IRA “Were Not Criminals,” Former TD Sinn Féin Told at Commemoration
Irish Republicans who gave their lives for Irish freedom were not criminals and attempts to demonize them as such would be refuted, former Sinn Féin chief executive Martin Ferris said at a commemoration at the West Cork in honor of the last provisional IRA member to die during the unrest.
Mr Ferris said at a commemoration marking the 25th anniversary of the murder of Diarmuid O’Neill in London by British police that the IRA member was just one of hundreds of Irish Republicans who gave their life since 1969 to build a democratic socialist republic of 32 counties. .
Praying the prayer at Mr O’Neill’s grave in Timoleague in a ceremony attended by nearly 100 people, Mr Ferris recalled how Mr O’Neill (27), born in London, was “the last IRA volunteer to die on active service against the British and the British presence in Ireland”.
‘On September 23, 1996, Diarmuid O’Neill, Paddy Kelly and Brian McHugh were in an apartment in Hammersmith in London and at 4.30 am British police broke into the apartment, arrested two and brutally killed Diarmuid O’ Neill – it wasn’t necessary but they killed him.
“And they thought that by doing that they would destroy that determination of the IRA volunteers to continue the fight against the British presence in our country, but your presence here today, your support and solidarity with the O ‘family Neill denies this. “
Mr Ferris, who served a sentence in Portlaoise prison for IRA activities, said Mr O’Neill was an internationalist who opposed oppression wherever it existed.
He “continues to inspire us in the political struggle” and to “attack the oppressors who have demonized and attempted to criminalize” those involved.
“We were not criminals. We have renounced our freedom and many of us have sacrificed our lives for this struggle, to continue this struggle and to follow the path that has been traced for us from 1798, 1867, 1916 until today ”, he declared with loud applause.
Mr Ferris said Mr O’Neill and his fellow IRA member Edward O’Brien of Wexford, who was killed when a bomb he was carrying exploded on a bus in London on February 18, 1996, were among the IRA members who helped bring in the British government. at the negotiating table.
“They are among the hundreds and hundreds of IRA volunteers who have died since 1969. They are the ones who brought the British government to the negotiating table and, when the ceasefire came into effect in 1994 John Major and his government had the opportunity to make peace. . . . but John Major chose not to.
Mr Ferris said it was only after Mr Major refused to take this opportunity for peace in 1994 that the IRA ceasefire was broken. It was only after the ceasefire was broken that Mr O’Neill and Mr O’Brien died and they should not have died, Mr Ferris added.