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Republicans mobilise for Tyrone Volunteers Day
Published: 29 November, 2016
Hundreds of Republicans from throughout Tyrone gathered in Loughmacrory on Sunday evening for the annual Tyrone Volunteers Day.
The event, organised by Sinn Féin remembers the Republicans who lost their lives during the conflict. The torchlight procession, reminiscent of the Hunger Strike vigils, was led by a lone piper and a 24 strong colour party in 1916 attire.
The main commemoration took place at the graveside of IRA volunteers Gerard and Martin Harte where South Derry MLA Ian Milne delivered the main oration. In his address, Mr Milne, a former POW said:
"I am very honoured to be here tonight at this event to remember the Volunteers of Co Tyrone and throughout Ireland who paid the ultimate price when they gave their lives for the cause of Irish freedom.
"During my lifetime, I have met many of these men and women. Some on active service and others in the jails.
"I am thinking this evening of good comrades like Martin Hurson, who gave his life on hunger strike and Pat Mullin, a good friend who I knew both inside and outside jail.
"These were people, who because of the unfinished business of uniting Ireland, the experience of oppression and discrimination, stepped forward and joined the IRA.
"They were ordinary people who became guerrilla fighters and learnt as they went along. They became part of an army that fought the Brits to a level they never dreamt was possible, and we stand here tonight to remember them with pride, and re dedicate ourselves to the cause for which they died.
"I want to say also to all those volunteers who risked their lives and liberty that you too are remembered with that same pride - the men and women who spent years in jail and those who have suffered both physically and mentally because of the nightmare that war is.
"I want to acknowledge the contribution and support of so many people in this locality down through the years who provided a place of safety, food or whatever was needed. You were the backbone of this struggle. Everyone doing their bit in whatever way they could.
"Today we have political activists that carry on this work of building an Ireland envisaged in the 1916 proclamation, one that cherishes all the children of the nation equally.
"There is still a lot of work to be done. Different from what has went before and not without its own challenges. The reunification of this country has been no easy task and there is no magical solution.
"Many campaigns have been fought but have never been totally successful. , the united Irish men, the 16 rising and the campaigns of the 50s and 60s, all striving for freedom but never quite got there and having to hand it on to the next generation.
"There can be no question that we have come a long way - breaking down the orange state and changing attitudes and aspirations, and building the confidence of the nationalist people here in the north.
"So let us reach out to each other as Republicans and step forward with the same commitment as the volunteers of the IRA.
"To comrades that have drifted or become disillusioned, I say to you that I am the same man I have always been and want the same thing as I always have and I know that you are no different.
"Whatever political progress we have made to date, we forget at our peril, that it was made on the backs of our volunteers.
"So for the first time in Irish history, I believe, that we have the opportunity to achieve what has eluded us for centuries, and with the calibre of the people here today we have the ability and determination to do it.
"What better way could we honour the men and women who have sacrificed so much".
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