1 September 2013 Edition
John Joe McGirl – A much-loved figure who continues to inspire
25th anniversary commemoration of IRA and Sinn Féin leader
History is littered with unionist leaders who made the mistake of seeing life ‘through a red, white and blue prism’, Martin McGuinness said
JOINT First Minister Martin McGuinness told the annual John Joe McGirl commemoration in Ballinamore, County Leitrim, on Sunday 18 August – the 25th anniversary that John Joe “was, and remains for republicans, not just here in Leitrim, or the Border, but across our country, an inspirational leader”.
Attended by over 400 people, the commemoration ceremony was preceded by a parade through the town led by the Mountain Road pipe band from Fermanagh.
Ballinamore native John Joe McGirl, who died in 1988, was a senior and influential republican leader over many decades.
A leading figure in the IRA, he participated in the 1956-62 Border Campaign and was elected TD for the Sligo/Leitrim constituency while in jail as a political prisoner.
Sunday evening’s proceedings at the John Joe McGirl monument were chaired by Maureen Martin.
Sinn Fein Councillor Martin Kenny read the Proclamation and a wreath was laid on behalf of the McGirl family.
In the course of his address, Martin McGuinness said that John Joe MgGirl “was, and remains for republicans, not just here in Leitrim, or the Border, but across our country, an inspirational leader. Twenty-five years on from the time we laid John Joe to rest, he continues to inspire.”
McGuinness used his address to address the current political situation in the North, branding the recent decision by the Democratic Unionist Party to abandon plans for a major peace centre at the site of the former Long Kesh prison camp as “a mistake”.
He challenged political unionism to stop “continually feeding the insatiable appetite of those who see life through a red, white and blue prism” and he warned that ‘history is littered with unionist leaders who made this mistake”.
On the upcoming talks to try to resolve issues around parades in the North, to be chaired by former US Envoy Richard Haas, Martin McGuinness said he is optimistic that progress can be made if they are approached in the right spirit and he challenged unionism to accept those with an Irish identity and culture as equal to those of a British outlook.
John Joe McGirl was an inspirational leader to republicans across Ireland