In this, the 20th anniversary of the deaths of Volunteers Patricia Black and Frankie Ryan, it was a ‘tale of two cities’ with commemorations taking place in both Glasgow and Belfast.
The first of two commemorations organised by the Volunteers Patricia Black and Frankie Ryan Memorial Flute Band (VPBFRMFB) took place in the band’s hometown of Glasgow on Sunday 6 November.
Five bands, representatives of the Black family and upwards of 200 marchers, paraded through Glasgow City Centre in a disciplined fashion, ignoring the provocation posed by loyalist protesters and the inaction of ‘Strathclyde’s finest’.
Culminating in a rallying folk night chaired by the band’s leader, Ian Lynch, the large crowd learned of Patricia and Frankie’s selflessness and sacrifice before being addressed by éirígí’s Six-County Chairperson, John McCusker.
Acknowledging the sterling work of the VPBFRMFB, McCusker commended the discipline and determination of those involved in the commemoration, two traits exemplified by those being remembered.
He said, “The determination and disciplined demonstrated today is not only an echo of that exemplified by Patricia and Frankie, but it is also the bedrock upon which the emerging Socialist Republican movement must and will be built.
“If we are to do any justice to the memory of these courageous volunteers then we must not merely lament the losses our enemies have inflicted upon us but plan for the losses we will inflict upon them and their political and economic systems.
“We must continue their struggle against the occupation of our land and the exploitation of our people.
“We must be guided by the words of another great fighter and organiser of the working class, a Cork woman who met her death in America, ‘Mother’ Mary Jones, who instructed us ‘to remember the dead and fight like hell for the living’. Comrades, it’s time to fight like hell!”
Sunday 20 November witnessed the second of the two commemorations, this time in the Volunteers hometown of Belfast.
The VPBFRMFB, the Black and Ryan families and upwards of 300 republicans assembled in Milltown Cemetery to pay tribute to two of their own. As the sun shone and music strained, the large crowd marched to the graves of the two Volunteers before gathering around the County Antrim Republican plot.
Addressing the gathering was Dublin City Councillor and éirígí activist, Louise Minihan.
“We have gathered here at this historic spot to remember two brave Volunteers with pride. We have gathered to remember their inspirational lives and to rededicate ourselves to the cause for which they died, the cause of Irish national liberation.”
Acknowledging the recent strategic defeats inflicted upon the republican struggle, Louise argued that all had not been lost.
“Despite these setbacks, a vibrant and militant republican movement is in the process of being rebuilt by a new generation who have declared their aim an Irish Socialist Republic.
“Republicanism is back to Connolly and socialist republicanism has emerged as the leading force to challenge British Rule.
“It is the job of each and every one of us, in this graveyard today, to do everything we can to help with the rebuilding of the republican struggle to a point where it can be successfully concluded.”