West Tyrone Sinn Féin -- Building an Ireland of Equals

Former Hunger Striker to address Strabane Commemoration

Published: 23 September, 2013

Former IRA Hunger Striker Raymond Mc Cartney is to the main speaker at the annual commemoration held to remember local republican dead which takes place in Strabane this Sunday with the parade to the Republican Plot at Strabane Cemetery assembling at Bridge Street at 2:30pm. An additional commemoration event will be an evening of song and story entitled "Our War 0ur Story" which will be performed by Derry singer and songwriter Danny Mc Gilloway in the Ballycolman Community Centre between 7-9pm on Saturday evening. Speaking about the weekend events Chairperson of Strabane National Graves Association Jay Mc Cauley said, "This commemoration weekend, in memory of the 23 local republican dead listed on the West Tyrone Roll of Honour and Remembrance, is taking place against a backdrop of a sustained campaign from within political unionism, to establish a hierarchy of victims in which the suffering of families of republicans who have died as a result of the conflict be somehow treated in a lesser way. "The objective of this campaign is an attempt to perpetuate a British/Unionist version of history which is attempting to lay blame for the conflict at the door of one community. Unfortunately, the SDLP has allowed itself to be co-opted onto this agenda, as evidenced by its actions around the SPADs Bill, and by parroting the narrow unionist narrative around the Castlederg Commemoration in memory of Tyrone's republican dead. "As republicans, we recognise that the hurt and suffering of all those who have lost loved ones as a result of the conflict as being equal and we would never attempt to diminish the right of all to remember or commemorate their dead on an equal basis. We just ask to be afforded the same right. "This annual commemoration provides family, friends and comrades of the 23 local republicans listed on the West Tyrone Roll of Honour and Remembrance the opportunity to collectively honour their memory with dignity and pride. It is perhaps fitting, given the ongoing attempts to create a hierarchy of victims, that the main speaker at Sunday's commemoration will be Derry Republican Raymond Mc Cartney. Given that Raymond's first cousin Jim Wray was killed on Bloody Sunday and given that he went on to spend 53 days on Hunger Strike in 1980, his experience is an illustration of just how narrowly blinkered and self-serving the attempted unionist narrative of our past is. "Understanding the reasons and passions that drove a community to resist" will also be the subject matter of a performance by Derry musician and songwriter Danny Mc Gilloway in Ballycolman Community Centre this Saturday between 7-9pm. Utilising the ancient Irish tradition of 'Seanchaí' "Our War Our Story" will tell, through stories, songs and reminisces, the personal life experience of one republican living the worst years of the conflict in Creggan- and a common experience shared by republicans across the north. Admission is free for what promises to a powerful and poignant event. "On behalf of the Strabane National Graves Association, I would encourage local republicans to make a special effort to participate in this weekend's commemorative events as we gather to remember republicans from this area, who lived and died for what they believed."