Carthy address Swanlinbar Republican Commemoration
Matt Carthy MEP was the main speaker at a commemoration for Patrick McManus and James Crossan at the outskirts of Swanlinbar, Co. Cavan last Sunday. McManus and Crossan were IRA Volunteers who were killed in the summer of 1958.
At a well attended event on Sunday members of the local community were joined by Republicans from across counties Cavan, Fermanagh, Monaghan, Leitrim, Tyrone and Roscommon. Elected representatives in attendance included Fermanagh South Tyrone MP, Michelle Gildernew, her constituency MLA colleague, Seán Lynch, Sligo Leitrim TD Martin Kenny and local councillor, Damian Brady. Matt Carthy’s running mate for the upcoming Cavan Monaghan General Election, Pauline Tully, was also in attendance.
During the course of his address, Matt Carthy said:
“It’s an honour to be speaking here at this commemoration of Volunteers Patrick McManus and James Crossan.
“The fact that we are all meeting here today to remember them, sixty years after their deaths in the summer of 1958, is testament to the esteem in which Patrick and James are held – for their vision, their courage, and their sacrifice.
The loss of these two young men in the struggle for Irish freedom remains a painful legacy and has deeply affected this border community.
“I especially want to pay tribute to the members of the families of these men who are here with us today.
“IRA Volunteer Patrick McManus was OC of the IRA’s South Fermanagh Brigade. He died on an isolated country road on the border, very near here, on this day in 1958 when a bomb he was transporting exploded prematurely.
“Patrick’s death took place in the context of a series of IRA attacks across the Six Counties on 15, 16 and 17 July.
“James Crossan, the Sinn Féin Organiser for County Cavan, was assassinated by the RUC on 24 August 1958. That Sunday evening sixty years ago, James had travelled to Swanlinbar to procure a Tricolour to fly at a Sinn Féin meeting planned for the following night in Ballyconnell.
“He and his neighbour offered others a lift to the border and then walked with them over the crossing. As the unarmed James Crossan walked back to the car, he was shot dead by RUC assassins lying in wait on the Cavan side of the border.
“The RUC’s attempted cover-up about the circumstances of this assassination quickly failed as the truth became clear.
“The Resistance Campaign that began in December 1956 took place in an incredibly oppressive and difficult context.
“The campaign occurred in an Ireland stunted by conservatism North and South and marked by economic stagnation and gross inequality leading to massive unemployment and emigration.
“The campaign was met with internment without trial both sides of the border, with harassment and repression.
“But it showed that despite the restraints imposed on people across this island, there were still young Irish men and women willing to risk their lives to achieve a truly free nation. Thousands of people attended the funerals of the volunteers who lost their lives during this campaign.
“This spark of resistance in dark times showed the world that Irish freedom was unfinished business, and it inspired a new generation of republicans. The men and women of that Republican generation deserve our recognition and gratitude.
“Republicans had always made clear that if a peaceful and democratic path of struggle towards our objectives was opened up then we were morally and politically obliged to take that path.
“The recent peace process opened that new way forward and the IRA, with the same courage they showed during every phase of the struggle, endorsed that new strategy, that new road to our objectives, and set aside armed actions for good.
“The peace process must be built upon and this is a work in progress, as the display of sectarianism we have seen over the past weeks in the North has shown.
“Sinn Féin remains committed to re-establishing the power-sharing Executive and Assembly in the North. But we need partners who are willing to govern for all citizens on the basis of equality and respect – partners who accept that citizens have rights which cannot be denied any longer.
“Some of the challenges that we face today are very different from those we have faced in the past – but our goals of achieving a united Irish republic based on equality and social justice remain the same.
“Undoing Partition and its effects continues to be central to the building of a progressive, inclusive, open and forward-looking society.
“Here in this state, some combination of Fine Gael, Labour and Fianna Fáil have been in power since Partition.
“Between them they built a conservative and corrupt state with an economy designed to serve the interests of the few – the wealthy, privileged minority. The housing and homelessness crisis, and the crisis in our health service today are clear indicators that these parties continue to fail the Irish people.
“In order to change this country for the better, Sinn Féin wants to be in government North and South. But not at any price. We don't want to be part of the system. We want to change the system.
“We will only participate in a government based on equality, that improves people’s lives and reflects our republican ideals.
“Here in this part of the country, the challenge of Brexit and the prospect of a hardening of the border are foremost in our minds.
“The approach of the chaotic and divided British Tories in these negotiations has been to put Ireland last. The Irish government and the EU need to make it clear that Ireland needs to come first. We will not be collateral damage in the Tory Brexit.
“In recent days we have seen the British government’s White Paper on the future of Britain’s relationship with the EU.
“Sinn Féin welcomes the commitment to no hard border on the island of Ireland, a commitment to the letter and spirit and of the Good Friday Agreement, and the commitment to a backstop for the Island of Ireland.
“But we were given these commitments as part of the agreement last December, and we had been promised legal clarity and certainty by March of this year and again in June.
“We urgently need legal certainty about post-Brexit arrangements in Ireland for our political and economic stability.
“It is well past time to move beyond promises. What is required is immediate and urgent negotiations to deliver clarity and certainty on Ireland’s interests and the rights of citizens.
“The challenge of Brexit is changing attitudes towards Irish reunification. Brexit is clearly causing people to question the constitutional future of the North and encouraging support for an all-island economic, political and social framework.
“Poll after poll in the past two years have shown a consistent rise in the proportion of people who say they would vote for a united Ireland. This trend is most pronounced among young people.
“Such a significant change in attitudes represents a historic opportunity for all those of who support a united Ireland to act together to win a referendum on Irish unity in the near future, a right provided for under the terms of the Good Friday Agreement.
“A referendum on a United Ireland is an explicit provision of the Good Friday Agreement, supported by an overwhelming majority of voters on this island two decades ago.
“Now is the time for all of us who believe a united Ireland will provide a better future - parties, community groups, trade unions, businesses and individuals - to work together to seize this historic opportunity. We need to build popular support for the demand for a referendum while also working patiently to convince those who disagree that their interests will be represented in s new Ireland, and that their voices will be heard and respected.
“Like the many other Volunteers and republicans of their generation, Patrick McManus and James Crossan carried our struggle, our hopes and our ideals through incredibly difficult times. They remain for us an inspiration.
“The sacrifices of the past have unlocked the door to change and now as a people all that remains is for us to open it.
“Our republican vision is inspired by the sacrifice of our patriot dead but reinforced by our obligation to the children of the present and future generations.
“There are no limits to what we can do or the potential of our political strength. It is an important time for new members to become involved and help organise Sinn Féin in every community and neighbourhood. Our party wants you talent, ideas and energy.
“Today Irish unity is on the immediate political agenda. It is a realisable goal. Together, and with the memory of Patrick and James in our hearts, we will achieve it. That is the only fitting tribute to their memory and their sacrifice.
“I hope we can go from here today with renewed momentum and confidence and make that vision our shared reality”.