30 July 2010
Tyrone IRA Volunteers honoured
TYRONE VOLUNTEERS DAY was marked by republicans assembling on Main Street, Cappagh, County Tyrone on July 13th. The annual commemoration coincides with the anniversary of the death of Tyrone Volunteer Martin Hurson, who died on hunger strike on July 13th 1981.
The main commemoration was preceded by the finals of the Martin Hurson Memorial Gaelic football tournament. The men’s final was won by Loughdoo, while a Tyrone selection triumphed in the women’s final.
At the Republican Monument on Cappagh’s main street, the proceedings were chaired by local republican Paul Kelly, chair of the Hurson/O’Hanlon Sinn Féin Cumann, while a colour party was provided by members of Ógra Shinn Féin.
The commemoration day also saw the launch of the Dwayne O’Donnell Ógra Shinn Féin Cumann. Dwayne and three other republicans were killed by pro-British agents on March 3rd 1991.
Speaking at the commemoration, Cavan/Monaghan TD Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin said:
“County Tyrone republicans have borne more than their share of suffering and sacrifice during the struggle since 1969. The names of 54 Tyrone IRA Volunteers are on the Roll of Honour, as well as three members of Sinn Féin. In the month of July alone you recall the first name on Tyrone’s Roll of Honour, Volunteer Denis Quinn, who died in 1972, Volunteers Martin Hurson and William Price, both of whom died on this day in 1981 and 1984 respectively, and Volunteer Seamus Woods in 1988. These are but a few of the names recalled with great pride by the republican people of County Tyrone.
“We honour them all equally and we extend our continuing sympathy and solidarity to their families. No one can measure the grief to loved ones caused by a tragic death and our thoughts go out to all the bereaved.
“Each and every one of those who gave their lives for freedom in this county and across the 32 Counties was part of a struggle that had endured through the worst that the Orange state and the British regime could throw at it.
“They were part of a struggle with a strategy, with a leadership and with widespread support. It was a struggle that was strong enough and resilient enough to adapt and change its strategy when required. It was a Movement that had the confidence to recognise that there was a time for war and a time for peace. And the Movement acted on that recognition and by doing so helped to transform politics in this part of Ireland and across Ireland.
“We owe a tremendous debt to the republicans who sacrificed so much in the past. They created the conditions which allowed the next phase of republican struggle to move forward. They fought the British Government and all its forces to a standstill. They made a new politics possible. Their legacy is a proud one and it means that today we have a peaceful way forward to our republican objectives and no young person need face loss of liberty, injury or death in the struggle.
“It was always the commitment of Irish republicans that if they could construct a peaceful path towards Irish unity and independence then they would do so. This has been the achievement of our generation of Irish republicans.
“We have taken up the huge challenge of dialogue and negotiation. Republicans have had the courage to move first. They have had the bravery to set aside long-held methods of struggle and to forge new ones. In this we salute the Volunteers of Óglaigh na hÉireann, the Irish Republican Army, who helped to bring the republican struggle united and intact into a new era.
“A great debt is owed also to the members and supporters of Sinn Féin throughout Ireland. You have been key participants in the republican peace strategy.
“Over a decade ago we were central to the negotiation of the Good Friday Agreement and all that can flow from it. While short of our ultimate objective, we ensured that the Agreement was based on the principle of equality and had the potential to move the struggle forward. Our judgement was correct and, as a result, politics on this island has been transformed.
“Sinn Féin is now in a power-sharing government here in the Six Counties. The Good Friday Agreement and the St Andrew’s Agreement have seen the establishment of an Assembly and an Executive in which power is shared between nationalists and unionists and an All-Ireland Ministerial Council. The All-Ireland Ministerial Council and the structures for all-Ireland co-operation should be seen as opening the way to a new era of governance on this island.
“I commend the leadership being given to the people of Tyrone by Sinn Féin in this county. It is a sign of your strength and the effective leadership you have given that today, for the first time, Sinn Féin holds the chairs of all four district councils in Tyrone – Michelle O’Neill, the first woman to occupy that position in Dungannon and South Tyrone, Declan McAleer in Omagh, John McNamee in Cookstown, and Michaela Boyle in Strabane. And Tyrone republicans ensured the re-election of the three Sinn Féin MPs who represent this county – Michelle Gildernew, Pat Doherty and Martin McGuinness. Maith sibh uile.
“These electoral advances are hugely important. They place on us a great responsibility to represent the people who elect us and to bring about the real progress to which we are committed. We need to help make a positive difference in the lives of people in all communities. But we need to do more. We need to use the political strength and platform we have been given to advance towards the ultimate goal for which our comrades died.
“That goal remains the same and our commitment to it remains undiminished. Our aim is an end to partition, a united Ireland and a new Republic on this island, a Republic truly worthy of the name. We are determined to reach that destination and we will achieve freedom. Ar aghaidh linn le chéile chun saoirse.