Guest speaker Conor Murphy
The former Deputy First Minister of the North, Martin McGuinness, who was laid to rest in Derry last month, was remembered by MLA, Conor Murphy at the Easter address in Drumboe, Stranorlar, on Sunday afternoon.
In the keynote speech, the MLA and said his party “had lost a hero in recent weeks.”
“Martin McGuinness’s death on 21st March came as a huge shock and loss to the party and his comrades, the people of Ireland and of course his wife Bernie and close family circle.
“Martin was a towering pillar of strength and his commitment and determination never once faltered over forty years of struggle.
“His leadership alongside that of Gerry Adams, and our collective leadership has brought us to the position of political strength that we are in today as the biggest party on this island and the leaders of progressive political change, north and south.”
He added: “I had the personal honour of serving alongside Martin in the Assembly and through many negotiations over the last two decades, and I want to pay tribute to Martin and to his family, to which he was devoted, and which stood behind him through all those difficult years. To them he was a husband, father and grandfather. To his fellow republicans he was a legendary leader.”
He said it was a great honour for him to be in Drumboe to “honour all those who have struggled for Irish freedom in every generation.”
He continued: “In particular, in this place we remember four brave volunteers of Oglaigh na hEireann who came to Donegal to continue the fight for the Republic, a 32-county Republic, and tragically were cruelly murdered by the counter revolutionary forces who led the Free State.”
“I especially want to welcome the families and friends of our patriot dead here today.
“Our task today, and for the time ahead, is to secure the dream, to realise the Republic declared in the Proclamation, to create the type of Ireland that does justice to the sacrifice of those who gave their lives for its freedom.
“Easter 1916 was so hugely significant in both Irish and republican history because it captured not only the public imagination, but also the spirit of generations since, who have for over a century of revolutionary struggle worked, fought and died for Irish freedom,” he said.
The MLA went on: “On Easter Monday, April 24th, 1916, Pádraig Pearse marched with a small number of comrades to the General Post Office and read aloud the Proclamation of a new Republic. The 1916 Easter Rising was a declaration of freedom heard all around the world. The patriots of 1916 believed that a better Ireland is possible.
“So do we,” he said.
“And to achieve it – to win their freedom – to win our freedom - they put everything on the line - including their own lives. A century on, Irish republicans continue to strive towards the new Republic as imagined by the Citizen Army and Irish Volunteers of 1913 and Cumann na mBan in 1914, the leaders of the Easter Rising in 1916, the First Dáil and the Democratic Programme of 1919 and the modern-day republican icons of 1981.”
He added: “The ending of partition, a British government disengagement from the North and the restoration to the Irish people of the right to exercise sovereignty, independence and national self-determination remain the only political solution for everyone on this island concerned with its future.”