Northern Ireland

Family hold independent commemoration for senior south Armagh IRA man

Patrick O’Callaghan was part of IRA’s GHQ and Northern Command

Former south Armagh IRA man Patrick O'Callaghan
Former south Armagh IRA man Patrick O'Callaghan

Several hundred people have taken part in an independent family commemoration in south Armagh for a senior IRA member.

Patrick O’Callaghan, who died during the covid pandemic in January 2021, was a prominent republican figure and an opponent of the Good Friday Agreement.

He was also a member of the paramilitary organisation’s ‘General Headquarters’ (GHQ) and was a former ‘Operations Officer’ for the IRA’s Northern Command.

Republicans from across Ireland, accompanied by several bands, took part in the parade through Crossmaglen to the village square on Sunday.

Former US Marine John Crawley, who later joined the IRA, delivered the main address at the republican monument, which is located in the centre of the village.

Those attending heard how Mr O’Callaghan “played a prominent role” in IRA operations in the area.

Mr Crawley said Mr O’Callaghan did not support the Good Friday Agreement.

“Patrick remained loyal to the Irish Republic, proclaimed in 1916, ratified by the 32-County First Dáil Eireann in 1919, and formally outlawed by England that same year,” he said.

“History teaches us that Irish republicanism is easy to understand but all too easy to forget.”

“Patrick O’Callaghan never forgot who he was, where he was from, or what he represented.”

He added that his former friend “did not oppose peace but believed he was entitled, indeed duty-bound, to be critical of a process that could not lead to the objectives republicans fought for so long and sacrificed so much to achieve”.

In a statement the event organisers said: “This commemoration for our dad has been organised by a committee made up of us his children and close friends.

“We have done this as, like many others during the pandemic, he did not get the send off he truly deserved.”