On Easter weekend I remembered Ireland’s patriot dead by wearing my Easter lily and attending one of my locally organised Easter commemorations. I believe that Easter is a time to reflect on the sacrifices of fallen comrades and party politics and agendas should be set aside to pay fitting tributes through commemorations or wreath laying’s for those who paid the ultimate sacrifice for Irish freedom. Each commemoration regardless of who the organiser should be given the respect they deserve as they pay tribute to fallen Óglaigh. This year I attended the éirígí commemorations in Belfast in order to not only show my support for éirígí but to honour Ireland’s patriot dead with pride with so many like-minded thinkers.
The parade wasn’t led by masked men dawning military fatigues or toy soldiers but by neatly dressed party members wearing black and whites. It was refreshing to see that the national flag was carried by a female and that half of the colour party was made up of females, this is clearly reflective of éirígís progressive politics. It was also inspiring to see that the colour party was made up of all young people and all marching in a neat, disciplined and coordinated fashion.
The parade didn’t consist of loads of bands and all the pageantry that can be seen at other commemorations. It wasn’t a carnival like atmosphere with ice cream vans and crowds waving mini flags and plastic green, white and orange hammers. The parade consisted of the colour party followed by a single band, then children carrying portraits of the leaders of 1916 and then by two lines of several hundred walking in remembrance of those who have fallen.
The route of the march was lined by the armoured jeeps of the states militia clearly threatened by the mobilisation of a progressive people. Unlike other commemorations the majority of the participants followed the march into Milltown cemetery to hear the main oration by éirígí chairperson Brian Leeson. The proceedings were chaired by éirígís Padraic MacCoitir and the proclamation read by former POW and Independent councillor Angela Nelson.
Brian Leeson gave a rousing speech as the watchful eye of a PSNI helicopter flew closely overhead. He spoke of the 100th anniversary of the Rising next year and how communities need to be collectively organising to ensure that we pay fitting tributes to those who fought in the rising rather than the ones that the lackeys and yuppies within the Free State government have planned.
I left felling remotivated, refreshed and determined. There is no greater way to honour those who fought and died in 1916 and those before and after than to continue to pursue progressive analysis, thought and initiatives and to continue to mobilise, to educate and to build resistance within working class communities until we achieve the ideals set out by Connolly, Pearse and the rest of the leaders of 1916.