Moveable feasts

Unlike most historical commemorations republicans remember the 1916 Easter Rising not on the actual date it began, 24th April, but follow the moveable feast of a Christian Easter. I have never really understood why a decision of the First Council of Nicaea on the full moon after the spring equinox should dictate when republicans remember their dead.

I assume it may be the ease of an already observed holiday, some kind of undeclared Christian sensibility, an attempt to marry the death and rebirth elements of the Christian feast with similar republican hopes – maybe a mixture of them all and more.

It certainly doesn’t have any clear secular explanation.

Other elements of the moveable feast attitude of some republicans leapt out to me this year. As many remembered the sacrifice of others and some recognised those involved in/or imprisoned due to revolutionary struggle, republican prisoners in Magheraberry were engaged in a protest over their detention conditions.

Des Dalton of RSF said:

“This campaign to criminalise the Republican prisoners by the British State has even extended to the families of the prisoners. In recent weeks visitors have been forced to endure humiliating searches in order to visit relatives and friends while the drug dogs have been used as a pretext to stop visits – this despite the fact that no drugs have ever been found on either a Republican prisoner or their visitors.

“Since 1917 22 Irish Republican have died on hunger strike to uphold the right of Republican prisoners to political status. In 1998 this hard fought for right was signed away under the terms of the Stormont Agreement. However the present generation of Republican prisoners in Maghaberry by their resolute action have given a clear signal that ‘England will not brand Ireland’s fight 800 years of crime’.”

Breandán Mac Cionnaith of éirígí called for political status:

“This treatment has been centred on the denial of political status and the attempt to portray those who are detained as a result of the British occupation as common criminals.

“Regardless of one’s political opinions, the reality is that these prisoners would not be in jail were it not for the ongoing British presence in Ireland – they are clearly political prisoners and they should be treated as such.”

And in the tradition of Easter’s moveable feast Caral Ni Chuilin of SF, who label these prisoners ‘traitors’, has attempted support:

“Regardless of why anyone is in prison they are entitled to be treated with respect and dignity.”

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