10 January 2002 Edition

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Barney McFadden - Father of Derry republicanism laid to rest

Barney McFadden was a "colossus of the struggle in Ireland", Sinn Féin's Martin McGuinness told mourners at the funeral of the veteran Derry republican, who died suddenly on Christmas Eve.

McFadden, who was 80 when he died, had suffered a stroke a number of years ago, although true to his fighting spirit he never let it get him down and he led as active a life as anyone in the intervening years.

McFadden was buried in Derry City cemetery after a funeral mass in St Eugene's Cathedral, which was attended by hundreds of people, including many leading republicans from across Ireland. Among the mourners was Sinn Féin President Gerry Adams and long time republican activist from Belfast Joe Cahill.

As his coffin was carried into the Cathedral, the national flag was not removed, thus fulfilling one of Barney's wishes that his coffin would lie at the altar draped in the Tricolour.

The huge funeral cortege left the Cathedral after the Mass and led by three drummers, proceeded to the cemetery.

At the graveside McGuinness praised Barney as a man who was dedicated to his culture and his country. "He was Irish through and through. He knew what he was".

McGuinness went on to say that he was "lucky enough to have known Barney McFadden most of my life. Nothing could shake Barney McFadden in those dark days of the early '70s. They were desperate days, but Barney had an indomitable spirit and was a source of great inspiration."

McGuinness recalled the occasion when Barney challenged a priest after some remarks he made during Mass at the Long Tower chapel in 1972, a thing that was unprecedented at the time. He said that Barney wasn't into speech making but this was his way of saying, 'this is my church too.

The Sinn Féin MP went on to recount some of the events of the last 30 years, saying that when republicans found themselves having to face major decisions such as taking seats in Leinster House or in Stormont, "such decisions were even harder for people like Barney McFadden but "Barney was intent that republicans would represent the people. He had an absolute desire to see Sinn Féin as a party of the people".

"Barney McFadden was a fair man, he was a just man," said McGuinness. "He was one of the leaders of the struggle. He was one of the greatest men I have been privileged to meet in the course of the struggle."

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