26 August 2004 Edition

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Community remembers Shanaghan

A play about a young Sinn Féin member who was shot dead near Castlederg, County Tyrone on 12 August 1991 as a result of RUC and British Government collusion, was performed to packed out halls in his home town earlier this month.

Stepping Out of Line tells the tale of Castlederg and Aghyaran man Patrick Shanaghan, who was shot dead by a lone gunman the day after his 33rd birthday. The play was originally commissioned by the Relatives for Justice Group in 2002, to mark the 11th anniversary of Patrick's death.

The play, performed by the Birmingham-based drama group, Telling Tales, details the unrelenting campaign of state harassment Patrick was subject to all his life, and the circumstances surrounding his death, as well as the horrific aftermath of his killing, when the RUC refused to let him be seen by doctors or a priest.

The play also recalls the community's search for justice, which resulted in the setting up of a community-based inquiry into his death in 1996 and the forwarding of a comprehensive report to the European Court of Human Rights. In May 2001 the European court indicted the British government for its role in his killing and in other extra-judicial assassinations.

Other events also took place to remember Patrick, who was a keen Irish dancer. On Saturday night, a dance choreographed in his name by Pat Kelly and Eugene O'Donnell, the 16-hand Shanaghan jig, was performed during a ceilí at the Dún Uladh centre.

The American Judge Andrew Somers, who presided over the community inquiry into Patrick's death, came over especially for the weekend's events. Speaking at the events, he commended the spirit and resilience of the community and of the Shanaghan family. Somers, who slammed the British Government and the RUC during the community inquiry, also said that fair, impartial and effective policing was a right for everybody. He believes that the current policing arrangements in the Six Counties do not reflect the new beginning promised in the Good Friday Agreement.


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