14 November 2002 Edition
A Sunday with the IRA
BY SEAN OILIBHEAR
The centrality of the IRA within the communities from which it emerged - and its existence as the undefeated people's army - was clear for anyone to see at two gatherings of republicans on Sunday last, 10 November.
Beside the busy Sunday traffic on Belfast's Falls Road, several hundred people from the Beechmount-Iveagh area, and beyond, came together to mark the anniversaries of two young IRA volunteers from the area, from A Company, 2nd Battalion, Belfast Brigade.
Albert Kavanagh and Stan Carberry were two of the young people in Belfast who saw streets burning in the pogroms of 1969, who saw friends and family fleeing their homes, fleeing from the loyalists and the RUC. Albert, Stan and many others fought back in the ranks of the IRA, defending their area and bringing the war to the British. Those who remembered them at La Salle Drive were comrades-in-arms, their families, their friends and the many people from that area whose help over the years provided the water within which the IRA fish could swim, and operate.
Thousands of the same type of people gathered on Sunday, in the rolling fields of North Louth, to remember and pay tribute to more young men, more volunteers of the Irish Republican Army. They gathered at Carrickarnon in bright autumn sunshine to march to Edentubber, where four volunteers and a comrade died in a premature explosion in 1957, just 15 years before Albert and Stan joined them in the ranks of the republican martyrs on the streets of Belfast.
Two of the Edentubber dead had come north from County Wexford to join their comrades in the campaign along the border. Other volunteers were recalled at Edentubber, those who had been reared and had died in action in the fields around where we had gathered, where North Louth runs seamlessly into Armagh.
Two gatherings in two counties, 43 miles apart, but united together as Irish republicans - activists, former protagonists, supporters and family members remembered their friends - those who had pledged their lives to the IRA, those who laid themselves down in battle for the IRA, those who had helped lay the foundations for our struggle's onward march.
Those who cry out for the 'disbandment' of the army to which these young volunteers belonged, to which Sunday's crowd give their allegiance, might just have learned something about this conflict, and its history, had they been among us at Beechmount and Edentubber on Sunday last.
Belfast Volunteers remembered
A plaque commemorating two IRA Volunteers from Belfast, Albert Kavanagh and Stan Carberry, who were killed on active service in the early 1970s was unveiled on Sunday 10 November at La Salle Drive off the Falls Road.
Kavanagh was shot dead in March 1972 by the RUC while Carberry was shot dead by the British Army close to where Sunday's unveiling ceremony was held.
The main speaker on the day was former Sinn Féin Director of Publicity, Danny Morrison, who was a friend and comrade of both men.
Morrison recalled how both the RUC and British Army lied about the circumstances of the men's deaths and read an extract from a statement made by Sean Fox, who was shot along with Albert.
In the statement, Fox described how the RUC came across the pair, who were on an operation to blow up the telephone exchange on Boucher Road, and opened fire on the unarmed Volunteers.
Fox was badly wounded, indeed he believes the RUC only stopped firing bullets into him because they thought he was dead. Kavanagh was killed on the spot.
Volunteer Stan Carberry was shot as he struggled, already wounded, from a car on the Falls Road. Witnesses said that Carberry was unarmed and was raising his arms to surrender when the British Army killed him.
The British Army claimed they had been fired on from the vehicle and only fired in response. They later claimed that a second man escaped from the vehicle with two weapons.
Stan Carberry junior, Stan's son, and Paul Kavanagh later unveiled the plaque.
McFaddens and Tírghrá committee honoured in Derry
The 13th Annual Derry Brigade Volunteers Commemoration Dinner Dance was held in the City Hotel Derry on Saturday 9 November. Attended by some 350 family members and friends, it was, for various reasons, the first time it was held in Derry City. As anyone who has ever attended this event will testify, it is one of the premier occasions in the republican calendar on this island.
Honoured guests included Martin McGuinness, Bairbre de Brún, Michelle Gildernew, Mitchel Mc Laughlin and a regular fixture at, I believe, all 13 of these events, Honorary Vice President of Sinn Féin, Joe Cahill. But the special guests on the night and the recipients of presentations were the family of Volunteer Barney McFadden, who died at Christmas last year, and representatives of the national Tírghrá Commemoration Committee.
Sinn Féin Chief Negotiator Martin McGuinness, friend and comrade of Barney McFadden, made the presentation to Barney's son Ciaran. Martin recalled many of the contributions that Barney made to the struggle throughout his long life of dedication to the struggle for Irish freedom. He reminisced about the many memorable times in the cottage in Stanley's Walk - the door of which was always open to anyone who needed a bed, something to eat or just some advice. It was always there.
