6 June 2002 Edition

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Republicans honoured at Border commemoration

A series of commemorative events was held last weekend in the Roslea/Knockatallon border area of Fermanagh, culminating in a ceremony that attracted several hundred people at the Corragunt border crossing on Sunday evening.

Among the large attendance was a contingent from County Cork, including the Youghal Republican Flute Band, who led the parade along the narrow border road linking the two counties.

A memorial was unveiled last year at Corragunt Bridge commemorating nine Republican Volunteers - Louis Leonard, Tony Ahern, Dermot Crowley, Seamus McElwain, Jim Lynagh, Pádraig McKearney, Peter Ryan, Lawrence McNally and Kevin Barry O'Donnell, who died between 1972 and 1992.

Proceedings at the memorial last Sunday were chaired by Fermanagh District Council member Brian McCaffrey. The main address was given by Cavan/Monaghan Sinn Féin TD Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin. He said:

"We should remember these republicans first of all as ordinary people who made the very difficult decision to forego the comforts and expectations of normal everyday life and to devote themselves to the service of their country. They should not be seen as remote heroic figures but as real people, with the faults and failings common to all of us, with their own individual hopes and fears and with families and loved ones who still mourn their loss. We extend a special word of sympathy and solidarity to their families and loved ones here present and to those who could not be with us today.

"We salute the contribution made by Óglaigh na hÉireann to the cause of freedom, justice and peace in Ireland. In recent years the IRA has provided leadership in the peace process, a task of leadership requiring as much resourcefulness and courage as anything that went before.

"Republicans remain totally committed to the unity and independence of our country, to national freedom and sovereignty and to the coming together of all our people in a national democracy which cherishes all the children of the nation equally.

"More and more people throughout Ireland are now looking to republicans for political leadership. In 2001, Sinn Féin became the largest nationalist party in the Six Counties with the election of four republican MPs. And just last week Sinn Féin made one of the greatest and most historic advances when the people returned TDs Martin Ferris, Sean Crowe, Aengus Ó Snodaigh and Arthur Morgan to join me in Leinster House. I take this opportunity to thank all republicans who played a part in these victories, particularly the retention of the Sinn Féin seat in Cavan/Monaghan. This election also demonstrated more clearly than ever before that Sinn Féin is the only all-Ireland party and that we act as such, with comrades from the Six Counties playing a part in our successes in the 26 Counties and vice versa.

"There are many further challenges ahead. We do not seek political strength and elected office for their own sake. We do so to advance our cause and to put into effect our republican beliefs. The most fitting way to remember and to honour all our fallen comrades is to build the new Ireland for which they gave their lives."

An Phoblacht
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Dublin 1