25 September 2008 Edition

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Vol. Diarmuid O'Neill honoured in Timoleague

• Volunteer Diarmuid O’Neill’s father, Eoghan, and his brother, Shane, at the commemoration for the selfless young republican killed on active service in England

• Volunteer Diarmuid O’Neill’s father, Eoghan, and his brother, Shane, at the commemoration for the selfless young republican killed on active service in England

Around 80 people attended last Sunday’s annual Diarmuid O’Neill Commemoration in Timoleague Cemetery, at the graveside of the 27 year old I.R.A. Volunteer who was shot dead by British police in Hammersmith, London, when they raided his flat in the middle of the night on 23 September 1996. A republican flag bearer carrying the Tricolour led the crowd in a short parade to the grave, where proceedings were chaired by Clonakilty Sinn Féin councillor Cionnaith Ó Súilleabháin. Chuir sé fáilte roimh gach duine, and especially Diarmuid O’ Neill’s father Eoghan and brother Shane. Wreaths were laid on behalf of the Republican Movement Cork, and Sinn Féin Cumainn in Bandon, Macroom and Clonakilty. After a minute’s silence, the Cathaoirleach introduced prominent South Armagh republican, Seán Hughes who has over 30 years experience as an active Republican.
In his introduction, Ó Súilleabháin compared the similarities of the republican resistance struggle between West Cork in the 1916-1922 period to that of the people of South Armagh from the late 1960’s to the present. “The struggles were the same, against the same foreign oppressor, even though there were several decades between them”.
Seán Hughes paid tribute to Volunteer Diarmuid O’ Neill, saying he had willingly got involved and joined the IRA in Britain, knowing the odds would be firmly stacked against him.  “Joining the IRA anywhere always had its risks, but being on active service in Britain was particularly risky. At best you were likely to be arrested and imprisoned, and at worst, killed”. Diarmuid O’ Neill was very well informed from a young age not just about the Irish historical struggle against British domination, but also acutely aware of other resistance struggles around the world. Seán Hughes recalled that the mid 1990s were trying times for Irish republicans. A cessation of military operations was called in 1994, which led onto political negotiations, but it soon became clear that the then British Government was foot dragging and had no interest in resolving the core issues of the conflict. “Diarmuid O’ Neill once again offered himself for active service at this time”. At the time of his murder, he had been under 24 hour surveillance for three months and his flat was bugged. The police knew every move he made, and he could have easily been arrested. “However his killing was sanctioned at the highest level of the British Government”, he said.
He called on those responsible to reveal the truth, just as they call for the truth about republican operations. Since the 1996 period, there have been many great strides with the Peace Process firmly bedded down and republicans now using the political path to achieve their objectives.
“The baton has been passed on. There are still difficulties on a daily basis, but we are determined to see the struggle through to its ultimate conclusion of Irish unity”, he stated.
Councillor Ó Súilleabháin urged all present to continue in their support for Sinn Féin as the only political party with a clear policy of Irish unification and British withdrawal. He asked people to become active in the organisation, rather than be mere spectators, as the task is great and more help is needed at every level.
The ceremony concluded with Kathleen Russell leading the crowd in Amhrán na bhFiann.

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