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30 July 2010

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Derry Volunteers Commemoration honours fighting spirit

THE annual Derry Volunteers Commemoration on the last Sunday in June was a time of reflection for all republicans and remembrance of the sacrifices made particularly by IRA Volunteers but also the civilian population in epic struggles against the RUC and the British Army such as the Battle of the Bogside and the fight for justice for the fallen of Bloody Sunday.
Martin McGuinness, the former IRA activist and joint First Minister, paid tribute to the fighting spirit of Derry.

BY MARTIN McGUINNESS

Battle of the Bogside

Battle of the Bogside

JUNE 27th marks the 40th anniversary of Volunteers Thomas McCool and Joe Coyle and July 8th marks the death of Volunteer Tommy Carlin, who died as a result of injuries received when a premature explosion occurred in the McCool home. This tragedy also claimed the lives of two of the McCool children, Bernadette and Carol, who we also remember.
Forty years ago, Derry mourned these deaths and the Republican Movement lost three stalwarts of our struggle who were founding members of the resurgent Irish Republican Army. These men were aware of the political injustices that were being perpetrated by the then Stormont regime and decided to take a stand and fight this oppression.
A dark cloud descended on our city that day as these three dedicated and courageous Volunteers became the first of over 40 Volunteers to pay the supreme sacrifice in the course of the conflict and struggle for freedom.
But today we stand here facing a brighter future where, through the sacrifice of men and women of the calibre of Thomas McCool, Joe Coyle and Tommy Carlin, we are able to construct a political process through which we can now deliver the united Ireland for which they died, through peaceful and democratic means. We can now pursue our goals and aspirations without our young and finest either losing their lives or their liberty to achieve them.
Only a fortnight ago, we witnessed the British Government - and a Tory one at that - being forced to admit the innocence of the 14 men murdered and 13 injured on Bloody Sunday. Never before in Britain’s history has its government pointed the finger of accusation and guilt at a regiment of the British Army. It was achieved through the tenacity, determination and resourcefulness of the Bloody Sunday families. And they are to be congratulated on their achievement.
The same determination and resourcefulness, if applied to our political project, is capable of delivering equally successful results. Our project is to build a new ‘Ireland of Equals’ and now as the largest party in the North we have put equality at the heart of government. We must continue to build on our achievements to ensure that we reach the united, independent and sovereign Republic for which our comrades gave their lives. When we set our sights on something, we keep at it until we achieve it.
We were told that we would never get the DUP into power-sharing government based on equality. Where are they now?
We were told that we were wasting our time attempting to get policing and justice powers transferred back to the island of Ireland. Where are they now?
The work to develop the all-Ireland agenda is proceeding with more co-operation between the Dublin and Belfast governments than ever before. Our strategy of moving towards a united Ireland is progressing and is proving beneficial.
At events such as the Derry Volunteers Commemoration, we pay tribute to the men and women who, through their selfless sacrifice, have allowed us to develop that strategy and who paid the ultimate price for that dedication. So I appeal to everyone to turn out for commemorations and recommit themselves to playing their part, however small, in delivering the Republic that our patriot dead fought for.

Annual Derry Volunteers Commemoration

BY SEÁN ÓG GALLAGHER

Paul Fleming

A CROWD of over 1,000 people took part in the Derry Volunteers Commemoration on June 27th, parading from Creggan to the Republican Plot in the City Cemetery and accompanied by bands from Derry and Strabane.
The event was chaired by Sinn Féin Councillor Elisha McLaughlin.
Niamh Duffy, a granddaughter of Volunteer Joe Coyle, read out the Derry Brigade Roll of Honour. Siobhan Kiely, a granddaughter of Volunteer Thomas McCool, read the Derry Roll of Remembrance.
18-year-old Ógra Shinn Féin member Pádraig Barton from the Brandywell area, who was killed in a road accident earlier this month, was included on the Roll of Remembrance for the first time.
Wreaths were laid at the Republican Monument on behalf of Óglaigh na hÉireann, Derry Sinn Féin, and the Derry Republican Graves Association by members of Ógra Shinn Féin.
Michael McCrossan of Ógra Shinn Féin gave an update on the work young republicans are involved in in the city.
In the main oration, Councillor Paul Fleming recalled the deaths of each IRA Volunteer from Derry who died during the current phase of the struggle and said their memory motivates the republican leadership today.
“The struggle that they helped create and build has laid the foundations for where we are today. We have moved forward in many ways but there are still challenges for us. As Bobby Sands said, everyone has a role to play in that.
“This generation of republicans will ensure that our children and grandchildren will have a better quality of life, free from British oppression. The basis of that struggle was laid by the Volunteers we are here to commemorate and we will build an Ireland that is a fitting tribute to their memory.”
The commemoration ended with Sara Griffin singing the National Anthem.

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