28 October 2010
Mayor hosts ceremony to commemorate death of Councillor Martin McCaughey
Tyrone republicans’ tribute to Óglach killed with Volunteer Dessie Grew in SAS ambush
THE Mayor of Dungannon Council, Michelle O’Neill, has hosted a ceremony to commemorate the death of Councillor Martin McCaughey. Martin was killed on active service with Volunteer Dessie Grew on October 9th 1990.
A framed commemorative portrait of Martin was unveiled in the Mayor’s parlour by Galbally Councillor and friend of Martin’s, Mickey Gillespie.
Councillor O’Neill said:
“When Martin was elected, he was the youngest councillor in Ireland at the time. He was also a good friend of my late father, Brendan Doris, who served on the Council with Martin.
“As well as being a Sinn Féin councillor, Martin was also an IRA Volunteer, a talented Gaelic footballer, a gifted joiner and, importantly, he was a loving son and brother to his family.
“Twenty years ago, the political climate was very different than it is now. At that stage, our party bore the brunt of repression. There was endless intimidation and harassment of our activists, the party was censored in the media, and there was a relentless loyalist campaign, funded and directed by the state and which resulted in the murder of many of our activists, their family members and friends.
“It was in this climate that Martin bravely put his head above the parapet and stood for election to represent the people of his beloved Cappagh and Galbally.”
Councillor Francie Molloy MLA added:
“Martin McCaughey was a very brave republican who understood the important role of politics and political representation in advancing the cause of Irish republicanism.
“In the earlier days in Dungannon Council, Sinn Féin representatives were continually shouted down by unionist members and it was within this political cauldron that Martin - accompanied by Brendan Doris, Seamus Cassidy and Anita Cavlin - bravely stood up to represent the people.
“Martin and his colleagues were instrumental in bringing equality to the heart of this chamber and it is testament to our political strength and development that Michelle O’Neill, in her capacity as Dungannon Mayor, is hosting this commemorative event this evening.
“Martin was a brave republican in every sense of the word and, along with Volunteer Dessie Grew, was not afraid to take on the might of the British state but unfortunately lost their lives at the hands of the SAS outside Loughgall on October 9th 1990.
“After Martin’s death, I was privileged to be selected to stand for election for his seat. This has become known as the infamous ‘Torrent by-election’ which was held on November 1st 1990
“At that stage, our party colleague, Sheena Campbell from Lurgan, was appointed as the director of the election. Sheena was a law student at the time and a very gifted political organiser who introduced a scientific approach to fighting elections. This ‘Torrent’ model is used by the party to this very day.
“Sheena was an exemplary person who led from the front. I accompanied her up and down the lanes of Tyrone on the campaign trail. Against the odds and despite the combined efforts of the SDLP and unionists, we took the seat in a historic victory. This was a huge morale lift and a fitting tribute to Martin and the people of east Tyrone.
“In a tragic twist of fate, our esteemed colleague and leader Sheena Campbell was murdered on October 16th 1992 by loyalist gunmen in collusion with the state whilst in the company of her university colleagues in the York Hotel, Belfast.
“Her loss was a huge blow to the Republican Movement and it is fitting that we also remember Sheena on this historic night.”