Kathleen Hutton, daughter of Volunteer Tommy Carlin; Mickey English, father of Volunteer Charles English; and Philomena McLaughlin, sister of Volunteer Ethel Lynch; on behalf of all of the Volunteers families presented a slate carving of Cúchulainn to Deirdre Whelan and Olive Sloan, representing the Tírghrá Committee.
Before the presentation, Kathleen, Mickey and Philomena spoke of what the night of 13 April last meant to them. Each in their own way recalled the emotion of that night in City West Hotel in Dublin, about how it felt to be in the company of so many families from every corner of Ireland, most of whom didn't know one and other but who shared the grief and sorrow of having lost a loved one to the 'Troubles'. Through the words of Mickey, Philomena and Kathleen, the emotion of the occasion was relived by those family members who were present in City West and experienced by those of us that were not.
Deirdre Whelan, speaking on behalf of the Tírghrá Committee, thanked the families for what she described as this ''very special honour - especially special since it is coming from comrades and friends.
After describing the tremendous effort that went into organising the Tírghrá event and acknowledging all of those from throughout the 32 counties who contributed to the effort, Deirdre said:
"The one thing that was common to all was that immense sense of pride each of them had for those who lost their lives. A sense of pride that is borne from a recognition of the rightfulness of their cause. And a sense of pride that their loved ones had not been forgotten by their comrades. I believe and I think everybody will agree that Tírghrá was a fitting and lasting tribute from our Movement to all our comrades and friends who paid the ultimate price in the struggle for a 32 County United Ireland."
That same immense sense of pride was visible in the City Hotel in Derry last Saturday night.
Edentubber martyrs remembered
Despite the inclement wintry weather on Sunday last, a huge crowd estimated at more than a thousand people gathered outside Ravensdale House on the Main Dublin Road for the annual Edentubber Commemoration.
A 16-person colour party from Newry headed the parade and two other colour parties from South Armagh and Louth led the parade the short distance to the Edentubber monument. They were accompanied by a wreath-bearing section and six bands. Prominent were many local Sinn Féin cumainn banners.
At the site of the monument, where five people lost their lives in a premature explosion on Monday night, 11 November, 1957, Sinn Féin TD Arthur Morgan chaired proceedings. He paid a special thanks to the immediate family members of those who died at Edentubber for attending the ceremony.
Those who died were: Oliver Craven, Dominic Street, Newry; Paul Smith, The Gardens, Bessbrook; George Keegan, Enniscorthy; Patrick Parle, Wexford. They were in a cottage belonging to Michael Watters, who also died in the explosion.
Jimmy McCreesh, Group Leader of Sinn Féin councillors, laid a wreath on behalf of Newry & Mourne District Council, followed by many more wreaths from relatives, friends, comrades and Sinn Féin cumainn.
Former hunger striker Raymond McCartney from Derry, the invited guest speaker, welcomed everyone who attended the commemoration, especially those who had travelled long distances.
Addressing himself to the families of the five men, he said: "I hope gatherings like this help you realise the high esteem in which our fallen comrades are held and that the struggle for which they gave their lives continues.
"Vols Oliver Craven, Paul Smith, George Keegan, Patrick Parle and Michael Watters knew the injustices which partition created. They joined the IRA to end that injustice.
George Keegan and Patrick Parle came from County Wexford - they could have taken the view that they lived in an Ireland free of British rule but they understood only too well that the partition of their country was the cornerstone on which the many injustices of the Northern state were fostered.
"They came to this part of Ireland because - when one stands in places like this - one understands the folly of wanting people to accept that this is where one nations stops and another begins. They came here united, North, South, East and West, to state very clear that they were part of a national struggle. Tragically, it was here in pursuit of that ideal that they gave their lives in an accidental explosion as they prepared to mount an operation against British crown forces.
"Forty-five years on that struggle continues, and it grows in strength. We are stronger today than at any time in the past 30 years. No part of Ireland better exemplifies that growing strength than where we are now gathered - the election of Arthur Morgan to Leinster House and Conor Murphy, MP in waiting for Newry/Armagh, is testimony to this.
"This is the first time that I have attended the Edentubber commemoration but it was something which was part of the republican folklore which I can recall as a young boy growing up in Derry.
"Oliver Craven, Paul Smith, George Keegan, Patrick Parle and Michael Watters are not distant heroes - they were part of our families, our friends, our comrades and our march to freedom. Beirigí bua."