4 November 1999 Edition

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Fógraí bháis: John Francis McCloskey

DUNGIVEN, County Derry, buried one of its foremost republican sons, John Francis McCloskey, last Friday morning, 29 October.

In his panegyric, Fr McCloskey (no relation) paid tribute to the high esteem in which John Francis was held in his community. He spoke of his contribution to that community, of his integrity, but above all of his Christian faith.

In my oration afterwards at the graveside, I remarked that Fr McCloskey had omitted to mention the faith that sustained John Francis throughout his lifetime, and that faith was John Francis's republican faith.

I first met John in the spring of 1953. It was a time when republicans were scarce on the ground. It was a time when the oppression of Stormont and its repressive forces weighed heavily on the nationalist community, but John Francis, even then, was unafraid to demonstrate his resistance to that oppression.

In the internment swoop that followed the rising of 1956, John Francis was incarcerated in Crumlin Road Jail, where he spent the next three and a half years. On his release he went to England to work and even there, on foreign soil, continued with his republican activities. For the last 30 years his life had been central to the republican cause. Indeed, two evenings before his untimely death, John Francis attended his local Sinn Féin cumann meeting.

The overflowing congregation at Friday's funeral mourned John Francis's death, just as they celebrated his life.

Ar lámh dhéis Dé go raibh a anam uasail Ghaelach.


An Phoblacht
44 Parnell Sq.
Dublin 1