Northern Ireland

Large crowd attends Tyrone National Graves event

 Tommy McKearney 
 Tommy McKearney 

A large crowd has attended an Easter commemoration in Co Tyrone.

Several bands took part in the parade as it made its way through Carrickmore yesterday.

Organised by the Tyrone Nation Graves Association (TNGA), the annual event is usually one of the county’s largest Easter commemorations. The TNGA is an independent body that tends to the graves of deceased republicans across Tyrone and is non-party-political.

The parade made its way through the village before a short ceremony was held at a nearby garden of remembrance where those in attendance were addressed by former republican prisoner Tommy McKearney.

Mr McKearney focused on the theme of General Liam Lynch, an IRA chief of staff killed by Free State forces during the civil war, who declared in 1919: “We have declared for an Irish republic and will not live under any other law.”

Mr McKearney said the language used when discussing a united Ireland can lack proper focus.

“Terminology such as ‘Irish unity’ and ‘united Ireland’ are too vague in meaning and provide refuge for those who can use such terms for political effect but without any obligation to pursue them,” he said.

Mr McKearney also addressed contemporary issues and Ireland’s place in global affairs.

“Just as at the beginning of the 20th century, when the rationale behind the granting of Home Rule was not to give Ireland independence, but to keep Ireland within the empire’s orbit of control so too today, faced with the inevitability of change, the forces of contemporary imperialism, Britain, the EU and the United States continue to ensure that Ireland remains a colony of the powerful,” he said.

“In this project they have, yet again, found allies among the Irish.”

Mr McKearney accused the Irish government of failing to end partition.

“A coalition government in Dublin siding with Nato, beholden to foreign capital and rejecting any move towards ending partition,” he said.

“And a parliamentary opposition that is ambivalent about its relationship with the British royal crown.”

Tyrone man Brian Cawley, who is stepping down as TNGA chairman after 25 years, was thanked for his service. He said it had been an honour and thanked everyone for their support.

His replacement Eamonn Hanna said he was “humbled” to take over from Mr Cawley whom he described as a “principled republican who stood up to bullying and intimidation from many quarters”.

“Tyrone National Graves is proud to remember Tyrone’s patriot dead,” he said.