5 September 2002 Edition

Resize: A A A Print

Memorial rededicated

The 30th anniversary of the deaths of IRA Volunteers James Carlin and Martin Curran was marked in the County Down town of Downpatrick last Friday, 30 August.

The commemoration ceremony was planned to coincide with the rededication of the memorial to republicans from the South Down area that has twice been wrecked by loyalists.

The memorial, which is at the spot, near St Patrick's Avenue, where IRA Volunteer Colum Marks was shot dead by the RUC in 1991, has been at the centre of controversy ever since it was erected. Unionists, supported by the SDLP, have tried to get the memorial removed, while loyalists on two occasions have smashed the monument.

The last time the memorial had been rededicated was during a ceremony in early April, but within days it and a second memorial in Castlewellan - also in County Down - were sledgehammered by loyalist gangs. The grave of IRA Volunteer Paul Magorrian was desecrated at the same time.

Speaking to An Phoblacht at Friday's ceremony, Sinn Féin councillor Eamon McConvey said: "Everyone has the right to remember and commemorate their dead. South Down republicans have that right also and our memorials should be allowed to remain unmolested. The reality is that every time this or any other memorial is desecrated, it will be replaced."

Sinn Féin Assembly member Mick Murphy described Martin Curran and James Carlin as, "dedicated and committed republicans". The men were killed when a bomb they were planting at Downpatrick race course exploded prematurely. They had been on a mission to blow up the grandstand, which was due to hold a race meeting in aid of the British Army's benevolent fund.

In his address, Mid-Ulster Assembly member John Kelly called on republicans to keep their eye on the ball and not be distracted by the war that is going on within unionism.

"The war within unionism is designed to create crises within the peace process because unionists can't deal with change," he said, calling on those present to continue to work to establish the united Ireland that "these brave Volunteers struggled for".

On Sunday 1 September, the memorial in Castlewellan was also rededicated.

An Phoblacht
44 Parnell Sq.
Dublin 1