Northern Ireland news

Michelle O'Neill: Easter is a very special time for Republicans

Mary Lou McDonald and her deputy Michelle O'Neill Picture by Niall Carson/PA Wire

Sinn Fein deputy leader Michelle O’Neill has kicked off the party’s Easter Rising commemorations.

In a video post on Twitter, she said: “Today I want to start by extending solidarity of the Sinn Fein leadership to all the families of our patriot dead.

“Easter is a very special time for us as Republicans.

“Today, we remember the sacrifices of the men and women of 1916, and every generation since who have played their part in the cause for Irish freedom.

“Today we’re going to be joined by singers and by musicians, and we’re so grateful to you all for being part of our commemoration.

“We really hope that you enjoy our commemoration today.”

Marking the anniversary of the 1916 Easter Rising, Sinn Fein president Mary Lou McDonald said she is sending her greetings to the “families and friends of our patriot dead”.

“This year we remember them in a different way, but with the same sense of pride and gratitude and admiration,” she said.

In an online broadcast, Ms McDonald added: “We gather together online, all over Ireland and across the world, to pay tribute to them all.

“104 years ago history was made. Irish separatists, republicans, socialist feminists, and Irish language activists, coalesced in a great revolutionary effort to liberate Ireland, to establish a democratic republic on this island.

“The republican vision of national independence and equality were reflected in the proclamation of the Republic.

“Those ideals motivated by each subsequent generation of Irish Republicans, and we are proud to stand in that revolutionary tradition.”

Ms McDonald added: “On the morning of Easter Rising, many volunteers would have held their loved ones close, kissed their children and in a quiet moment reflected on the enormity of the task ahead.

“This is the stuff of human heroism. It is this heroism that we call on again today.

“Everyday, frontline workers and our health workers in particular leave the sanctuary of their homes knowing that they will face trauma, sorrow and pain, knowing that they face the possibility of a coronavirus infection.

“Yet they still do it. They walk into that storm, they put themselves at risk to help others.”

Ms McDonald also said that Ireland’s values are seen in cities, times, and villages.

“Our people look beyond the concern for themselves to the safety and the wellbeing of others,” she added.

“I want to express my admiration and my thanks to everyone who takes time to check on the elderly and others at risk in our communities because nobody is safe, unless we are all safe.

“Every act of selflessness, no matter how small, helps in our fight against this virus, every act of kindness brings us closer to the shore.

“We should never forget the lessons we have learned in these weeks, that unequal societies are vulnerable societies, economically, as well as socially.

“Public services are the bedrock of a decent society. Those who really keep our economy and our society functioning are not the banks or the hedge funds, not the insurance industry or the vulture capitalists, it’s the nurses and doctors, the lorry drivers and shop workers, farmers, ambulance drivers, paramedics, carers and gardai.”

Ms McDonald also said that the Covid-19 crisis highlights the “negative impact” of partition.

She added: “In the North, Sinn Fein ministers are delivering for the community. We worked hard to see the establishment of an Executive in the North, and our ministers are now to the fore in creating new politics, working with their ministerial colleagues from other parties to protect lives and livelihoods.

“I welcome the recent Memorandum of Understanding agreement between the Northern Executive and the Irish Government to tackle Covid-19 and to protect the lives and welfare of everyone on our island.

“This agreement commits health services, North and South, to developing agreed, public health measures.

“This is essential work. This deadly virus doesn’t recognise borders and working together in common action is in everyone’s interests, and is vital now and in the time ahead to save lives.”

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