ANTI INTERNMENT RALLY – DUBLIN 09/11/2013
SPEECH FINAL DRAFT – MALACHY STEENSON
Firstly I want to thank all of you who have come here today to express your opposition to the re-introduction of Internment on this island. Many of you will recall the last occasion when Internment was introduced, in 1971, fewer among you will recall it in the 40’s and 50’s.
For the younger people here there recollection will come from ballads like the Men Behind the Wire, with the song and the introduction setting out the events on Monday the 9th of August 1971 as they unfolded, it talks of how fathers and sons were dragged from their beds at 5.30 am and brought to Long Kesh were they were held without charge or without trial for a number of years, the National & international response was instant and the British Government was condemned around the world. The response on the streets was instant and Republican activists engaged in heavy military conflict with Crown forces,
The British State’s response was brutal no more so than on the 31st January 1972 when an anti internment march in Derry was attacked by Crown Forces who shot 13 civilians dead.
Unlike many Irish men, the British Government learns from history and does not repeat the same mistakes again, this time round they are acting more subtly they are picking people up one by one and locking them up. There is no major public concern no public outcry and the process continues. It saddens me and I’m sure all of you that some of those who were interned themselves in 1971 now hold the keys to the cells of Martin Corey and others.
Let me also state here today that internment is not confined to the North of Ireland in the South we have Internment by remand, there is an increasing number of men being charged with membership offences and held without bail and when the trial comes around the charges are withdraw.
Why have they brought in internment, what is it that they fear, why is it that a complicate media will tell us those interned are dissidents bent on returning to war. Nothing could be further from the truth, they are interned because they are able to and continue to articulate a Republican message.
Let them call us that they will, as I look around this very street, this sacred ground, this battlefield site, that the establishment wants to turn into a shopping centre, this ground were this Nation declared its independence, were the Republic was brought into being by the blood sacrifice of Pearse and Connolly the Dissidents of their day, I look across to the statute of another dissident the great Jim Larkin, who proclaimed
“The Great only appear Great because we are on our Knees, Let us Arise”
At the other end of the Street I see a massive statue to Parnell, who proclaimed “that no man should put a stop to the march of an Nation.
Wolfe Tone, Robert Emmet, Henry Joy were all dissidents in their day, to be cast into such company is an honour, it also foists upon us a responsibility to continue the work they begun and to bring it to its conclusion.
It is because men like Martin Corey and others are prepared to continue to argue like those great dissidents that they must be removed.
Let us also be clear the use of internment is but only one weapon in their arsenal, the establishment class in this County and in England are prepared to attack every aspect of our identity and culture, we are under attack from a form of cultural imperialism. We have saw how they have used the GAA to drive home their message firstly by allowing Crown Forces to join, then welcoming the Commander of the Brit’s Army to Croke Park and now demanding that our clubs are not named after Irish Martyrs, no doubt the GAA will sell out again the Sam Maguire will no doubt be called the O2 cup and Casement Park called after some insurance company, while many of us may disagree with Joe Brolly particularly when he is talking about the current All Ireland Champions he gave them their answer in relation to his own club in Dungiven called after Kevin Lynch who played for the club and who died on Hunger Strike for political status in 1981.
Let us recall those dark days of 1980 and 1981, which followed on from the blanket and dirty protest begun by Kieran Nugent, who was to die a number of years ago a man broken and abandoned, the 1980 hunger strike which was led by the late Brendan Hughes ended with a deal in place which was reneged on by the British Government, the subsequent hunger strike led to the deaths of ten brave men who gave their lives for political status. They gave their lives to proclaim that they were not criminals and that the cause for Irish Freedom was not criminalised. Little did they know at the time that not alone was Thatcher prepared to let them die but elements of their own leadership conspired to prolong the strike in order to push their political careers and ego’s. Most particularly led by the person who proclaims that he is the leader of Irish Republicanism, will he speaks at dinners in the US where a table costs €2,500.
Martina Anderson a Provisional Sinn Fein MEP recently said during meetings I discussed the plight of the nearly 5000 prisoners in gaols. Many Political activists are rounded up, arrested and held indefinitely on what the Government refers to as “Administrative Detention” and held for years, she called for the release of such prisoners and is campaigning in the EU Parliament to generate support for their cases within and across the EU.”
Of course she was talking about Palestinian Prisoners being held by the Israeli Government and not those Irish men and women being held by the Stormont assembly.
In the 1940’s during the second World War Republicans were interned in the South in case they might use Britain’s distraction to continue the War of Independence in this Country, during the Border campaign in the 1950’s men were interned in the Curragh, and then in the 1970 in the North.
