The centenary year of the Easter Rising has come to an end. This year many of us would have participated in dignified and respectful commemoration of the men, women and youth that engaged in that historic physical assertion of Ireland’s right to independence.

It was with great pride that Irish republicans from all over Ireland and supporters of Irish Independence throughout the world paid their respects and honoured our patriot dead, who took up arms, against a numerically and militarily superior force, indeed the most powerful imperialist entity of the early twentieth century.

Inarguably, the centenary year was a time of reflection but now is the time of analysis and revaluation. Where the Irish Republican project is now, what challenges we currently face and what we collectively must do to overcome these obstacles. As we enter 2017 we must work to build on what we have achieved and further develop ourselves as a viable alternative to the strategy of bargain, reform and dilution.

Over the past year, actions carried out by the security forces and the intelligence bodies that direct them have attempted to hinder our movement, amidst the commonplace stop and searches, destructive house raids and intimidatory arrests, a number of our most dedicated and capable members now find themselves incarcerated. This British policy of removal of leadership figures is no new weapon in their arsenal and there is little doubt that it will continue. However we as a movement adapted to the unfortunate change in circumstances, after a period of restructuring, a new leadership with a new dispensation emerged.

The new Ard Chomhairle, created in the aftermath of politically motivated, selective detainment, has as a result, been made resolute, more determined to further RNU as a political vehicle. They have stated their desire to modernise the party, one which is result based, a party fully immersed in the struggles of the working class. To quote the current National Chairperson, “we seek to create a mobilisation point for those who have nothing and those who want the Earth.”

This task will require time and it shall require the concerted effort of all the strands of our movement; our supporters, the grassroots activists, Comhairle Ceantair, Cogús and Ard Chomhairle.

RNU wish to make note of the work that was carried out by international groups over the past year. We wish to thank these groups for their support for and solidarity shown to RNU, Cogús and indeed the Irish freedom struggle holistically. Specifically we wish to express our gratitude to our Swedish comrades who have remained steadfast in their support for Cogús POWs and The Red Nation who have worked with RNU on a number of occasions. We hope to build on these relations in the spirit of mutual respect and solidarity in the year to come.

Throughout 2016 Cogús has shown time and again its ingenuity and tireless drive to improve conditions for Irish republican political prisoners. In the duration of the past year representatives of Cogús have lobbied the case of republican prisoners with human rights experts and legal professionals as well as other concerned bodies to push the case of incarcerated Republicans. Cogús over the coming year is set to continue with such meetings. Assuring that the plight of the POWs is heard and that the regressive policies of the prison administration is adequately challenged.

Despite claims of irrelevance and petty slanders from constitutionalists, Cogús is not an isolated entity, for it simply could not function in isolation and as such we wish to thank all those that support our prisoner welfare group through their fundraising, awareness raising, protest, vigils and other actions. Almost twenty years have past since the signing of the Good Friday Agreement and the erosion of the rights and conditions of Republican political prisoners continues. To those that retain an interest in the situation with the gaols in Ireland, the current deterioration is not to be underestimated. While we and the Cogús POWs share the hope of a conflict free environment, the coming year looks bleak for any serious improvement of conditions due to the intransigent nature of the POA and the Maghaberry administration, as such we must prepare for another difficult year.

Undoubtedly a difficult year lies ahead for Irish Republicans both within the gaols and without. This being the result of our ideological stance, we remain principled Irish Republicans which refuse to recognise the legitimacy of either state on this island, both, born from partition and sectarianism. The two same political traditions compete now as they had over one hundred years previous. A constitutionalist strategy, suggesting Ireland as part of a United Kingdom rather than its own independent nation, a strategy born of the belief that the people of Ireland should not look to themselves but to Britain for govermental reforms and the hope of freedom, a strategy both compromised and compromising. Its opponent, revolutionary republicanism, wedded to separatism, dependent on the working class of Ireland for success. We as revolutionary republicans must this year strive to present an alternative to constitutionalism, we must gain the support of the majority of the people of this island to make our goals and ambitions a reality. The authors of the 1916 proclamation put to written word our purpose for continuing our struggle and it is fitting to close this statement and bring to an end this centenary year with the ideals contained within that remarkable document.

The right of the people of Ireland to the ownership of Ireland and to the unfettered control of Irish destinies; the right to national freedom and sovereignty; the right to religious and civil liberty; equal rights for all Irish citizens; and the right to the pursuit of the happiness and prosperity of the whole nation and all its parts, cherishing all the children of the nation equally. These are the ideals proclaimed in 1916, ratified when the Dáil first met in 1919, defended in the war of independence and the ideals we will continue to struggle for.

Opportunities are for those who seize them.