8 November 2001 Edition

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Fógraí bháis

Volunteer Jimmy Drumm

"Most people would consider themselves lucky in their lifetime to meet one person who was considered a legend in their time. The Drumm family have had the unique distinction of being brought up by two such people." So spoke Belfast republican Brian Keenan at the graveside of Volunteer Jimmy Drumm, who died on 18 July last at the age of 81 after a long struggle with cancer.

Jimmy was born in Belfast just as the Orange State was being founded in the blood of nationalists and throughout his life he was involved in the struggle to establish the Republic usurped by Partition.

The unionist inspired pogroms of the early '20s were the hallmark of the Six Counties and the sectarianism and inequalities on which unionist rule was built were the injustices that Jimmy Drumm fought against all his life.

He joined the IRA in the 1930s and was a Volunteer in the Beechmount unit.

He was about 17 when he was first arrested for his republican activities, an envelope collection to raise funds for the Army, in 1938. Sentenced to two years imprisonment he spent that time in Crumlin Road prison.

On completion of his sentence he was interned for the first time. Throughout his life Jimmy was to spend 13 years in prison as an internee prompting his wife Máire to comment in 1972 when Jimmy was in Long Kesh, "at the present time I'm a married woman with a husband in Long Kesh who has been interned for 13 years altogether in three different phases of internment without trial. He went back in 1956 and was in until 1960. Now he's back since August 9 1971. I've had three periods of internment in my life in that I've suffered internment as a young girl, having a fiancé in prison, then as a a young wife with a husband in prison and five children to rear on my own. And now as a middle aged woman, my husband who's also middle aged is back in prison again".

He was the most jailed republican in the Six Counties at one time.

During his first period of internment, which lasting until 1945, Jimmy took part in the Mutiny in Derry jail, when IRA prisoners took over the wing they were being kept in.

According to a statement delivered to the prison governor by the OC, Sean McArdle, the internees were protesting against their continued imprisonment without trial.

It was after his release in 1945 that Jimmy met and married Máire and started their family. The Drumms had five children: Seamus, Margaret, Catherine, Sean and Máire Óg. Seamus, Sean and Máire also spent time in prison for their republicanism.

Jimmy was interned during the 1956 to '62 campaign but again on his release continued to be active in the struggle.

He was a member of the National Graves Association in the 1960s, fallow years when republican people like Jimmy Drumm kept the flame burning.

Among the Volunteers who were the backbone of that resistance when the RUC, B Specials and loyalist mobs invaded the Lower Falls in August 1969 was Jimmy Drumm. And Jimmy, along with other veterans from earlier campaigns such as Joe Cahill, Jimmy Steele, Liam Burke and Billy McKee, was instrumental in rebuilding the IRA and making it the most, "effective guerrilla force in Western Europe".

Interned in the 1971 swoops, Jimmy was released only to continue his work for the Republic.

However, his release wasn't to be the last time he would be in a prison cell. He was later held with Joe Cahill by the Immigration Service in New York. He also travelled to Australia, where he met many Irish/Australians, including one prominent politician of Irish descent, who promised his support for the Republican cause. However, that support materialised in the form of a letter three weeks later informing Jimmy he was barred from entering Australia again!!

Jimmy's wife Máire was assassinated in 1976 by loyalists. It was a tragedy for Jimmy and a big blow to the Republican Movement.

Jimmy's death brought to an end the life of a man who lived through the 8 decades of partition and British injustice in Ireland.The struggle to end that rule continues and the epithet of the likes of Jimmy and Máire Drumm will not be truly written until Ireland holds her place among the nations of the world.

I measc laochra na nGael a bhfuil sé. To his sons Seamus and Sean and daughters Margaret, Catherine and Máire we extend our sympathy.

An Phoblacht would like to thank Willie John McCurry for his help in compiling this obituary.

Belfast honours Máire Drumm

Assassinated 25 years ago

A ceremony to commemorate the 25th Anniversary of the assassination of Máire Drumm will be held this Sunday 11 November in Belfast.

Organisers of the commemoration event are asking people to assemble at the gates of Milltown Cemetery at 1pm before parading to Máire's graveside. Afterwards, a gathering to celebrate Máire's life will be held in the Felon's Club.

Máire Drumm was Vice-President of Sinn Féin when she was shot dead on Thursday night, 28 October 1976, by a loyalist death squad as she lay in a hospital bed.

The loyalist Red Hand Commando, attached to the UVF, shot the high profile Sinn Féin woman dead in the Mater Hospital where she had gone to receive treatment for an eye complaint.

Hated by the unionist and British establishment, Máire Drumm articulated the politics of the Irish struggle in a way that angered them. In Republican News at the time, Peter Dowling pointed the finger at the British establishment and accused the then British Direct Ruler Merlyn Rees of waging a vendetta against the Sinn Féin Vice-President.

The British media set the tone for Drumm's death when they dubbed her the 'Granny of Hate' and 'Grandma Venom'.

The organisers of the Máire Drumm Commemoration are inviting as many people as possible to attend Sunday's events.

An Phoblacht
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