'Sinn Féin try to rewrite history by linking Rising to Provisionals' - Martin
Published 18/04/2016 | 02:30
Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin has accused Sinn Féin of a "deeply cynical and dangerous attempt to exploit the heroes of 1916".
He claimed that Gerry Adams's party has sought to "rewrite history" and claim a direct link to the Easter Rising which is not warranted.
And Mr Martin was particularly critical of an exhibition running at Dublin's Ambassador Theatre that includes a section dedicated to the H-Block hunger strikes of the 1980s.
"In the very room where the Irish Volunteers first met they are today running an exhibition which claims to be about 1916 but it is solely about twisting history," he said of the Revolution 1916 exhibit.
"Even though a Sinn Féin officer is running it out of Sinn Féin HQ, they pretend to the public that it is an independent exhibition.
"They claim that to honour Pearse, Clarke and Plunkett you must honour a sinister organisation which tried to destroy this State and continues to refuse to subject its members to the laws enacted by the Irish people.
"The fact is that today this type of behaviour is the greatest threat to the high standing of 1916 amongst the Irish people."
Mr Martin was speaking at Fianna Fáil's annual 1916 Commemoration in Arbour Hill which was attended by many of the party's newly elected TDs and former Taoiseach Bertie Ahern.
He said that Sinn Féin had failed to achieve the electoral breakthrough they claimed was "inevitable" and were "now using more underhand methods to legitimise themselves".
"The arguments of the 1970s and 1980s that we should reject the tradition of 1916 are now confined to a small fringe.
"What remains as a direct challenge to the unique status of 1916 is Gerry Adams and a party incapable of accepting that it waged an illegitimate war against a democratic republican tradition directly enabled by 1916," he said.
"People who behave like this are also disrespecting the men and women of the Rising because they are claiming that nothing was achieved.
"This is the biggest difference between the vast majority of the Irish people and the Provisionals movement - we believe that 1916 fundamentally changed the possibilities for pursuing the cause of Irish republicanism."
The party leader said the men and women of 1916 would have not accept the argument of "a so-called 'unbroken chain' linking 1916 to the Provisionals".
"The vast majority of surviving volunteers joined parties which embraced other ways of promoting the cause of Ireland."
Mr Martin also commented on the current political impasse, saying that over the past five years "Fianna Fáil has changed in many ways".
"In looking for a way forward our first priority was to seek to renew the great tradition which we had been handed by earlier generations," he said.
He denied that recent events which saw him turn down the opportunity of a partnership government with Fine Gael were linked to historical hang-ups. "Quite frankly, those who try to dismiss us with the condescending claim that we are simply a 'Civil War party' need to go read a bit more history," he said.