Fingal Old IRA Annual Remembrance at Rath Cross the site of the 1916 Battle of Ashbourne

Kerry Senator calls for New Ireland Forum Mark 2

Speaking on Sunday the 23rd last at the Fingal Old IRA 1916-21 Commemorative Society Annual Remembrance at Rath Cross the site of the Battle of Ashbourne in 1916: The FF Senator Mark Daly, his

party’s deputy leader in the Senate spoke of his pride at having the opportunity address the Commemoration at Rath Cross which recalls Thomas Ashe, a Kerry man who lead the Fingal Volunteers at the Battle of Ashbourne.

The Senator said “this gathering is here to celebrate the life and legacy of Thomas Ashe

To reaffirm and recommit ourselves to the aims and ideals for which he fought, the ideals as contained in the 1916 proclamation”.

He spoke of the motivation for Thomas Ashe and his men, in taking on the biggest empire the world had ever seen. Mark Daly used the words of Ashe’s cousin Gregory Peck, “if I didn’t I could not hold my head up”. Peck won the 1961 Academy Award winner, for his role in the film To Kill A Mocking Bird.

Senator Daly said “I am sure that if Thomas Ashe had been asked in Easter 1916 why he was going out to fight that Empire which ruled over a quarter of the surface of the earth, which controlled the lives of 1 in every 4 people on earth. An empire which, by the time World War 1 had ended Britain and her allies had mobilised 18 million men. Ashe and his fellow 1916 “Rebels” were taking on odds of 11,000 to 1

Senator Daly who is known amongst other things for putting in place protocols for the flying of the National Tricolour. Mark then spoke of the history of the flag which Thomas F Meagher first flew 170 years ago and which lay mainly forgotten until 1916. Pearse recognised the importance of the symbolism of the flag which Meagher had created fifty years before 'white in the centre signifies a lasting truce between orange and green and beneath its folds I pray the hands of Irish Catholics and Irish Protestants will be clasped in Generous and heroic brotherhood'

Meagher lived a just forty-three years but packed an incredible amount into that short time. He stood for unsuccessfully for election to Westminster in 1843. He was amongst the leaders of the 1848 Rebellion for which he was tried. Before sentence he asked did he have anything to say he replied, ‘your honour if you do not sentence me to death I will try again’.

He was sentenced to be hung drawn and quartered but the sentence was not carried out rather he was transported to Van Deimans land in Australia. He was never to return to Ireland and wrote

‘never was there a country so down cast, so depressed so pitiful so spiritless. Yet I do not could not despair for her regeneration. Nations do not die in a day. Their lives are recognised by generations and they encompass centuries. Their vitality is inextinguishable,

One of the ideas of the proclamation is “to pursue the happiness and prosperity of the whole nation and all its parts”

He said “There is a fear across the island that Brexit could bring a return to the hard border. That in turn, it is feared, could see a return to the violence of the past. The unionist community are openly discussing a united Ireland, lady Sylvia Hermon the unionist MP for North Down and widow to the former chief constable of the RUC said there would be referendum on a united Ireland in her life time. And a fortnight ago for the first time ever an opinion poll in the north showed that the majority of people would vote for a united Ireland in the event of a hard Brexit. There is a concern also that some will use unlawful means to prevent a referendum on a united Ireland”.

The Senator then set out what he saw as a reasonable approach to the question of Unification post Brexit. He said “You do not hold a referendum and afterwards plan for the future and only afterwards tell people what that future will be like. A referendum should be held at the very end of a long process of consultation and engagement, especially with our unionist neighbours” He went on to say “The key recommendation of my report and the most important one which all the members of the Joint Committee on the Implementation of the Good Friday Agreement agree with is that we must establish a New Ireland Forum 2” Like its predecessor 34 years ago its role would be to set out the peaceful path way with all traditions so we can plan together to create an education system, health system, economy and society for generations to come, a nation that Thomas Ashe would be proud of.

The Senator concluded with the advice and the words of the man voted by the people of Ireland 'Irish man of the 20th century’ T K Whittaker’s as you all know he wrote the first programme for economic recovery that helped create the economy and the nation we have today.

I came across his memo written in November 1968 to the then Taoiseach Jack Lynch. Whittaker foresaw the long-term nature of achieving a new agreed Ireland, that it required the best of ourselves and a collective understanding.

‘We were, therefore, left with only one choice, a policy of seeking unity in Ireland between Irishmen. Of its nature this is a long-term policy, requiring patience, understanding and forbearance and resolute resistance to emotionalism and opportunism. It is not the less patriotic for that’.

The Cathaoirleach of the Society Councillor Cathal Boland then thanked the Senator for his excellent address and thanked those who attended. Cathal spoke of the importance of remembrance and of the opportunity which it gives to chart the way forward.

Gallery of Photos from the day by Fingal Old IRA 1916-21 Commemorative Society