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Austin Currie: SDLP founding member gives oration at Michael Collins's graveside

Austin Currie who gave the Collins graveside oration. Picture by Bill Smyth.

A FORMER nationalist MP, who was leading figure in the civil rights movement, delivered the annual oration at the graveside of Michael Collins yesterday.

Collins, along with Arthur Griffith, were the two "giants" of Irish independence who were recognised in a commemoration ceremony at Glasnevin Cemetery in Dublin.

The annual oration at Collins's graveside was given by former TD, MP and minister Austin Currie.

The founding SDLP member, who is regarded as a central figure in the civil rights campaign, spearheaded a peaceful protest after a single 19-year-old Protestant woman was allocated a house ahead of 250 others.

Yesterday he joined others for the Collins/Griffith commemoration which was marked by the raising of the Irish tricolour at the Sigerson Monument by the Defence Forces.

Wreaths were also laid at Collins's grave by Minister for Defence Paul Kehoe; the grave of Arthur Griffith by Deputy Chief of Staff of the Defence Forces, Major General Kieran Brennan and the grave of Eamon Duggan by the mayor of Fingal, Anthony Lavin.

Mr Kehoe said: "This important occasion allows us to reflect on the outstanding contribution made to the state by two colossal figures of Irish politics."

Following the wreath-laying ceremony and readings, a minute's silence was held. This was followed by the sounding of the Last Post and Reveille.

To close the commemoration, soprano Anna Brady sang the national anthem without musical accompaniment.

Chairman of the Glasnevin Trust, John Gree, said: "This commemoration recognises two giants of our struggle for independence; two legends brought together by that struggle and united annually in this observance."

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