25 October 2001 Edition

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Memorial Stone unveiled in Crossmaglen

On Sunday 21 October, 1,000 people gathered at the entrance to the village of Crossmaglen, South Armagh, to witness the unveiling of a memorial stone dedicated to the memory of 12 republican prisoners who died on hunger strike - the ten young men who died in Long Kesh and two fellow republicans, Frank Stagg and Michael Gaughan, who died in English jails.

Sinn Féin Councillor Terry Hearty chaired the proceedings and invited Paddy Quinn, former hunger striker, and Bik McFarlane, OC in the H Blocks at the time of the 1981 hunger strike, to unveil the Memorial Stone. A local woman, Patricia Quinn, recited a decade of the Rosary and Fr. Brian McCreesh blessed the memorial stone.

Sinn Féin Assembly member for Newry/Armagh, Conor Murphy, praised the people of South Armagh who have supported Sinn Féin throughout this phase of struggle. "Faith in the peace process is spread thin in this area whilst all other political parties, the churches and the two governments focus solely on silent IRA weapons and ignore the remilitarisation by the British forces here in South Armagh," he said. "There is certainly no peace dividend evident in this area. However, we must redouble our efforts to ensure that the struggle for Peace, Justice and Freedom is successful."

The Roll of Honour was read by former hunger striker Laurence McKeown.

Bik McFarlane said: "There can be no doubt that the hunger strike laid the foundation stone for this present phase of struggle. Young people today have been inspired to become involved in political struggle to free this island and its people from British rule because of the sacrifice made by these republican prisoners."

The proceedings finished with the playing of Amhrán na bhFiann by the Cullyhanna Band.











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