7 April 2005 Edition

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Rasharkin Volunteer honoured

Hundreds gathered in Rasharkin on Sunday to mark the 16th anniversary of the death of local IRA Volunteer Gerard Casey. The commemoration was the conclusion of a weekend of events to celebrate the life of the Rosnashane man. On Friday night, leading Sinn Féin member Martina Anderson held a talk in the village on A Hundred Years of Sinn Féin.

Locals also remembered Gerard's brother, Liam, also a member of Óglaigh na hÉireann, who died in a tragic car accident in 1987.

Addressing the crowd, Laoi Áine Ní Pheacoig of North Antrim Ógra Shinn Féin spoke on the issue of collusion.

Recalling the murder of Gerard Casey she said: "Gerard was one of 800 people killed by the British state policy of collusion. Eddie Fullerton, a Sinn Féin councillor at the time of his murder, Patsy Kelly, a nationalist councillor in Omagh at the time of his death, Rosemary Nelson and Pat Finucane, have also fallen victim to this policy."

Laoi Áine briefed the crowd on the anti-collusion campaign that Ógra is currently involved in.

She summed up the feelings of republicans throughout Ireland when she stated: "Just like Thatcher's criminalisation policy was defeated in the H-Blocks of Long Kesh in 1981 British attempts to criminalise our struggle will be defeated in 2005."

The main speaker on Sunday was Foyle MLA and former Hunger Striker Raymond McCartney.

He commented on the courage shown by Gerard and the sacrifices that he was prepared to make for Irish freedom. He paid tribute also to people in North Antrim for their determination in defending this struggle during difficult times and circumstances. As a result of this, he said, there are now more republicans in Ireland than ever before and this would be shown in next month's council and Westminster elections.

Speaking about the weekend, Rasharkin Sinn Féin representative Daithí McKay said: "On behalf of the Gerard Casey Sinn Féin Cumann Rasharkin, I would like to extend our gratitude to everyone who took part and contributed to what was a very fitting tribute to Óglach Gerard Casey.

"The message sent out by this weekend's events is that there are more republicans in Rasharkin than ever before and they are determined to defeat the criminalisation campaign being waged by our political opponents. The massive crowds that continue to turn out for republican events throughout North Antrim shows quite clearly that this campaign has failed."

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