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Micheál Martin: The IRA hijacked the Easter Rising, it's time to take it back

‘They have attempted to tarnish events of 1916 in the most appalling way.’

Éamon Ó Cuív and Micheál Martin at today's launch in Dublin.
Éamon Ó Cuív and Micheál Martin at today's launch in Dublin.
Image: Sam Boal/Photocall Ireland

MICHEÁL MARTIN CRITICISED the provisional IRA for ‘hijacking’ the Easter Rising, saying it is time for the people of Ireland to take it back.

Martin said descendants of those involved in the Rising should be able to celebrate its centenary next year ”absolutely without inhibition”, and move on from the republican group’s attempt to tarnish the events of 1916.

“[The Rising] was truly watershed in terms of the history of the country. Not just of this country, but in terms of global events. It was the first colony that the [British] Empire lost and it inspired other countries around the world to strike out for their freedom.

“It is fair to say that others in more modern times, in my view, have tarnished the Rising … and attempted to distort history in a most appalling way to justify acts that could not be justified – and I’m referring to the 30 years campaign by the provisional IRA in the north.

There is no connection or direct link or chain that they sometimes attempt to articulate between the events of 1916, and what transpired in terms of the murder and mayhem in northern Ireland for such a prolonged period there.

Martin was speaking at the launch of Fianna Fáil’s commemoration plans for the centenary of the Rising.

During his speech at the event, Martin got a huge cheer when he declared:

Let me be clear that we believe that 1916 belongs to no party, it belongs to the Irish people.  It is ironic that the only party with no direct connection to 1916 is the one most likely to try and abuse it for political purposes.

Martin said his party’s series of events will complement the government’s plans – which he described as inadequate.

“Unfortunately the allocation of only €1 million to cover the commemoration activities of every council directly undermines the possibility of an ambitious and inclusive calendar of events at local level.”

FF 1916 Events launch 13 Éamon Ó Cuív Source: Conor McCabe

Éamon Ó Cuív is the chairperson of Fianna Fáil’s 1916 commemorative committee. He said that Fianna Fáil is working to ensure its series of events are open to the public.

Our focus is on developing materials and events that bring to life the reality of the Rising, rather than attempting to leverage this great event for party political advantage.

“Our events will be open to the public to allow the history of the rising to be explored by all. I will work to ensure that as many people as possible attend the events so that the Rising gets the recognition it deserves.”

Fianna Fáil leadership

Speaking to reporters ahead of the launch, Martin said he is confident he will lead the party into the next general election.

“We will outperform the polls in the next general election, and of that I am certain,” he added.

Maureen Haughey, wife of former Taoiseach Charlie Haughey and daughter of Seán Lemass, was also at the launch. In a rare interview, she spoke to the media about her father’s involvement in the Rising. We’ll have more on this on TheJournal.ie later today.

Fianna Fáil and Sinn Féin are battling to lead the 1916 celebrations

Over half of those killed in 1916 Rising were civilians

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Órla Ryan

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