Micheál Martin slams Sinn Féin over claims of 1916 links

Fianna Fáil leader says Sinn Féin pretending 1916 exhibition is independent

Members of the Graveside Honour Guard drawn from the 91st Cadet Class during the 1916 Leaders Commemoration Ceremony at the Arbour Hill Cemetery last year. File photograph: Alan Betson / The Irish Times

Members of the Graveside Honour Guard drawn from the 91st Cadet Class during the 1916 Leaders Commemoration Ceremony at the Arbour Hill Cemetery last year. File photograph: Alan Betson / The Irish Times

 

It is “an outrage” that the Provisional Republican Movement has “sought to re-write history and claim direct continuity from 1916”, Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin has said today.

Speaking during the party’s annual 1916 commemoration in Arbour Hill, Mr Martin said the 1916 Proclamation remained “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.”

But, Mr Martin added: “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 Féin 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 Féin officer is running it out of Sinn Féin 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.”

“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,” Mr Martin added.

Mr Martin said men and women of 1916 would not have agreed with 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, ” he said.