Tuesday, 14 December 2010

éirígí: Fallen IRA Volunteers Remembered in Newry

On Sunday, December 12, around 70 republicans and socialists gathered at the iconic Egyptian Arch in Newry to commemorate the 90th Anniversary of an ambush in which 3 IRA volunteers lost their lives.
The éirígí-organised event entailed the unveiling of a commemorative plaque and was attended by people from across the district and further afield. It was also fitting to have family members of the volunteers in attendance.

During the event, a PSNI helicopter hovered overhead keeping everyone under surveillance, but they failed in their attempts to intimidate those in attendance.

The plaque was unveiled by Jackie Shields, whose grandfather, volunteer Peter Shields, fought bravely in the Egyptian Arch Ambush and died as a result of wounds he received.

A wreath was then laid and a minute’s silence was observed.

The event was chaired by local éirígí activist Stephen Murney.

Murney spoke about the growth of éirígí in the Newry area and the Crown Forces harassment that has come with it.

“The most recent incident occurred just a few hours ago when myself and a fellow éirígí activist were stopped by the British police in Hill Street after we had just collected this memorial plaque,” he said.

“We were surrounded, forced from the vehicle at gunpoint and made to stand with our hands raised above our heads while we were vigorously searched. The vehicle we were in was also extensively searched and the political police attempted to remove the plaque from the boot of the car. We strongly objected to this and lifted it from the car ourselves.

“After roughly 20 minutes, during which time they made snide remarks about the plaque, they let us continue on our way. It’s ironic that we are here commemorating an event in which the then RIC was one of the targets and, now, 90 years on their predecessors in the PSNI are trying to disrupt us and disrupt our commemorative event.

“Let us make one thing clear: no amount of petty harassment and intimidation will ever stop republicans from honouring our patriot dead, nor will it deter us from our political activities.”

The guest speaker for the event was prominent local republican Davy Hyland.

Hyland explained in great detail the history surrounding the ambush and the funerals that followed, which, according to reports, were the biggest ever seen in Newry, with an estimated 20,000 people turning out to pay their respects.

Hyland asked: “What, I wonder, would volunteers Canning, O’Hare and Shields make of contemporary Ireland 90 years on? As staunch Irish republicans, I doubt if they would be enthusiastic or happy with the current state of play.

“In the south, due to the greed of the banks, developers and the corrupt government itself, they have had to be rescued by the IMF and EU at a cost of €85 billion. In their latest budget, their response has been to once again target the most vulnerable in society, with massive cuts being imposed on the young, the old, the sick, the unemployed and those living on the minimum wage.

“Yet the politicians in Leinster House, along with their big business cronies, who were the ones who actually created the crisis, escape with their own wealth intact with their bonuses guaranteed and with their gambling debts paid off by those who played no part in the fiasco.”

Hyland added: “As republicans, we do have a duty, not only to remember the past, but also to organise for the future in a comradely fashion.

“I would like to thank éirígí for organising this commemoration and erecting this plaque for the Egyptian Arch Martyrs. It ensures that volunteers Canning, O’Hare and Shields will always be honoured and remembered.”


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