Ahead of this Sunday’s annual Easter Commemoration Derry Sinn Fein chairperson Andrew McCartney reveals changes taking place to prepare for the 100th anniversary of the rising in 2016.
It’s been 97 years since Patrick Pearse read the Proclamation outside the GPO to herald the start of the Easter Rising.
The Proclamation is not just an historical document; it is a living manifesto which continues to guide our republicanism to the present day.
The expression of that republicanism has changed since 1916 but the ultimate goal remains the same.
The way we remember and commemorate the Easter Rising, and all those who have made the ultimate sacrifice for Irish freedom, has changed over the years as well.
This Easter as we gather to remember our republican dead and rededicate ourselves to the ideals of 1916, there will be further changes.
2016 will mark the 100th Anniversary of the 1916 Easter Rising and republicans across Ireland and indeed across the world will mark this significant anniversary in a major way.
It is our intention that Derry will play an important role in marking the centenary as well.
In preparation for this we are embarking this year on a number of changes to our annual Easter commemorations.
These changes are designed to maximise the attendance at all of our commemorative events and to lay the ground for a massive event in 2016.
The times of our local wreath laying ceremonies, with the exception of the one in the Waterside, will change.
All of these will now be timed to finish just as our main parade is assembling. The Shantallow and Waterside local wreath laying ceremonies will be at 1pm with activists being transported immediately afterwards to Westland Street to join the main parade.
The Creggan and Bogside/Brandywell local wreath ceremonies will begin at 1.30pm and once they have concluded participants at both events will march to meet up with the main parade which will assemble at Westland Street at 2pm and move off at 2.15pm.
The main parade will no longer follow the old route but instead will proceed up Westland Street and up the New Road into the City Cemetery.
All of these changes are designed to maximise participation at all of our commemorative events on Easter Sunday.
It is our intention to build on the changes as we move toward Easter 2016, when it is hoped that we can mobilise republicans from across the city, marching out of local areas in huge numbers, joining together at an agreed point and then finishing at the Republican Plot in the City Cemetery to pay a fitting tribute to the heroes of 1916 and all those brave Irish republicans who have sacrificed their lives since then.
Easter is a special time for republicans. It is a time when we reflect on where we are at in our struggle for Irish freedom.
It is a time for us to rededicate ourselves to finishing that struggle and to create a New Ireland.
We remember with pride the sacrifices made in 1916 and in every phase of the struggle since.
On Sunday 31st March, Easter Sunday, I ask all Derry republicans to attend your local wreath laying ceremony and then gather in massive numbers at our main parade to commemorate our Fallen Heroes.
The main speaker at this year’s main commemorative event will be Pearse Doherty TD who, through his effective challenges to the government in the 26 Counties, ensures the ideals contained in the Proclamation are still heard in the Oireachtas. His insight and political vision continue to highlight just how far those in power in the state have strayed from the path so clearly laid out in that revolutionary document.
Let’s commemorate the sacrifice made by previous generations but in doing so commit ourselves to ensuring that that sacrifice was not in vain.
Let’s create the New Republic that, in the words of the Proclamation, cherishes all the children of the nation equally.