17 December 2009 Edition
Unmistakeable air of change at launch of booklet on Sheena Campbell
CRIAGAVON Civic Buildings were for long an example of everything that was wrong in the Six Counties. But there was an unmistakeable air of change surrounding events on Tuesday, 15 December as republicans gathered to launch the latest book in the Republican Legends series; ‘Dancing to the Revolution: Sheena Campbell, A Lost Leader’.
Family, friends and comrades packed in to Craigavon Council buildings to celebrate Ella O’Dwyer’s excellent compilation of tributes and memories, featuring moving interviews with Sheena’s son Caolán, partner Brendan and mum and dad, Jean and Patsy. As people began to filter through in to the conference suite with their tea and coffee, the diversity of individuals became apparent. Republicans from various eras flowed through the doors to a newly developed part of Craigavon Civic Buildings. Former republican Prisoners Of War, Hunger Strikers, Blanketmen, Sinn Féin MLAs, Councillors, party members, supporters and community activists, gathered with close family of Sheena Campbell to launch what local MLA John O’Dowd described as a “wonderful tribute to Sheena”.
The event was chaired by local Ógra Shinn Féin activist Gemma McKenna, who welcomed Sinn Féin’s Lurgan By-Election candidate Liam Mackle to open the evening with the poem ‘For Strong Women’ by Marge Piercy.
IMPORTANCE OF REMEMBERING
The book’s author Ella O’Dwyer offered a background and inspiration for the book, expressing gratitude and talking humbly of her interviews with Sheena’s family. Ella conveyed the importance of remembering our heroes as they were – as people – as a mother, daughter, sister, cousin, partner and friend.
Evidence of change in the area where Sheena lived with partner Brendan Curran, Sinn Féin’s first Councillor on Craigavon Borough Council, could be clearly seen as local Councillor and MLA John O’Dowd delivered the evening’s main address. O’Dowd, himself a friend and comrade of Sheena, was noticeably pleased to be speaking at the event. Sinn Féin is now the largest nationalist/republican party in the Upper Bann constituency, with seven councillors spanning Banbridge and Craigavon, and an MLA. The foundation of this success was not lost on O’Dowd. “I have no doubt that the foundation for the growth of Sinn Féin in Upper Bann is the result of the efforts of Sheena Campbell,” he said.
John also talked of the fun loving, outgoing, friendly Sheena and of the lasting image he and his brother joke about, remembering Sheena as “the girl in the Bay City Roller trousers.”
He concluded, “This book is a wonderful tribute to Sheena Campbell. But the only fitting tribute to Sheena Campbell is achieving the Republic she dedicated herself to and ultimately gave her life for.”
Sheena pictured reading An Phoblacht at the GPO, Dublin in July 1980