Abjectly Surrendered - No Two Ways About It

John McDonagh (JM) and Sandy Boyer (SB) interview via telephone from Ireland Des Dalton, (DD) President of Republican Sinn Féin, about the arrest  of a speaker at an Easter commemoration in Glasgow.  Appreciation to TPQ transcriber.

WBAi 99.5FM Pacifica Radio
New York City
2 May 2015 

(begins time stamp ~ 42:50)

JM:    And welcome as we lower down on Damien Dempsey singing about colonies and we're going to go over to a colony! In The Six Counties we have Des Dalton on from Republican Sinn Féin. Des, we just had on Jim McDonnell and he said part of the reason that he was arrested at an Easter commemoration in Glasgow is because he spoke one sentence of Irish – which he said: Tiocfaidh ár lá – which, if you went to listen to Mr. Adams, if you want to really get sickened, or Mr. McGuinness, when they come over here to New York, they use that in all their speeches and I have no doubt they use it over in Ireland and in Scotland. But Jim was arrested. Maybe you can set-up about how Republican Sinn Féin organises Easter commemorations throughout Ireland, England and Scotland and even over here in the United States.

DD:    Yeah. Hello, John! Yeah, I mean, this is what Republicans have been doing as you know well yourself - we've been doing it for the last ninety-eight, ninety-seven years, you know what I mean? Republicans have been organising commemorations. We hold them throughout The Thirty-Two Counties and indeed in England and in Scotland and also people associated in the United States and Australia as well. So this is something that's done every year. Commemorations are organised locally. Speakers will travel to the venues, will give an oration - speak a little bit about the history of 1916 and maybe tie it into current politics, current political situations and so on. So this is really run-of-the-mill stuff and it's something that Republicans have been doing for generations.

JM:  But Des, what's going on now is people are arrested at an Easter commemoration for giving a speech – I mean you had the Free State government putting out a brochure and a video talking about the hundredth anniversary of 1916 but putting in nothing about The Uprising. I mean, the re-writing that's going on now in Ireland – it is unbelievable! 

DD:  Absolutely! Agree completely! And what's happening here – exactly!  And it's very sinister and it's very deliberate. Obviously next year, The Centenary, 1916, is still a very important event in Irish history and the British state and The Twenty-Six Counties they recognise that. And what they're trying to do here with arrest of people like Jim McDonnell or indeed Dee Fennell in The Six Counties a couple of weeks back, they're trying to shut the whole thing down – they're trying to drive Republicanism underground and try to shut off the message at source. 


And you know we had an event in Dublin a few weeks ago where we, Republican Sinn Féin, every Easter Monday march down O'Connell Street to the GPO - a commemoration is held. This year they strewed off O'Connell Street. They held some kind of an historical – pageant is the word to describe it – they kind of re-enacted Dublin in 1916 – this was organised by the state and there was thousands of people there. And obviously it's good to see people coming out and people talking about 1916. But - and this is the message that we gave on the day as well – this is sanitising 1916. It's all very well to talk about an historical event but what they're trying to do is remove the message – take that out – take out the element of the fact that 1916 is unfinished business. Whatever else you do – don't talk about that!

Don't talk about the fact of what The Proclamation was about – what those men and women went out to fight for because that's very dangerous for both states because that reminds people of how far short we are now of those high ideals and that's something that the state wants to close down in people now everywhere.

SB:  And Des, this is Sandy Boyer, it looks like we're getting to the point that anybody anywhere in the United Kingdom gets up and says that Ireland should be free is going to get arrested and that seems to be the pattern. 

DD:  Yeah, exactly, Sandy – it looks like that's the direction that we're heading. And this is something for instance that, in the Basque country for many years, to even talk about the concept of a Basque - an independent Basque state or Basque nation - meant people were being arrested, organisations were banned – you know cultural organisations – trade unions – and it looks like we're heading in that direction now more in The Six and The Twenty-Six County states in Ireland where, as you say, merely even talking about the idea of a free Ireland or questioning the status quo in any way means that people can be arrested. And I know that coming up on the statue books in The Twenty-Six Counties – they already announced I think it was last August - the Justice Minister here, Frances Fitzgerald, announced that they're introducing legislation which likewise will be used to scruitinise speeches and orations and so on and anybody that is   quote/unquote “glorifying terrorism” in any way can be liable to be arrested. 

So yeah – what they're doing is they're trying to strip down the message, they're trying to close it all off. I think what they're trying to do basically with The Centenary and everything else that's coming up is to draw a line under Irish history - all of this is over now and people that even talk about it, that even discuss it or even raise the ideas or the principles that were enunciated at the time and put them out there for discussion you know - you arrest those people – that's the message they're sending. And yes, it's very deliberate. At the same time it's probably a back-handed compliment to say that militant Republicanism has died -  well, it's quite obvious that there's a message there that they still fear.  

SB:  Now Des, when they arrested Jim McDonnell for saying the words Tiocfaidh ár lá they tried to brand that somehow as anti-Protestant, sectarian – now that's – nothing could be further from the truth! 

