The Irish revolution remains “unfinished business,” the crowds gathered at the Saoradh Republican commemoration have been told.
Paul Duffy, delivering the main oration during Saoradh’s Easter Monday commemoration at Derry’s City Cemetery, said the country remained partitioned and struggle for Irish freedom would continue.
Thousands of people attended the event, which began earlier in the day with a parade leaving off from Free Derry Corner.
The parade, led by a colour party, flag bearers and several bands, made its way up to Creggan, where a wreath was laid and the 1916 Proclamation read out.
Addressing the crowds at the Cú Chulainn monument, former republican prisoner Mr Duffy said he stood alongside those gathered as a “proud Irish Republican”.
“Easter is a special occasion for Irish Republicans,” he said. “Today here in Derry, as we have done throughout Ireland over this Easter period, we remember all those Republicans from our generation and other generations who gave their lives in the struggle for Irish freedom. We honour them in a way that is befitting for true patriots.
“We are a proud and resilient people. We are proud of our families, we are proud of the revolutionary struggle we have embarked upon, and we are proud of our history.
“Derry has a long history steeped in the proud Republican and socialist tradition.
“In the early days of the United Irishmen, who set out to break the connection with Britain, Derry Republicans were among those who suffered at the hands of the British colonial tyranny.
“It is from here rebels from this city travelled to Dublin in 1916 and post-1916 to join with fellow revolutionaries to confront with arms the might of the British empire.
“The Republican and socialist tradition in this city has endured the many arduous campaigns of resistance against the British imperialism and yet here we defiantly stand.
“We stand here in defiance of all that Britain has invoked on the Irish people.
“We stand here in honour of all those who have fallen in the fight against British imperialism, and who are laid to rest in the cemeteries throughout Ireland.
“They are not just heroes, patriots, and revolutionaries. They are our family members, our friends and our comrades.
“Just as all those who have gone before them did, they were not oblivious to the dangers they faced, the military capacity and ruthlessness of the British state and the treasonous actions of the Free State political establishment, but they remained steadfast in their commitment to bring about revolutionary change in Ireland.”
To a round of applause he added: “It remains an unfinished revolution. Comrades, we still have unfinished business.” Mr Duffy said that the impact of social agitation and political activism should not be underestimated, along with political campaigning “outside the accepted structures of the enemy”.
Earlier, former republican prisoner Paddy McGilloway read out a statement on behalf of prisoners currently incarcerated at Maghaberry and Portlaoise.
Mr McGilloway said: “It is with pride that we pay respects to the women and the men who fought for Irish freedom at Easter 1916, and all of those who have given selflessly and dedicated their lives to this just struggle.
“Easter provides us with an opportunity not only to pay tribute to these martyrs, but to reflect on our contribution thus far and to give commitment and to rededicate our efforts to bring this unfinished revolution to a successful conclusion.
“We the Republican prisoners at Maghaberry and Portlaoise jails are encouraged to see the progressive development from the establisment of Saoradh and increased cohesion that has been brought about within the Republican base.
“This Easter time we salute the IRPWA (Irish Republican Prisoner Welfare Association) for their dedicated work on behalf of our families and their unwavering support for ourselves and our families.
“We are Republican prisoners because we adhered to the ideals of 1916 and refused to accept any form of British rule in our country.”
The prisoners have also pledged to use their imprisonment to assist in the building of a Republican political activist base.
“For Republicans, 1916 remains unfinished business but we are confident of ongoing success both behind these walls and on the outside, for we know in the world change is a cast iron certainty. Only a fool would believe in the permanence of the current order,”.
The prisoners said the task ahead was to shape that change.