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Irish republicans are entitled to use ‘whatever means' to end partition, says former IRA hunger striker Bernard Fox

Bernard Fox addresses the crowd at the éirígí 1916 centenary parade in Milltown Cemetery. Picture by Matt Bohill
John Monaghan

IRISH republicans are entitled to use "whatever means" necessary to bring about an end to partition, a former Provisional IRA hunger striker has said.

Bernard Fox, who spent 22 years in prison, told the éirígí 1916 centenary parade in Belfast that republicans "cannot be hypocrites and condemn those who use military methods."

The éirígí parade began from the junction of the Whiterock and Falls Road in west Belfast yesterday and proceeded the short distance to Milltown Cemetery.

Following a short wreath-laying ceremony at James Connolly’s former home on the Falls, young people paraded with portraits of the Rising leaders, while a piper provided music at the head of the march.

At Milltown, there was a rendition of Amhrán na bhFiann and a minute's silence before former republican prisoner Liam McCotter read the Proclamation.

Congregating at the plot of Fenian William Harbinson, an éirígí spokeswoman told the assembled crowd that it was "important to keep our enemies guessing as we move past this centenary."

She said: "We have demonstrated the ability to reorganise and rise once again....throughout our history political negotiations have been used as a tactic to divide and conquer.

"The British government have attempted to project themselves as an international moral compass. We must never let the despots in 10 Downing Street present themselves as anything else."

Delivering the keynote address, Bernard Fox said he was sure that the centenary commemorations were "confusing for the youth of today."

Mr Fox said: "How come there are so many groups holding commemorations? It is called spin."

"Some people would have you believe that the Rising was a mistake, that the British government were going to grant Home Rule.

"Home Rule had been on the statute books for four years. While Redmond was being promised Home Rule, the same British government was also promising Carson there would be no Home Rule."

Mr Fox paid tribute to several former republican prisoners, including Gerard 'Jock' Davison, who he said was "murdered by British inspired gangsters" and Rose Dugdale, who is currently suffering from illness.

The Belfast man said "no republican can be happy" with the "current state of affairs", and condemned republicans who supported and gave information to the PSNI, which he described as "disgraceful."

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