Statement by Des Dalton President of Republican Sinn Féin
It is with great sadness that Sinn Féin notes the passing of Tony Benn. He was truly a man of the highest integrity and principle who was fearless in speaking truth to power and privilege. His famous five questions to be put to those in power are a template for real democratic engagement by people with the political process and a challenge to unaccountable power elites everywhere:
“1. What power do you have? 2. Where did you get it? 3. In whose interests do you exercise it? 4. To whom are you accountable? 5. And, how can we get rid of you? Anyone who cannot answer the last of those questions does not live in a democratic system.” When the leadership of the British Labour Party betrayed the miners of Scotland, Wales and England during the Miner’s Strike of 1984/85 Tony Benn was resolute in his support for them.
He was an internationalist in the truest sense of that word and was consistent in his opposition to imperialism and colonialism. Unlike many who can safely espouse causes that are far removed from them by distance etc Tony Benn was consistent in opposing imperialism and exploitation wherever it was to be found. In this regard he was a true friend of Ireland and spoke out against the British occupation of Ireland, recognising that it was only the Irish people themselves who could resolve any conflict in Ireland.
He recognised the British presence in Ireland as a fundamental cause of the ongoing war in Ireland. Oppressed peoples everywhere have lost a true champion of their cause. Ar dheis Dé go raibh a anam dílis!
Statement by the President of Republican Sinn Féin Des Dalton
The actions of the RUC/PSNII in arresting and charging Diarmuid Mac Dubhghlais a National Treasurer of Republican Sinn Féin for speaking Irish, serves as a reminder that the nature of British Rule in Ireland has not changed. He is charged simply with insisting on his right to converse in the Irish language, reinforcing the point that within the Six-County state it remains a crime to speak Irish. So much for the Strormont Agreement’s commitment to: “full respect for, and equality of, civil, political, social and cultural rights, of freedom from discrimination for all citizens. and of parity of esteem and of just and equal treatment for the identity, ethos and aspirations of both communities.” Such actions expose this for the empty rhetoric that it is. The Six-County state is an abnormal and undemocratic entity whose relationship with the nationalist people is that of a coloniser. Consequently the very markers of a distinct Irish identity such as out language are regarded as a threat to the Six-County state.
Despite promises to introduce an Irish Language Act for the Six Counties nothing has been delivered and that was always the intention of the British Government. Former British Six-County Direct Ruler Peter Hain let ‘the cat out of the bag’ regarding the British government’s real attitude to the Irish language. The newspaper Gaelscéal in 2012 reported Hain as admitting that the promise of an Irish Language Act for the Six Counties was off set by moving its ratification from Westminster to Stormont where, Hain proclaimed there would be an “inbuilt majority” against it. The attempted criminalisation of Irish speakers is only what is expected of a colonial state whose intention is the eradication of any vestiges of Irish nationality, culture or history. We call on Irish language organisations, civil liberties bodies and activists to speak out against this assault on the right of Irish people to speak their native language in their own country. This should be recognised for what it is and no amount of sophistry or spin by the Stormont regime and its apologists should be allowed to obscure the truth about what is happening here. It is simply the suppression of the most basic civil and human rights, the right to a distinct cultural and national identity. As we are reminded by Pádraig Mac Piarais. “Tír gan teanga, tír gan anam.”