21 August 2008 Edition

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Fógraí bháis: Liam Baker

The death occurred on Thursday, 7 August of Liam Baker. Born 65 years ago to Sam and Nellie Baker in the Sailortown area of Belfast, he left school at the age of 14 and went straight to a career at sea.
Liam’s sea career ended in 1975 in Southampton when he was arrested with republican comrades and charged, among other offences, with conspiracy to cause explosions. Found guilty he spent the next 17 years in prison and received a further four years imprisonment for an assault on Keith Littlejohn, a British intelligence agent in Ireland during the 1970’s who was serving a sentence for criminal offences.
Liam spent years in some of the most horrific prisons in the British penal system. Enduring many years solitary confinement, and moves from prison to prison – a process known as ‘ghosting’ to try and break Liam on the inside and his family on the outside.
Liam and his comrades were also subjected to physical brutality, due to their support for their comrades in the H-Blocks of Long Kesh who were on the No Wash Protest and later on the Hunger Strike, and also for his comrades in Portlaoise and the women’s prisons of Armagh, Maghaberry and Limerick along with comrades in European Prisons and prisons in America.
Eventually released in 1992, Liam and his partner June tried to get their life back together along with their family, and by this time his grandchildren and later, great grandchildren.
After Liam’s release from jail, he got employment through the kind help of friends from Southampton and he was very happy for the next 12 years until June, his rock for all those years before and after his imprisonment, sadly took ill and died in 2004. Liam finally returned to his native Belfast and family a few short years ago.

Republican freedon fighter
Liam died on Thursday, 7 August and was buried on Monday, 11 August in Belfast’s Milltown Cemetery. The graveside oration was delivered by veteran Belfast republican Harry Thompson, a friend of Liam and his family.
Harry extended, on behalf of the Republican Movement and Liam’s comrades, sincere condolences to the family of his late partner June, June’s daughter Belinda, son Christopher and grandchildren Liam and Gavin and great grandchildren, his sisters Maura and Patrica, his brothers Joe, Sam, Johnny and Paul and his aunts uncles cousins nephews and nieces.
He said that while the British prison system and establishment could never break Liam, the loss of June took its toll. Following her death, his health deteriorated rapidly and with his loving family around him, Liam passed away after a terminal illness. “But he also died of a broken heart”, he said.
Harry thanked Liam’s republican comrades who have honoured him with a fitting and final tribute and to those who supported Liam in jail and after he got out.
He concluded by saying:
“Friends let us not weep for Liam, be happy for him, his pain has gone, he has joined his beloved June whose ashes are interred with him, and his mother and father. What a beautiful way to end life on this earth with the ones you loved with you.
“Let us go from here today and do what Liam would want us to do and celebrate his life with a drink and a social gathering remembering good times.
“Liam Baker died as he lived. An Irish republican freedom fighter, unbroken, unbowed and unrepentant.
Go nDéana Dia Trocaire ar a Anam”.

An Phoblacht
44 Parnell Sq.
Dublin 1

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