President commends the Irish Citizens Army for role in Rising
Published 23/03/2016 | 02:30
President Michael D Higgins has moved to dismiss claims that James Connolly and the Irish Citizen Army (ICA) were "bloodthirsty revolutionaries".
In a speech marking the 102nd anniversary of the ICA at Áras an Uachtaráin, the President said it is important "not to rush to judgement on what Connolly's motivations were for orchestrating a joint action" with the Irish Volunteers, during the 1916 Rising.
Mr Higgins defended Connolly, amid previous recollections from Irish republican, Helena Molony, that Connolly "gave out revolvers to our girls".
"None of this makes Irish Citizen Army members, or James Connolly, irresponsible, blood-thirsty revolutionaries, as some contemporary commentators might like to portray them," Mr Higgins said.
Speaking in front of the uncrowned green harp flag of the ICA, he said that out of all the formations which took part in the Easter Rising, the ICA was a global movement of democracy in its fullest sense.
He said it stands out as "a workers' army whose members were committed not just to national independence, but to the social and economic transformation of Ireland".
"The Republic of which those men and women dreamt was one that would enable the full participation of all its citizens, as well as more equal distribution of the fruits of labour among them," he said.
The President's wife, Sabina, also read a speech during the event. There were also speeches from Rachel Phelan of Collins Barracks, and Neil Armstrong of Inniskillings Regimental Museum, while singer Mary Coughlan performed.