Eighteen years ago, on a bleak February night in the Irish Free State, another patriot son of Ireland lost his life. He was not the first, nor will he be the last Irish patriot to loose his life in the struggle to liberate Ireland from the clutches of English imperialists and Irish gombeens.
That man was Dominic Mc Glinchey, a son, a brother, a husband, a father, to many of us a friend and to all of us an inspiration and a comrade.
To say that Dominic’s life was the struggle for the liberation of Ireland is a gross under-statement. And what it meant to live in a police state where rights became privileges and freedom was temporary, was shown to him at the young age of seventeen when he was interned without trial. Thrown into the cages of Long Kesh in 1971 this was to be the first of many encounters that Dominic would have over the years with a corrupt and unjust legal system, designed not to administer the law in an even handed way, but to break the will of those who would have the audacity to stand-up and demand their rights. And Dominic was one of the first to stand-up not only for his own rights but also the rights of others, he did so in a proud and defiant way so that no-one could be in any doubt that no matter what the cost, he would be on the side of the oppressed and not the oppressor.
Indeed, Dominic’s commitment to standing-up for what he believed in was so great, that he soon became a figure of fear within the corridors of power and the then administrators of English rule in Ireland launched a campaign of repression and vindictiveness against him, reserved for anyone demonstrating the virtues of leadership that exposed the corrupt and artificial nature of this immoral and illegal state. Time after time he was harassed, arrested, vilified, imprisoned, attempts were made to take his life and attempts were made to defame his good name, laws were changed to imprison him and all of the principles of what are good and decent in any society were set to one side in an attempt to do what the English have never been able to do in Ireland, that is, to break the will of one Irish man who refuses to be broken.
That Dominic Mc Glinchey refused to ever bend the knee in the face of oppression and corruption, from wherever it came, is what made him an enigma to his enemies. However, for us, his friends, family and comrades, it is what made him the great liberator that he was. It was what gave him the responsibility of showing by example the passion and love for a (cause and a people) that he knew to his very core was just and right. In those days when Dominic was shuttled North and South more frequently than the Belfast to Dublin train, he demonstrated by his dignity and resolve that nothing in the arsenal of oppression could break the spirit of an Irish Republican determined to liberate his people.
Such determination and passionate commitment to a cause as noble as wanting to see your people live in peace and freedom would be met with the only response that oppressors and those who would settle short of freedom knew. Hence on that bleak February night another patriot son of Ireland lost his life. And while the loss of yet another hero of the struggle for Irish liberation was a blow to us all, Dominic left for all of us a legacy that even yet our enemies try to diminish, that legacy is, that it is right to stand-up for what you believe in, that it is right to expose corruption wherever it exists, that when met with institutionalized violence it is right to resist and that it is right for every Irishman and Irishwoman to speak out against the injustices and abuses of power that they see, from whatever quarter they see it. By his example he also gave us another important legacy and that was that the struggle for national liberation is not confined by the narrow parameters of a single organization or grouping. No, the right to engage in the cause to liberate your people and your country transcends organizational or party political boundaries, the cause of Irish freedom belongs to all of the people of Ireland and only when the will of that people is expressed without external interference, can Ireland begin the process of building the Republic that will be a fit and enduring testimony to the bravery of men and women like Dominic and Mary McGlinchey.
So while today is about remembering the dedication and selfless sacrifice of those who paid the ultimate price for Irish freedom, and pausing to think, how different it would have been if the injustices of military occupation had not been foisted upon us, let us also take the opportunity to celebrate the commitment of an Irish Republican hero and his contribution to the just and noble cause of setting his people free. Let us take the example laid down by Dominic, Mary and others, that only when we begin to look beyond sectional interests and narrow minded sectarianism, can we begin to see the bright horizons of a true Republic, that only when we allow the objectives of the struggle to determine our actions can we create the common purpose needed to complete that struggle, that only when personal interests are set to one side can we truly liberate and that all of our endeavors will be dedicated to ensuring that the next generation of Irishmen and Irishwomen do not have to face the hardships and choices that Dominic, Mary and their generation have had to face.
It would be remiss of me to leave this graveyard today without recognising those who in many ways are the unsung heroes of our struggle, they are the families of men and women like Dominic and Mary Mc Glinchey. Thank you for giving us a shinning example of a freedom fighter, thank you for giving us your son, brother, husband and father in struggle and thank you for giving us the opportunity here today to pay tribute to the legacy of an Irish patriot.
We also need to recognise and pay tribute to the commitment and sacrifice of women in struggle. Women like Mary McGlinchey who were to the fore of our struggle for national liberation. This struggle never was and never can be the sole preserve of men.
A Dhominic agus a Mháire …… thank you for the memories, thank you for the inspiration, thank you for the dedication and most of all thank you for being you. Go raibh mile maith agaibh, your loss will not be in vain.
Ar aghaidh linn le cheile. Tá sé suas linne uilig an streachailt seo a chríochnú. Tiochfaidh ar lá.