1 September 2005 Edition

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Newry republican monument unveiled

On Friday 26 August almost to the day when the original monument at the Republican Plot in St Mary's Cemetery was destroyed in a frenzied attack, a stunning new memorial was unveiled by prominent Newry Republicans Brian Tumilty and Seán Mathers.

Over 2,000 republicans from Newry, South Armagh, South Down and Louth gathered for the unveiling accompanied by three bands and banners of the various local Sinn Féin cumainn.

The march proceeded along a route lined with Tricolours and 22 specially commissioned bannerettes, each one commemorating a local Volunteer killed on active service.

A large group of close relatives of the fallen Volunteers were joined at the graveside by many Sinn Féin representatives from both sides of the border including former Mayor of Armagh and MLA Pat O'Rawe.

Chairperson of the event Ewan Morgan introduced Seán Stewart, Chairperson of Newry Republican Graves Association, who gave an outline of the work that has led to the successful replacement of the vandalised gravestone and thanked all who contributed.

Michael Collins then read the Role of Honour and Tiarnán O Duinnchinn from Monaghan, played two laments on the uillean pipes.

Wreaths were laid by Newry & Mourne Mayor Pat McGinn, by Davy Hyland MLA, Newry and Armagh, by Newry Comhairle Ceantair Sinn Féin, by the Newry Republican Graves Committee, by Newry Ex-POWs and John Mitchell's GFC.

Newry/Armagh MP Conor Murphy, referring to the large turnout of republicans and the magnificent new memorial said that those who smashed the original memorial had only increased the determination of Sinn Féin to build a movement which would finish the work for which the 22 Volunteers had died. Appealing to those present to continue to play an active role in the work of Sinn Féin, Murphy indicated that the months ahead would test the strength of republicans to the limit.

No stranger to Newry republicans, North Kerry Sinn Féin TD Martin Ferris, received a warm welcome. Ferris spoke movingly of the long history of the republican struggle for freedom, equality and justice.

The proceedings concluded with the signing of the National Anthem by Kevin Kearney.

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