18 September 2003 Edition
SF European candidate addresses Strabane commemoration
Former Health Minister Bairbre de Brún, recently selected to be the Sinn Féin's candidate for the Six Counties in next June's European Election, was the guest speaker at the annual West Tyrone Volunteers' Commemoration held in Strabane.
The parade and graveyard ceremony brought to a close a series of events held in Strabane to commemorate the memory of all those who have gave their lives in the cause of Irish Freedom from the West Tyrone area.
A republican colour party followed by the Rasharkin Republican Flute Band, Co Antrim and the Strabane Memorial Flute Band led the large crowd from Ballycolman Shops to the Republican Plot at Strabane Cemetery.
John Kelly, Chair of Strabane National Graves, chaired proceedings at the West Tyrone monument in Strabane graveyard.
In a moving speech, Bairbre de Brún said,
"The inscription on the monument beside us, erected by the Strabane Branch of Tyrone National Graves reads, "Go luí cré arsa Thír Eoghain ar n-uaigheanna ár laochra uaisle - May the ancient soil of Tyrone rest lightly on the graves of our noble heroes", and this beautiful tribute reflects the place in our hearts that is held for those we have come to remember here today.
"Tyrone is a proud county. This area stood firm against all opposition. And the chronology of the West Tyrone Roll of Honour bears testament to the unbroken tradition of struggle against British rule in this historic part of Ireland.
"The republican people of this area have buried loved ones, friends and comrades in every phase of this long struggle and we gather here today as a republican family to not only pay tribute to those we loved and were proud of, but to reflect on the struggle for which they gave their lives.
"It was because of the people that we honour here today that the radical, progressive, republican tradition survived in Ireland when its enemies were ready to consign it to the grave, the prison cell and the history books.
"They helped to ensure that not only did republicanism survive but that it thrived. They understood the need to adopt new tactics and strategies to suit new political circumstances. They had the foresight to realise that we must adapt ourselves to the terrain through which we, as republicans, have to travel on our long journey to our goal of an All-Ireland Republic