by Alan Jacques
SINN Féin President Gerry Adams spoke of the importance of remembering those who have died in the cause of Irish freedom as he unveiled a new monument in County Limerick to 1916 hero Con Colbert.
The Louth TD visited Athea last Saturday for the unveiling of the monument to Colbert, who was executed after the 1916 Easter Rising. He said he was honoured to be in attendance and extended a very special welcome to Con Colbert’s relatives including great-niece Aida Colbert-Lennon and great grandniece Gráinne Buckley.
“It is very, very important that Irish citizens remember and honour women and men like Con Colbert and I want to commend the local committee for leading the way here in County Limerick with this monument,” he said.
“The 1916 Rising in which Con played such a valiant role was a proud and momentous event in the history of the Irish nation. Despite what some of our political opponents have recently tried to claim, Sinn Féin has never tried to ‘claim ownership of 1916’.”
Instead, he maintained, that Sinn Féin has sought to popularise the centenary and place the message of the 1916 Proclamation at the centre of commemorative events. He also made out that some in the political establishment don’t want to talk about the republican and egalitarian message of the proclamation.
“This reluctance has been reflected in their approach to marking the Centenary of the Rising. From the initial shambolic launch of its commemorative programme, the Government has been playing catch-up with popular opinion on this issue.
“At every stage they have sought to sanitise and de-politicise the events of Easter Week. They have refused to agree to the request from Sinn Féin for a public holiday to mark this momentous event in our history.
“We must be one of the few countries in the world not to have a day which is a celebration of nationhood and the sacrifices of those who struggled for independence. But the centenary will be marked by Irish people next year through popular events at home and abroad and Sinn Féin will be part of that.”
Gerry Adams was welcomed to Athea by Cllr Seamus Browne who is the party’s candidate in County Limerick for the forthcoming General Election.
Cllr Browne said that Sinn Féin is firmly wedded to the politics espoused in the proclamation and the ideals that inspired Con Colbert.
“That means ending the marginalisation of rural Ireland, tackling the housing crisis, and protecting our vital public services.However, realising that vision means making very different choices to ones made by government over the past four and a half years,” he added.