4 November 1999 Edition

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Tyrone's tribute

The Cairde republican ex-prisoners office in Bridge Street, Strabane, was the venue on Saturday, 30 October, for the launch of West Tyrone Remembers, a booklet published by the Strabane branch of the Tyrone National Graves Association.

John Kelly, a republican ex-prisoner and chairperson of Strabane National Graves Association, welcomed everyone to the launch especially the families of those profiled in the booklet. He spoke of the importance of preserving the memory of republican martyrs and the need to continue to promote the cause for which they died - a free and independent Irish republic. Kelly said the booklet is not only a tribute to all those who gave their lives since 1921 in the area but is also dedicated to all republicans who have participated in the struggle for Irish freedom.

Kelly then delivered a message from Martin McGuinness, Sinn Féin MP for Mid-Ulster and Chief Negotiator, who had been delayed at the ongoing talks in Belfast. In his message, McGuinness paid tribute to the families, friends and comrades of the West Tyrone Martyrs and acknowledged the dedication of all those who featured in this book. ``These are ordinary people who had seen the effects of British rule in Ireland and took steps to achieve Irish freedom by whatever means possible.''

He also thanked the ex-prisoners group, Cairde for hosting the launch and congratulated the Strabane Branch of the National Graves: ``This book is an excellent example of how an area can commemorate and document the ultimate sacrifices made in this struggle for Irish freedom.''

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