Yesterday evening in the Galbally area of East Tyrone, republicans from the length and breadth of Ireland gathered for the 2016 Annual Convention of the 1916 Societies.
Formed in 2009, the Societies are an Irish separatist movement who demand a full British withdrawal from all of Ireland, with the restoration of the Irish Republic to follow the same.
The principal business of the day was the election of the Officer Board for 2016 but the occasion served also as a rallying cry, both for republicans to take ownership of the Centenary year ahead and likewise to expand our ongoing One Ireland One Vote campaign over the same period.
By way of brief introduction, renowned Tyrone republican Tommy McKearney outlined finalised arrangements for the National Graves Association Centenary commemoration at the St. Paul’s plot in Glasnevin on April 24th, an event we fully endorse and encourage all republicans to attend.
Proceedings in turn were chaired by Dwayne Tierney, outgoing Chairman for 2015, beginning with a reading of the Proclamation by Ulster Scór Champion for recitation, Sean Lynch from Moy in Co. Tyrone, who in full period costume delivered a captivating rendition of the historic scenes at the GPO one hundred years ago.
Michael Kenny of the National Graves Association, former curator with the National Museum but now retired, then gave a keynote lecture on the ‘stories behind the story’ of the 1916 Proclamation, bringing the events of the time to life with an enthralling account of the atmosphere among the Rebublican Camp as they prepared to stage the Uprising in Dublin on that most famous of Easter Mondays.
A report then followed on the relaunched One Ireland One Vote campaign, with Frankie Quinn, incoming Chair for 2016, describing how the campaign continues to grow and telling those present how ‘ordinary people in Ireland are now coming to see our initiative as a credible means to confront the existing, thoroughly corrupt establishment and to press for real change through the same’.
The various departments of the outgoing Officer Board then reported their activities and achievements over the previous twelve months, with National Organiser Paul Scannell detailing the tremendous growth ongoing, ‘from all corners of Ireland to the East Coast of the United States of America, where we now have a solid presence’.
Dungannon Independent Councillor Barry Monteith then supervised the election of the incoming Officer Board, rounding of the process with a stirring call for all present, with the wider Republican Movement, to ’embrace the potential of 2016 and play a full role in what is an exciting period ahead for us all’.
Following on, Frank Allen of ‘Save Moore Street’ gave a presentation on the work to ensure the preservation of the historic Moore Street Terrace, as a National Monument and ‘historical quarter’, before the singing of Amhrán na bhFiann, by local singer Caron Brannigan, brought the day’s proceedings to an end.
The Societies look forward to the year ahead, fully determined that 2016 bring us closer to the Irish Republic proclaimed in Dublin a century ago. It is to that Republic we pledge our efforts and allegiance, confident that in working together, giving voice to the people over the period to come, we can once more see it it become a reality.