2 October 2008 Edition

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Mac Lochlainn delivers message to DUP at Strabane commemoration

REMEMBRANCE: People in the parade carried portraits of local republican dead

REMEMBRANCE: People in the parade carried portraits of local republican dead

DONEGAL Sinn Féin Councillor Pádraig Mac Lochlainn said: “If the DUP wishes to be in government then it will be in partnership and on the basis of equality for all citizens.” He delivered the message in an address to the Annual West Tyrone Volunteers Commemoration held in Strabane on Saturday evening.
Earlier, a commemoration parade led by a colour party and children carrying portraits of local republican dead, the Strabane Memorial Flute Band and the Derry Republican Flute Band made its way from the Assembly point in the Ballycolman to the Hunger Strike Memorial at Townsend Street, where a wreath-laying ceremony took place before continuing on its way to the Republican Plot at Strabane Cemetery.
Pádraig Mac Lochlainn spoke about how the great void left by the deaths of our patriot dead is most acutely felt by the nearest and dearest who have been left behind and highlighted the importance of commemoration as a means of showing support and solidarity to the families of our republican dead.  He also spoke about the common bond which links every generation of those listed on the West Tyrone Roll of Honour and Remembrance, saying:
“This common bond was forged because of their refusal to opt for ‘the easy life’ in the face of injustice and adversity. This common bond was forged because of their determination and courage to meet injustice and adversity head on regardless of the might and array of the forces lined up against them and regardless of the personal suffering and sacrifice that this would inevitably entail.
“This is why we remember our patriot dead with honour and pride. This is why those who seek to continually vilify our republican dead will never succeed. This is why we gather at this Republican Plot in annual commemoration.”

Speaking about the current political situation he said:
“The present political difficulties are not a new phenomenon. Unionists have consistently opposed every move towards building a society of equals in the North. To agree with the need for equality and parity of esteem would be to admit that the Northern state was built on discrimination and sectarianism.
 “If the DUP wishes to be in government then it will be in partnership and on the basis of equality for all citizens.
“The over-riding cause of the difficulties experienced in the political process is the refusal by the DUP to accept the basic principles of partnership and equality in government.
“An examination of the workings of the Assembly since its restoration in May 2007 will demonstrate that rather than approach issues on their merits the DUP approach has been ‘if it is important to nationalists, we won’t support it’.
“Irrespective of the public utterances of DUP spokespersons seeking to placate the rejectionists within their party, the fact that the DUP is in government demonstrates their acceptance of the tenets of the Good Friday Agreement and St Andrew’s, even if this was a reluctant and belated acceptance.
“Republicans have delivered on every commitment that we entered into over the protracted negotiations in which we participated, however difficult they may have been. But that is the test of leadership. Unionists will have to accept that nationalism is no longer willing to allow itself to be policed by unionism.  The days of second-class citizenship are over.”

Following  the proceedings at the Republican Plot a special screening of  The Gibraltar/ Milltown Martyrs a 20th Anniversary Commemorative Documentary was held at Fountain Street Community Centre and it had a deep impact on all who attended, both young and old alike.
After the commemoration events, Jay McCauley, Chairperson of Strabane National Graves, said:
“I would like to take this opportunity to thank everyone who participated in or helped organise this year’s commemoration events and ensure that the sacrifice of our local republican dead is never forgotten.”

COLOUR PARTY: A wreath laying ceremony took place at at the Hunger Strike memorial at Townsend Street before the prade continued to the Republican Plot at Strabane Cemetery 

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