15 January 2009 Edition
IRA Volunteer John Francis Green remembered in Castleblayney
John Francis Green was born in Lurgan, County Armagh, on 18 December 1946. He was an active member of the Civil Rights campaign in the late 1960s and later joined the IRA. He was forced to go ‘on the run’ following the introduction of internment in August 1971 but was arrested a few months later and interned on the Maidstone prison ship. He was later transferred to Long Kesh from where he escaped in September 1973.
Following his escape he lived in the Monaghan and Castleblayney areas. On the evening of 10 January 1975, he left Castleblayney and drove to a farmhouse at Mullyash, where he had been staying. Just after he arrived there, the farmer went off to attend to a neighbour’s cattle. When he returned he found his front door smashed in and John Francis dead at the bottom of the stairs. He had been shot several times in the head and body. His killers – widely believed to be a combination of British Army, UDR and unionist paramilitaries – left a number of live bullets on his chest.
Under the stewardship of the local Sinn Féin cumann, named after John Francis Green, an annual commemoration has taken place in the years since.
On Sunday, the large crowd paraded though the Main Street led by piper Paul Ford, the Cullyhanna Youth Band, the Burns & Moley Memorial Flute Band from Crossmaglen, and the South Derry Martyrs Republican Flute Band.
The parade marched to the Keady Road where they gathered at the memorial which honours John Francis Green where Fintan Smith of the local Sinn Féin cumann chaired proceedings and wreaths were laid at the memorial by Anne Green, widow of John Francis, on behalf of the Green family, by Mayor of Castleblayney Maria Kelly, and by local Sinn Féin activist Peter Grimes.
The platform party included Sinn Féin Dáil leader Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin TD and Mid-Monaghan Councillors Jackie Crowe, James Cunningham and Maria Kelly and Ballybay representative Gene Duffy.
Chantelle Reynolds read the County Monaghan Republican Roll of Honour. Jackie Crowe then recited a Decade of the Rosary.
Donegal Sinn Féin Councillor Pádraig Mac Lochlainn gave the main oration, during which he said:
“Though 34 years have passed since John Francis’s killing, his memory and bravery is kept alive by people such as you who gather here today. As republicans we are adamant to ensure that the lives of the brave men and women who took up arms to free Ireland and died were not in vain.
“Lies about the circumstances of John Francis Green’s murder were told for decades. A compliant media swallowed the story. Justice and truth were deliberately denied to this family but they would not settle for the state lies and cover-up. They, along with other families, have been to the forefront in campaigning to expose the truth about collusion and British state murder and I pay tribute to them here today.”
“Now”, Pádraig Mac Lochlainn continued, “thanks to the efforts of republicans, the party that represents the worst elements of pro-British forces, the DUP, are now in a power-sharing government with Sinn Féin and have accepted the reality of the all-Ireland agenda”.
And there will be another way in which people can honour the memory of John Francis Green and his comrades, he said.
“The creation of a united Irish Republic is the most fitting tribute that all those who have given their lives to our struggle deserve, and it is the only outcome we will settle for.”