These men were detained not because of anything they had done but because of what the might do. Likewise today does the British Government believe that Marin Corey now in his 60’s in going to go on active service lying in fields to ambush crown forces, No they are afraid of his views, they are afraid that if he is freed that he will influence other young men to complete the task that he spent most of his life in jail for. They are afraid of the influence that he might have, just as they were afraid of the voice of Marian Price, and we are glad to have welcomed her home. But let us be also clear they did not willingly release her release came about after a massive campaign and also because of her ill health.
The removal of the long fought for rights as prisoners won by the hunger strikers to be classified as Special Category or Prisoners of War, was removed by the Provisional’s in the Good Friday Agreement, the forced strip searching of prisoners continues, whilst this is difficult for men it is more so for women prisoners like Sharon Rafferty. This is a breach of their civil and human rights, let their is silence from the so called women’s rights campaigners, no doubt if it was happening in China of Syria they would have plenty to say, but not when it’s done to Irish women in British jails.
Let us be very clear about who is holding these men and women in prison, let us be clear on who removed political status, and let us also be clear who has the power to end interment of Irish men and women and that is The Provisional Alliance, Provisional Sinn Féin sits in Stormont administering British rule in the North of Ireland. They encourage Nationalists to join the Crown forces, they are prepared to light up City Hall in Belfast in red to commemorate those who have waged war on the Irish people for centuries but yet they are not prepared to stand up and say stop. This is even more saddening for many of us in light of the fact that many of them are former prisoners themselves.
Let me also say to those of you here who may be members of the Provisional’s or are considering voting for them in the next elections, raise this issue with them, don’t listen to their lies or denials, and remember that during the Hunger Strike some naive republicans believe that the Taoiseach in power at the time Charles Haughey would not let Bobby Sands die, but he died, so have no more fate in the current leader of new Fianna Fail Mr. Adams.
This State and the Provisional’s fear genuine Republicans and the message they have for the people of this country, they fear the risen people they fear a people versed in their own history that is why they have removed History from being a compulsory subject at Junior Cert level, they fear a people confident and able to speak their own language that is why they have taught Irish in schools in such way that students coming through the educational system would be unable to use the language on a day to day basis, they fear a people confident to play their own games that is why they seek to destroy the ethos of the GAA and promote soccer and rugby. They are afraid of a proud and confident people loyal to the Nation, loyal to the Republic declared at this holy spot, they seek to replace the Nation with the State, they are afraid of young people that is why the are exporting them around the world in their tens of thousands, that is why they have cut their welfare and introduced slave labour through internships where the wage is €3.75 per hour.
The blood red poppy the symbol of British Imperialism is now worn openly on these streets and this State has given it a higher status than the Easter lily, they will rush to commemorations to tomorrow to remember those who butchered men, women and children in this country and also continue to do so around the world
It is because people like Martin Corey are prepared to say there is a better way that they are interned.
What can we do to stop this injustice, it’s not sufficient to come here today and then go off about your business and forget about it. We must all act.
In the words of Bobby Sands “We all have our part to play, no one’s part is bigger or more important than anyone else’s”
You must arm yourself with the facts, you must educate you friend and relations, and you must expose the hypocrisy of others. You must stand up and be counted, you must seek every opportunity to get the message that internment must end across to people.
When you raise this issue with people they will generally respond that they thought internment was gone you must tell them the truth. It’s not enough to sing of Joe Mc Donnell and others in the pubs at night, and then sit back and do nothing while Martin Corey lies in a cold prison cell.
You must use the media particularly the radio chat shows to highlight this issue, if you are not confident to go on these programmes yourself you should text them, in today’s day and age we are continually reminded of the power of social media, those of you with twitter accounts should be assisting in trending *releasemartincorey on you phones now. Use your Facebook accounts to highlight this issue
In the words of hunger striker Terence Mc Sweeney
“If but few are faithful found, they must be all the more steadfast for being a few.”
We are that few we must be resolute in our determination we must be active on a daily basis to bring the injustice of internment to an end.
I want to finish with a quote from Martin Niemöller who was a prominent Protestant pastor who was an opponent Adolf Hitler and the Nazi and spent the last seven years of Nazi rule in concentration camps.
First they came for the Socialists, and I did not speak out–
Because I was not a Socialist.
Then they came for the Trade Unionists, and I did not speak out–
Because I was not a Trade Unionist.
Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out–
Because I was not a Jew.
Then they came for me–and there was no one left to speak for me.
Thank you all for listening lets now do our bit to End Internment