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New anti-gold mine AOH division set up in Co Tyrone

Members of the new Molly Maguire division in Greencastle with Co Tyrone AOH president Gerry McGeough
Connla Young

THE Ancient Order of Hibernians has launched a new division in Co Tyrone in response to plans to develop a gold mining operation in the area.

The new branch, named the ‘The Molly Maguire Division’, was set up in Greencastle last week week by local people opposed to the mine plans.

Canadian firm Dalradian Gold wants to open a mine and build a processing plant that will use cyanide to extract gold from ore mined locally.

A secret organisation, the Molly Maguires was set up in Ireland in the 19th century to to fight for the land and property rights of Irish people.

The group is believed to have been closely linked to the Ancient Order of Hibernians.

A traditional Catholic organisation, the AOH has members in Ireland, America and parts of Britain.

Organised into divisions, its members take part in annual parades on St Patrick’s Day and mark the Feast of the Assumption each August.

The formation of the new AOH division comes weeks after it emerged that Dalradian has refused to allow two local priests permission to allow Mass to be said at a Mass rock located close to where it intends to build a cyanide processing plant.

Dalradian has disputed the view that a Mass rock exists on the site.

Tyrone AOH president Gerry McGeough welcomed the new division and said “Tyrone Hibernians stand shoulder to shoulder with the people of Greencastle, they have our full solidarity”.

“The forerunners of the AOH were tasked with guarding and protecting the Mass rocks during the penal era,” he said.

“That duty carries right down to the present and Hibernians are particularly concerned about the threat posed to the local Mass rock by foreign mining interests.”

Mr McGeough said the importance of the sacramental stones to rural communities should not be underestimated.

“The image of the Mass rock and all the persecution, oppression and defiance of our ancestors that it represents has burned itself deeply into the Irish psyche,” he said.

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