Relatives of participants in the 1916 Rising have condemned the Saoradh parade which took place in Dublin on Saturday, describing the group as “criminal” rather than “patriotic”.
Families of members of the Irish Citizen Army (ICA) gathered in Dublin's City Hall on Wednesday to lay wreaths in memory of the garrison of men and women who took over the building on April 24th, 1916. They were joined by Sabina Higgins, wife of President Michael D Higgins, Lord Mayor of Dublin Nial Ring and Siptu general secretary Ethel Buckley.
Attendee Robert Norgrove said the annual commemorative event was an important reminder of the “social justice” ideals of the ICA members who were stationed in City Hall. Their fight was not only for the Republic but for the people living in the tenements, the sick and those without access to education, he said.
Mr Norgrove’s grandfather Alfred George Norgrove, grandmother Maria Ellen Norgrove, aunts Emily and Anna and uncle Frederick all took part in the 1916 Rising.
Asked how his grandparents would feel about the presence of the Saoradh dissident republican group on the streets of Dublin during Easter 1916 commemorations, Mr Norgrove said the organisation was “not representative” of the ideals of participants in the Rising. Saoradh is “more of a criminal organisation than they are a national or a patriotic organisation,” he said. “They’re involved in criminality more than anything else.”
“The people who were originally in the Irish Citizen Army and the old IRA, it was for the purpose of its day. Now they would be saying protest, raise your voice and get involved in things like homelessness and education. They wouldn’t be throwing their weight around saying bombs and bullets and arms.”
Mr Norgrove added that Northern Ireland’s political “vacuum” was at risk of leading to further instability north of the Border.
“When people won’t take their seats and operate a government you have a vacuum. It’s never anything good that fills that vacuum.”
Jacinta Stenson, whose grand-uncle John Nolan was stationed at City Hall in 1916, agreed that the ideals of Saoradh and the New IRA could not be aligned with the views of those who fought more than a hundred years ago.
“Although a united Ireland is definitely something I would love to see it’s just not the way to go about it. It has to be done through politics peacefully, it cannot be done through violence. We’ve come so far from bombs and guns.”
Ms Stenson described feeling “shocked” and “saddened” by the Saoradh march through Dublin’s city centre.
“I’m sure the rest of the relatives were sickened because it’s not what we represent. We don’t want this paramilitary element involved. They don’t want to talk to people, they just want to fight with violence. There’s no place for that, it’s going backwards and sadly Lyra paid with her life for that.”
Ms Stenson said she and her mother Ann, who also attended Wednesday’s event, were “deeply affected” by journalist Lyra McKee’s death.
“It’s so ironic because she was the generation of the Good Friday Agreement. She was born into peace and to be shot down like that, there’s no words for it.”