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Irish Republican Army (IRA) Easter Statement, 7 April 1996

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Irish Republican Army (IRA) Easter Statement, 7 April 1996

"On this the 80th anniversary of the Easter Rising the leadership of Óglaigh na hÉireann extends greetings to its friends, activists and supporters at home and abroad. We salute them and commend them for their continued support and assistance.

To our imprisoned comrades, their loved ones and families we extend continuing solidarity and support. We salute them. We salute also the Volunteer soldiers of Óglaigh na hÉireann, in Ireland and overseas, and commend them for their continued discipline, fortitude and commitment. We also applaud the leadership and political activists of Sinn Féin for their continuing sterling work in the cause of justice, peace and democracy in Ireland. As we commemorate Easter we remember all those who have died for Irish freedom, we particularly remember Volunteer Eddie O'Brien, who died on active service in England on 18 February. To his family and comrades we extend our heartfelt sympathy.

Last Easter saw great hope and expectation. The IRA initiative of August 1994, which provided an unprecedented opportunity for the realisation of a just and lasting peace, was by then over eight months in train. British intransigence was of course a cause for concern, yet hope remained. That hope and expectation was slowly and relentlessly strangled by a British government which squandered the historic opportunity presented to it. The British, rather than seize the moment, sought only to avoid any meaningful engagement in the Irish peace process. Their adoption of an unashamedly unionist agenda and their adherence to the utterly failed policies of exclusion and marginalisation of republicans led to a deepening and worrying crisis.

The British refused to engage and to persuade unionists to move one millimetre from their trenches. This, together with the disappointing performance of the Dublin government, led to the position where, rather than advancing towards a meaningful negotiations process free from preconditions, the Irish people were again faced with a hardline unionist shopping list underwritten by the British government. At the top of this list is a return to Stormont. That is never going to happen. Partition in Ireland was founded and sustained on injustice and a denial of democracy. It has failed and failed utterly.

The IRA whose mandate for armed struggle derives from Britain's denial of the fundamental right of the Irish people to national self-determination and sovereignty has made its position abundantly clear. We reaffirm that position. The IRA remains fully committed to its republican objectives and for so long as Britain persists in its denial of national and democratic rights in Ireland then the IRA will continue to assert those rights.

The IRA, of course, remains ready to help in developing the conditions which will allow for a meaningful negotiations process, free from preconditions of any kind. The current position of the British, however, prevents all those in Ireland with a democratic mandate from sitting around the negotiating table. The British have no mandate or right in Ireland and they will not be permitted to set preconditions. It is self evident that the British denial of democracy in Ireland is at the core of the conflict. The resolution of that conflict demands justice. It demands a negotiated settlement. That is not possible until the British face up to their responsibilities.

As we commemorate our dead we reaffirm that the republican struggle remains confident. We will face the challenges which lie ahead with the same spirit of unity and determination which have sustained our position in the face of massive British pressure down the long decades of occupation and oppression.

There remains only one place for all the representatives of the Irish people to go and that is to the negotiating table. It is our desire and resolve that they will go there in circumstances which will allow for the core issues at the heart of this conflict to be addressed and resolved. All who seek a genuine and lasting peace in Ireland should work for that same end. We stand ready to meet our responsibilities. Others, not least the British, must do likewise. Beannachtaí na Cásca daoibh go léir."

P O'Neill,
Irish Republican Publicity Bureau, Dublin.

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