Date Released: 03 May 2016
The SIPTU Meath District Council hosted events to commemorate the centenary of the Battle of Ashbourne on Saturday, 30th April, which were attended by over 100 trade unionists and local people.
The events included a series of talks and poetry readings in the SIPTU Dan Shaw Centre in Navan as well as a march and key note speech by SIPTU General President, Jack O’Connor, in Ashbourne. The events coincided with the visit of trade unionists from across the country and the UK to Meath for the annual commemoration in Crossakiel of Jim Connell, the writer of the socialist anthem The Red Flag.
Opening the Battle of Ashbourne commemoration events in the Dan Shaw Centre, SIPTU Meath District Council co-ordinator, John Regan, said: “There should be no doubt that the Easter Rising of 1916 would not have happened without our predecessor union, the Irish Transport and General Workers Union. Under the leadership of James Connolly, its acting general secretary, the ITGWU was at the very center of the planning for the Rising.”
Following a march by trade unionists which included a colour party dressed in the uniform of the Irish Citizen Army, Jack O’Connor addressed a crowd at the monument in Ashbourne to Thomas Ashe, who led the rebel forces at the battle in the town on 28th April, 1916.
He said: “I have no doubt that many of those who laid down their lives for freedom one hundred years ago would be unimpressed with the Ireland of today, notwithstanding the social and economic progress that has been attained.”
He added: “If we are to realise the ambitions of Ashe and the courageous men and women who fought with him on these roads and in these fields one hundred years ago we need to revisit the integrity of their vision and of the aims and aspirations of the Proclamation and the subsequent Democratic Programme of 1919.”
Earlier, SIPTU Researcher Tish Gibbons had addressed those assembled at the monument to Jim Connell in Crossakiel. She also focused on the legacy of the 1916 Rising in her speech.
“In this decade of centenary commemorations, it’s no harm to remind ourselves of our pathetic attempts to provide homes for families – security of tenure for Wolfe Tone’s men and women of no property,” she said.
“Prior to independence we always had someone else to blame for the urban slums and tenements and the one-roomed bothán shared with livestock in rural areas. We always had perfidious albion to blame – well think on because we don’t seem to have done too good a job on our own.”
To read Jack O'Connor's full speech click here