Mc Guinness addresses Loughgall commemoration
Published: 9 May, 2012
Platform party (l-r): seated: Alannah Campbell, Cathal Og Donnelly, Martin Mc Guinness MP, Liam Lappin, Colm Gildernew and Paul Kelly (standing)
Republicans assembled at the monument on Cappagh's Main Street on Tuesday evening to commemorate the 25th anniversary of the Loughgall ambush. The commemoration was timed to coincide with the actual date and time of the ambush 25 years ago.
The proceedings were chaired by East Tyrone Sinn Féin member, Paul Kelly and the main address was given by Mid Ulster MP Martin Mc Guinness. During his address, Mr Mc Guinness said:
'I am proud and honoured to be here this evening to remember the 8 volunteers and the civilian who were killed by the SAS at Loughgall 25 years ago this evening. I want to pay particular tribute to their families for the terrible ordeal they have experienced.
'The northern state was founded on the basis of inequality and denial of democracy. Discrimination was rampant against the nationalist population and in every decade, young people have risen up to challenge this and to force an end to British occupation. This is the path that the volunteers killed at Loughgall chose and in doing so, they followed in the footsteps of Pearse and Connolly.
'Sinn Féin wants an end to British rule in Ireland and we want the establishment of a 32 county democratic socialist Republic. It is a tragedy that so many of our young people have had to take up the fight against British occupation, but in doing so, they received a huge level of support here in the 6 counties and significant support from comrades throughout the rest of the country.
'This was a very intense and difficult struggle. The volunteers were faced by the military might of a British empire who would not recognise the legitimate right of the Nationalist people or even consider that an alternative solution could be found.
'During that long war, people made huge sacrifices and the volunteers showed immense courage in standing against the state forces. The men who died at Loughgall were people of the highest calibre and continue to be held in the highest regard in Tyrone and in communities throughout Ireland and beyond.
'A huge credit must be given to the families in their fight for truth and justice. As a result of their efforts and persistence, in 2001, the European Court of Human Rights found the British guilty of violating the human rights of the men they cut down at Loughgall.
'It has been 15 years since I was first elected in this constituency when I challenged Mc Crea for the Mid Ulster seat. At that stage, many thought that the task was impossible; however they have been proven wrong. The people of this area and other parts of East Tyrone and South Derry have remained resolute behind our party in our efforts to advance the peace process and strive towards a united Ireland.
'No longer are we second class citizens and the day of the Orange Order ruling over us is far gone. Tyrone is one of the most Republican counties in Ireland and people here clearly understand and accept the Sinn Féin strategy. We have an alternative way forward using political means and I never want to see another young person going to jail as a result of the political situation in this country.
'We must continue to show political leadership and move forward with confidence in ourselves and in the communities who support us. Sinn Féin is committed to building a New Ireland that is free, sovereign and independent. This is something we owe to future generations, to the Loughgall Martyrs and to the hundreds of other people who have laid down their lives in the cause of Irish freedom'.