on two important fronts. National and International.
At a national level, we will be launching over the Easter period the Seven Signatories Manifesto which will basically be Republican Sinn Féin policy broken down into layman’s terms so it is more easily understood by the general public and will make clear in a positive way what republican revolutionaries want to achieve and how it will benefit the people. On St Patrick’s Day a short video will be available online outlining the Seven different areas which will be covered between now and 2016 and at Easter Commemorations organised by Republican Sinn Féin the pamphlet outlining the same will be distributed free of charge.
At an international level, the Irish Anti-Imperialist Forum is set to take place in Belfast on June 14 and 15 and will serve as an alternative to the G8 summit in Fermanagh, the dates do not conflict however so activists can make it to both events. Delegates from various anti-imperialist organisations will provide a worldwide view of imperialism. Political and community activists from throughout Ireland will discuss the various political, social and economic aspects of imperialism from an Irish perspective. Such a debate at national and international level can be used to chart a way forward towards building an Irish and international alternative to the neo-liberal political and economic policies of the G8.
An Phoblacht Abú.