A picket was held in Edward Street in Lurgan on Saturday, 10th May followed by a Rally.
A crowd of approximately 80 people braved the heavy rain to show their support for the Republican PoWs currently incarcerated in the Six Occupied Counties. A picket was held in Edward Street in Lurgan on Saturday, 10th May followed by a Rally.
A statement was read from the O/C of the Republican PoWs in Maghaberry Gaol. It read:
“It is an honour to address you here today. We salute you, the Republican people, our families and friends who support us as we continue our fight for Political Status. Previous attempts by the Brits and their puppets to criminalise us was met with the necessary resistance and this is still the case today.
“We continue to be punished for refusing to take drug tests in order to receive the same standards of education available to rapists and thugs. We have continually stated that we do not partake in the drug culture and refuse to seek to be labelled as enhanced prisoners. We are Prisoners of War and we will continue to oppose all attempts to criminalise us.
“In today's struggle we are being labelled as traitors and worse by Martin McGuinness and his colleagues, and by the continuation of the Brit black propaganda machine. This is an old British tactic formulated in London by MI5, and ably assisted in their work by our former comrades led by Gerry Adams. We are not the traitors. The former Republicans who sit in the bastion of Unionism and administer British rule are the real traitors to Ireland and her dead generations. They have turned their backs on the Republican Cause and have betrayed our Freedom Struggle. They have sought to renounce the right to wage war against the British, whilst falsely claiming the name Óglaigh na hÉireann. Adams and Co. do not own the rights to the Irish Republican Army, and we can assure them that the IRA remains alive and well and will continue to bring the fight to the British invaders.
“Internment has been reintroduced under a different name. We ask you to keep up the good work on our behalf and also on behalf of our comrades in Portlaoise. Our path is clear: Onward to a Free United Ireland! Onward to the Democratic Socialist Republic for which so many of our Comrades paid the supreme sacrifice.
“Beidh Ár Lá Linn. Tiocfaidh Ár Lá!”
Republican Sinn Féin Ard-Chomhairle member Fergal Moore then addressed the crowd. He said:
“We gather here today in solidarity with the Republican prisoners held in British Gaols and also in Portlaoise. In particular we think of those prisoners from North Armagh. Republican prisoners are being denied the political status which was won for them through much sacrifice. 28 years ago this week Bobby Sands died an agonizing death rather than allow Republicans to be labelled as criminals.
“Following the deaths of nine more of his comrades, political status was reinstituted in Long Kesh. However, this has all changed with the signing of the Stormont Agreement in 1998. We are told that the war is over and that there are no more political prisoners. Even some of those who were once considered Republicans have labelled Republican acts as criminal acts. The real crime is the continued occupation of Ireland by a foreign and hostile power. So long as this continues, history shows that there will be those who oppose it. Consequently there will be more Republican prisoners.
“We Republican outside the prison walls must organise effectively to protest the denial of political status inside Britain's Gaols. We must highlight the plight of the prisoners and build support for them amongst the general Nationalist population.
“Over the past couple of months we have witnessed the scale of the forces opposing Irish Republicanism. In Lurgan and Craigavon in particular, hundreds of RUC personnel sealed off communities and beat down doors – fighting children and wrecking homes in their quest for vengeance. Irishmen were taken from their homes and families on trumped up charges to wait for months or perhaps years for a show trial to commence. Internment is still with us comrades. But now it is known by the more palatable term of 'remand'.
“Some of those lifted were held for almost a fortnight before any charges were brought. Whilst RSF were calling for their immediate release, others were merely saying that they should be either charged or released. The Brits took the advice to heart and people were promptly charged. In no normal society would such situations be tolerated.
“Only in places that are occupied and ruled by oppressive regimes do these things happen. It would appear that so long as they are only oppressing Republicans then the Brits can do what they wish, and their paid servants in Stormont will cheer them on.
“The Brits and their friends have obviously never read any of Terence Mac Swiney, who said that 'Victory is not won by those who can inflict the most but by those who can endure the most.' Every door that is kicked in strengthens us. Every tear shed by an Irish mother fuels us. The Brits, through their actions, only make us more determined to succeed. They are making the weapons of their own destruction.
“We are here to show support for the Republican prisoners, but we are also here for another great and noble purpose – a purpose for which the prisoners would approve. We are here as part of the ongoing struggle for the All-Ireland Republic. Bobby Sands famously said that 'Everyone has his or her own part to play.' The prisoners are doing all that they can but what are we who are free doing?
“Coming here today, whilst important, is not going to free Ireland. Going to the graves of Tom Harte, Michael Crossey and their comrades – whilst worthy – is not enough. There is only one way that you can ensure that Ireland will be free. There is only one sure way to guarantee that the prisoners will be freed and that is if you join the Republican Movement to help defeat the British Occupation.
“Victory to the Prisoners!
“Victory to the Irish Republic!
“An Phoblacht Abú!”
The proceedings ended with the singing of the National Anthem, Amhrán na bhFiann.