Republicans in Derry have been urged to return the largest-ever poll recorded in Derry by Sinn Féin in order to build on the work of previous generations.
Foyle Assembly candidate Martina Anderson made the appeal during the annual Sinn Féin Easter Rising commemoration held in the City Cemetery on Sunday.
More than 700 people attended the commemoration, which was held at the republican monument following a march from the bottom of Westland Street.
The commemoration was chaired by Assembly candidate Paul Fleming, who noted that, as well as having the 95th anniversary of the Easter Rising, 2011 also marks the 40th anniversaries of the deaths of IRA volunteers Eamon Lafferty and James O’Hagan, the 35th anniversaries of Jim Gallagher and Brian Coyle, the 30th anniversaries of George McBrearty and Charles Maguire, and the 25th anniversaries of Tony Gough, Philip McFadden, and Patrick O’Hagan.
Patricia Duddy read the 1916 Proclamation and Deirdre Gallagher then read the Derry Brigade’s roll of honour, listing the IRA members who died during the Troubles.
Mr Fleming then introduced Raymond McCartney, who read the Bobby Sands poem, ‘The Rhythm of Time’.
Wreaths were then laid on behalf of Óglaigh na h’Éireann, Ógra Shinn Féin, Sinn Féin, and the Derry Republican Graves Association. A minute’s silence was then held before Sara Griffin sang a lament while the Tricolour was lowered.
Delivering the main oration, Ms Anderson said the Easter Rising continues to inspire republicans today.
“It was the ideals of equality, self-determination and unity that inspired a younger generation of republicans to take on an oppressive unionist regime and British establishment. Many of them paid the ultimate sacrifice; your husbands, sons, brothers, daughters, and sisters. The volunteer soldiers of the IRA in this city did so with unwavering selflessness and absolute determination that they would be successful,” she said.
The Assembly candidate said their actions paved the way for today’s political developments. “The IRA destroyed the political basis for the unionist regime and fought the British government to a military standstill, creating the political conditions where republicans then fought the British government at the negotiation table,” she said.
Ms Anderson also said there is still work to do and called on all republicans to get involved. “These are exciting times we are living in. There is a part for everyone to play. 1916 saw the coming together of nationalists, republicans, language activists, trade unionists and the women’s movement in the cause for Irish freedom.
“This is a template for republicans today in this city as we seek to build alliances in the cause of a united Ireland based on equality and social justice and we need to reach out to the unionist tradition so they understand republican ideals.
“These are the tasks which face all of us as we contest extremely important elections on Bobby Sands’ 30th anniversary - May 5th.
“Each of you has a role to play either in the planning, the preparation, or the hard work needed on that day. The challenge is to return the largest poll ever recorded by Sinn Féin in Derry.
“I ask you to redouble your efforts and be part of history making. play your part in the end game for Irish unity, complete what our friends and comrades, your loved ones, fought and died for. Do not stand idly by.”