Northern Ireland

Republicans urged to focus on united Ireland at Easter Rising rally in Carrickmore

Annual Tyrone National Graves Association Easter parade

Easter commemoration parade makes its way up Creggan Road in Carrickmore. PICTURE: JASON MCCARTAN (Jason McCartan Photography)

Republicans have been urged to focus on Irish unity at an Easter Rising commemoration in Co Tyrone.

Hundreds of people and several bands took part in the parade, organised by the Tyrone National Graves Association (TNGA), as it made its way through Carrickmore on Monday.

The TNGA is an independent body that tends to the graves of deceased republicans across the county.

After the parade a short commemoration was held at a garden of remembrance in Carrickmore.

Among those who spoke was Farah Koutteineh, who along with several pro-Palestinian colleagues was ejected from a Sinn Féin function at the Europa Hotel in February.

Eamonn Hanna, chair of Tyrone National Graves Association, led the event and spoke about the affinity many Irish people have with Palestine.

“People ask why the Irish have so much solidarity for the Palestinian people?” he said.

“It is because we have suffered as they suffer.

Tommy McKearney AT Carrickmore on Easter Monday. PICTURE: JASON MCCARTAN (Jason McCartan Photography)

“We have been killed, been impoverished, been starved or been forced into exile as a result of the occupation and oppression of our land.”

The main address was delivered by Caoimhe Ní Loingsigh, Secretary of Tyrone National Graves Association.

Ms Ní Loingsigh is from a prominent republican family and two of her uncles, Padraig McKearney and Seán McKearney, both members of the IRA, were killed during the Troubles.

Mohammed Smsom from Gaza lays a wreath at the Garden of Remembrance in Carrickmore. PICTURE: JASON MCCARTAN (Jason McCartan Photography)

“Tyrone has an historic record of fighting the English oppressor and has always produced the most fearless descendants baptised in the Fenian faith,” she told those assembled

She later added “there are those however who claim to hail from the wider republican family, who do not share my adoration for our fallen heroes”.

“We are seeing former IRA members and so-called republicans insulting the memories of our brave volunteers by endorsing the presence of the English monarchy and rule in Ireland,” she said.

“We as the heirs to Connolly, Clarke and Pearse’s republic, will not idly sit back and let those who support imperialism worldwide while simultaneously administrating it in Ireland to destroy the reputation of our brave volunteers.”

The colour party leads the parade up Carrickmore Main Street. PICTURE: JASON MCCARTAN (Jason McCartan Photography)

And Ms Ní Loingsigh added: “You simply cannot claim to be a republican while also being a bedfellow with the very system in which you claim to oppose.

“For those who seek to wine and dine in the palaces of England, I only have to recite the words of Mary MacSwiney, sister of Terence MacSwiney in my condemnation of their adulation for the English monarchy, ‘I will never accept the king of England as the king of Ireland’.”

The Tyrone woman urged those present to focus on a united Ireland.

“Let us march forward together, united in our righteous anger, until justice prevails, and Ireland is free once more.”

During the commemoration the proclamation was read by Marian Vincent, a sister of Patrick Vincent, who was killed along with three other IRA members during a British army ambush at Clonoe, Co Tyrone, in 1992.

The Tyrone ‘Roll of Honour’ was read by Kevin McElvogue, a nephew of 1981 hunger striker Martin Hurson while several wreaths were also laid.