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30 July 2010

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Remembering the Battle of St Matthew’s

Bett Dorrian, whose husband Rab was killed on active service in 1972, officially opens the Garden of Remembrance

UP TO 1,000 republicans from across Belfast and some from further afield gathered in the Short Strand area of Belfast on Sunday, June 27th, to remember the Battle of St Matthew’s and the sacrifice of the people from the area who died in the struggle for Irish freedom.
Republicans from the east Belfast enclave used the occasion of the anniversary of the Battle of St Matthew’s to open their newly-built Garden of Remembrance in honour of their dead comrades and as a reminder to their families that these brave comrades “would never be forgotten”.
Betty Dorrian, whose husband Rab was killed on active service in 1972, had the honour of officially opening the garden.
Hugh McComb, a member of the An Tine Beo committee which organised the programme to mark the commemoration of the events of 40 years ago, stated in his speech:
“We are here today to pay our respects to our fallen comrades who died for Ireland’s freedom.”
He described how the Short Strand and Ballymacarrett community had to fight for its very survival since the inception of the Northern state after partition.
“This was a struggle for the very existence of a small nationalist, republican enclave which existed under the shadows of the giant cranes of the Belfast shipyard as a symbol of unionist power and domination.”
While many people travelled across Belfast to stand with the people of ‘The Strand’, the people from the district turned out in huge numbers for the parade that made its way through the area and was addressed by Sinn Féin President Gerry Adams MP.
This was a clear indication of how people identify with what was and is clearly seen as one of the most significant periods in the struggle to break unionist power in the North.
The IRA re-emerged out of the pogroms of 1969 but the Battle of St Matthew’s effectively marked the end of unionist rule in the North.

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