19 December 2002 Edition

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Malachy Carey


A biting cold December wind cut like a knife through the crowd gathered in Loughiel's graveyard in north Antrim last Sunday afternoon. The occasion was the annual commemoration for IRA volunteer Malachy Carey. This year's anniversary was special for the Carey family and for the republicans of north Antrim. Ten years ago on 13 December loyalists shot Malachy dead in Ballymoney town.

Sinn Fein Councillor Phillip Mc Guigan presided over the ceremony. Malachy's mother, visibly moved by the solemnity of the occasion laid a wreath for her family and a wreath was laid on behalf of the Republican Movement.

Cllr Mc Guigan welcomed the gathering and made special mention of the presence of Michael Mc Creesh, brother of Raymond who died in hunger strike in 1981. He later introduced Árd Comhairle member Jim Gibney, who said that.two words constantly came back to him when him spoke about Malachy Carey to comrades of his: "They were 'solid' and 'dependable'".

"These qualities, at any time, for republican activists are very important because the task we have set ourselves of freeing this country from British occupation is not an easy one," he said.

Malachy first went to Crumlin Road prison in 1977. He was twenty-one years of age, yet he was one of the oldest there. The vast majority of prisoners were in their late teens. He was sentenced in 1978 and joined the blanket protest until it ended after the end of the second hunger strike, three years later in 1981.

At a crucial stage in the protest for political status he was moved in to Bobby Sands' cell. This was at the stage when the prisoners were planning their first hunger strike. He spent eighteen months in the same cell as Bobby, which took him through the first and the second hunger strikes. "These were extremely demanding and challenging times and Malachy was an important part of Bobby Sand's team," Gibney said.

"His nickname during this time was 'the suitcase'. When I asked a comrade of his who was with him in Bobby's wing how he got the nickname he said: 'He carried a comb, four parker pens, a camera, 27 comms, and part of an Irish grammar book hidden in his body.'

He was Bobby Sand's 'suitcase', an invaluable assistant in those very difficult days. Every time he hid an item he was risking instant attack by warders; he was also risking many other things as well. He did this for eighteen months without complaining.

"Malachy spent ten years in gaol. He was released in 1987. He could easily and justifiably have moved on in his life given the contribution he had made to the republican struggle at that stage.

"But that wasn't his way. Malachy was a republican volunteer, ready to play whatever part was asked of him. On his release in 1987 he immediately returned to the ranks of the IRA. In the local government elections of that year he stood as a Sinn Féin candidate in his native town of Loughiel and polled very strongly.

"Malachy was constantly harassed by Crown. He was arrested several times and RUC personnel threatened to kill him. But the threat didn't deter Malachy.

"They carried out their threat on 12 December 1992 in Ballymoney when a loyalist bullet took Malachy's life. He was 36 years of age. The tenth anniversary of his death took place on Friday past.

"Malachy's killing has all the hallmarks of a loyalist killing and indeed it was loyalists who killed him. But the circumstances surrounding his death are similar in nature to those surrounding the deaths of a number of other republicans from the South Derry and North Antrim areas during this time.

"The RUC tried to recruit as an informer a close female friend of Malachys'. Someone inside the RUC passed onto loyalists the RUC's intelligence files on Malachy. The RUC confirmed that loyalists had this information. The crown forces knew his movements. They were not readily available to loyalists. Yet loyalists had precise information about Malachy's movements on the day they killed him."

Gibney said that Carey's killing was part of a legacy of British collusion both in North Antrim and throughout the Six Counties.

"Freedom struggles often produce heroes, which we admire and hope to emulate. They inspire us in the work we do and give us energy to carry on when the situation gets difficult. I know for the people of this area Malachy Carey is one such hero, a touch stone for those who are carrying on Malachy's work."

An Phoblacht
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Dublin 1