DD:  Absolutely! It's a nonsense. This is something that I know that they've tried before and in Scotland I believe a few years ago there was a  James Connelly march for instance – in Edinburgh I think it was – and they had to deal with this legislation as it was being described as a sectarian event – and nothing could be further from the truth. This is Republicanism. This is Irish Republicanism. It's about sending out a message for all sections of the Irish people and internationally. I'll just even give you an example recently they were announcing that the Charles Windsor of the British royal family is coming this month to visit part of Ireland and I went on radio talking about the fact that Republicans will be protesting against it. And one of the media people put it to me that it actually could be construed that what I was saying was incitement to hatred.    

So, for simply saying that a visit by a representative of the British state to any part of Ireland whilst that state continues to occupy our country is incitement to hatred?  Now, that's absolutely ridiculous! But that's exactly the kind of language that they're trying to couch all of this in to try and take away the credibility of Republicanism – trying to undermine it. And that's the kind of insidious kind of stuff that we're up against really, yeah. 

JM:  Des, I want to get into a speech or a statement that was made in The Twenty-Six County Dáil by Gerry Adams. Gerry Adams was being hammered by Fine Gael and they're to-ing and fro-ing – and Gerry Adams actually got up and said: Well, we ended the war in The North. Like, this is the equivalent like he's saying that the Germans saying we ended the war after Dresden or the Japanese saying we ended the war. The bizarre-ness that is coming out of Provisional Sinn Féin and what they think 1916 is. So essentially Gerry Adams, who was part of that war, now says that he ended the war – he had a switch – he turned it on and then he turned it off.

DD:  Yeah, exactly. This is again – this is the re-writing of history that people like Adams and others within the Provisionals are actively engaged in. And all they're trying to do is retrospectively justifying where they are now. Exactly. They're saying they ended quote/unquote “the war”. The fact is (inaudible) still people that are going to gaol for things that happened twenty-five, thirty, forty years ago. So it may well be for Mr. Adams and his cronies that the war is over but it's quite obvious for the Brits it's not. And I think that was a point that Ed Moloney I think made a few weeks ago in an excellent article that I read. So, the Brits are obviously sending out a very clear message: Look, your whole struggle was completely illegitimate as far as we're concerned so anything that you did in the conduct of that struggle still leaves you open to charges and we're going to pursue you. And meanwhile, the leadership of that organisation as you said are attempting to re-write all of this and saying the war is over (inaudible). They abjectly surrendered and there's no other two ways about it. I mean, what army in the field surrenders its arms? Surrenders its weapons?

JM:  Well, if you want to administer British rule in Ireland that's what you'd have to do. 

DD:  Exactly. Well, what they did was they signed up - they basically surrendered, not only militarily but politically, and basically signed up to the British position and agreed then to administer – exactly as you said – administer the British state. So look, Mr. Adams has also tried to portray the last forty years as some kind of an armed civil rights campaign – that this wasn't even about ending British rule or partition - it was about achieving civil rights within The Six Counties – I mean, again - turning history on its head. But I mean what they're trying to do again is justify the fact that they're sitting in Stormont. They've moved beyond what any other group ever did before them. Others may have compromised and others collaborated in one way or another but no other group that departed from the Republican position have ever done what Mr. Adams or Mr McGuinness have done. They're in there now not only recognising and upholding it but as you said, are policing it – they're administering it – they're actively collaborating with it so they're position's completely untenable and not even (inaudible) anything Republican. 

JM:  Des, we only have about two minutes left but I want to get into this bizarre situation - I feel sorry for you living in The Twenty-Six Counties with all those gombeen men there wanting now to get a royal pardon from the British government for the men of 1916 that the British government would have to say: You know what?  We forgive you for rising up against us. Will you be looking for a royal pardon? Because I know you were arrested in The Six Counties – I mean, will you be putting in for your royal pardon? 

DD:  Absolutely not! I think the National Graves Association issued a statement a couple of weeks ago and I endorse what they said. I mean, the men and women – this is an insult! Put it in the American context: Are the American people going to look for pardon for George Washington and Thomas Jefferson and the founders of The United States?  I don't think so! 

You know, people like Pearse and Connolly and Clarke and Mac Diarmada and all the rest of the people that went out in 1916 – they went out there to uphold the right of the people of Ireland to the ownership of Ireland. They didn't apologise for that. They did it as they proclaimed themselves to be the provisional government of the Irish people and of the Irish Republic. here's no apologies and there's certainly no pardon – either requested nor indeed would be appropriate in that situation. British rule in Ireland never has been acceptable and never will be acceptable. It's completely unjust, immoral and illegal. So it would be completely contradictory to even go down that road. I know that some people have been talking about it and I think it emanated as far as I know from a British Labour politician. But from a Republican position I think it's an insult actually to the memory of the men and women of that generation to even talk about it in terms of a pardon. 

JM:   Well listen Des, thanks for coming on. And we've had Des Dalton, the president of Republican Sinn Féin for coming on and we'll have you on next month when you have a couple of events coming up. Thanks, Des, for coming on. 

DD:  Thanks very much, John. 
(ends time stamp ~ 54:55)

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