24 July 2008 Edition

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Strabane remembers Fian Tobias Molloy

Tobias Molloy

Tobias Molloy

ÓGRA and Sinn Féin activists from Tyrone and Derry gathered in Strabane on Wednesday, 16 July to commemorate the 36th anniversary of the death of Fianna Eireann recruit Tobias Molloy.
 Molloy was 18 years old when, returning from his girlfriend’s home in Lifford, he was struck above the heart by a rubber bullet fired by the British army.
 The British propagandists were quick to claim that Tobias was shot while taking part in a riot but these claims were disputed by local eyewitnesses, who were adamant that he was nowhere near the riot, and was shot down in cold blood without reason.
Local youths helped carry the injured Tobias to Lifford hospital where he was pronounced dead on arrival.
As his body was taken home from across the border, accompanied by hundreds of mourners, it was attacked by British soldiers as it passed by their army base. Mourners were forced to fight their way through as they were attacked with batons and rubber bullets, some of which hit the hearse which carried the dead Fianna boy’s coffin.
The funeral which was attended by thousands of people from the West Tyrone area stretched over five miles to the Donneyloop graveyard in Donegal. As the remains reached the cemetery it was surrounded by hundreds of Free State soldiers and Gardaí, who were there under the auspices of preventing an IRA tribute, a tribute that had already been paid before Tobias’s remains left his hometown.
At the commemorative vigil on Wednesday republicans assembled at the spot near the former “Camel’s Hump” checkpoint, where in 1972, the young Fian was shot dead by a rubber bullet fired by the British crown forces.
Strabane Sinn Féin councillor Brian McMahon spoke of the determination and bravery shown by the youth of Strabane and West Tyrone throughout the war.
“As we stand at this spot 36 years on from the murder of our comrade Tobias let us not forget that this was a young man aged only 18 years, the same age as some members of Ógra Shinn Féin here today. I think it is particularly symbolic that those young people that have organised this vigil here tonight are of the same age and from the same community as this brave young Fian. The youth of Strabane should educate themselves on the brave activities of our past generation of republican youth, and take inspiration from their example and join in the struggle for independence.”
Also speaking at the vigil was chair of Strabane Ógra Shinn Féin, Seán Mac Giolla Easpaig who thanked everyone for turning out despite the bad weather.
“It is important that we commemorate the death of this young member of Fianna Eireann who at such a young age saw the need to stand up for the rights of his community and country and join the freedom struggle. This area has a strong history of republican youth and we in Strabane intend to continue that proud tradition as we plan to name our local Ógra Shinn Féin cumann after Tobias Molloy.”

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