Northern Ireland

Gerry Adams delivers Kevin McKenna oration

Former IRA chief of staff Kevin McKenna
Former IRA chief of staff Kevin McKenna

GERRY Adams yesterday delivered the graveside oration at the funeral of former IRA leader Kevin McKenna.

Mr McKenna died in hospital after a short illness earlier this week.

A large crowd attended his funeral at St Mary’s Church, Magherarney in Co Monaghan.

Dozens of men dressed in white shirts and black ties formed a guard of honour and flanked the coffin, which was draped in a tricolour, a beret and gloves.

Kevin McKenna's funeral took place in Co Monaghan
Kevin McKenna's funeral took place in Co Monaghan

Originally from Brantry, near Dungannon, Mr McKenna lived for many years in the Smithborough area of Co Monaghan, where he helped run a family pub.

He was a former 'chief of staff' of the IRA, a role he held when the organisation called its 1994 ceasefire.

He remained close to the republican leadership and several senior Sinn Féin figures attended both his wake and funeral.

Among the mourners yesterday were current Sinn Féin president Mary Lou McDonald, her deputy Michelle O’Neill and MEP Matt Carthy.

Local TD Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin was also present and spoke briefly at the graveside.

The main concelebrant at Requiem Mass was Fermanagh-based priest Fr Joe McVeigh .

Mr Adams, Louth TD and former president of Sinn Féin, praised Mr McKenna at the graveside.

"Kevin and his comrades relentlessly and defiantly fought the British army,” he said.

“The British army didn't have a chance of defeating the spirit, centuries old, of an indomitable people, with character, and the culture, and the history and the sense of freedom as old as Ireland."

Fermanagh Sinn Féin councillor Chris McCaffrey also attended the funeral.

He said he didn't know Mr McKenna personally but "I don’t think he got enough recognition for what he did to sell the ceasefire to hardline IRA members or others that didn't think the ceasefire was the right option".

"I send my deepest condolences to Kevin's family and regret the passing of this great republican."