Sinn Féin - On Your Side

Gerry Adams Oration at the funeral of Frank McGreevy

22 March, 2008

Sinn Féin President Gerry Adams will today give the oration at the funeral of former IRA Volunteer and POW Frank McGreevy's funeral who was brutally murdered by last weekend.

The full text of Gerry Adams oration is below:

Check against delivery

"I never for a moment thought that I would be standing here on Easter Saturday morning giving an oration at the graveside of Bap McGreevy.

On the Tuesday before St. Patrick's Day, I met Frank outside the Sinn Féin office on the Falls Road.

I have known him from the early 70's.

We were in prison together. And as all ex-pows know that creates a special bond.

I didn't see him so often in recent years. At commemorations or demonstrations or when we bumped into each other on the road.

To me he was always the same. He was always 'wee Bap'. Generally cheerful.

Nowadays you hear people saying that it's unusual to hear someone whistling. Bap whistled a lot.

So when we met outside the Sinn Féin centre and walked up Sevastopol Street together he put me in good form.

The next day I had to go off to the USA.

It was there that I received word of the brutal and savage attack on Frank, and the likelihood that he would not survive.

No words can adequately express my deep sense of shock.

I want to extend my deepest and heartfelt condolences and the condolences and sympathy of this community to Frank's two sons, Tiernan and Francis and their mother Denise, to Frank's father Hugh, his brothers and sisters Jim, Elizabeth, Mary, Patsy, Margaret, Tony, and John, to Mary, and the wider McGreevy family circle.

Frank McGreevy did not deserve to die the way he died.

Those who murdered him are out of step with the rest of us, and with their own peer group, who are generally good young citizens.

Those who murdered him are not representative of the people of the Falls.

Frank was a life long republican.

As an IRA Volunteer in the early 70's he repeatedly demonstrated enormous courage and tenacity.

And in recent days his exploits have been the source of much conversation, and more than a little humour.

Frank was first imprisoned when he was 14, in 1970. He spent almost a year in St. Pat's - although he was more often out than in.

Later he spent 18 months interned and then in 1975 he was sentenced to life and came to the sentenced Cages of Long Kesh. He was released in 1990.

How do you describe Frank?

The truth is you can't.

But what we can say is that he was funny, loyal, big hearted, full of craic and good humour, and a very sincere and committed republican.

He was well known and respected. He loved his clan.

He loved music. He loved Celtic.

He was extremely proud of his two sons.

Those who murdered him have no concept of any of this.

His terrible death has created a storm.

Some people, with a quite perverted logic have chosen to blame Sinn Féin in general and me in particular.

Let's be very clear about this.

The thugs who killed Bap McGreevy are the people responsible. No one else.

There are also wider issues of course, about parental responsibility, about alcohol and drug abuse and about how the people of the Falls are terrorized by a small minority of criminals.

Most of them are known to the community, the PSNI and other criminal justice agencies.

Bap was killed because he stood up to them.

So what are we to do?

Do we lie down and let them tramp all over us?

Or do we stand up and assert our rights to live safely in our own homes and our own streets.

Bap McGreevy took his stand. He was not cowed by the thugs who murdered him.

So every able citizen in west Belfast has a question to answer - are we going to be dictated to or put down by thugs?

Or are we going to stand together against them?

Undoubtedly in the wake of events like the murder of Bap many people are afraid, particularly the elderly and the vulnerable.

Now is the time for us to look after our neighbours.

Now is the time for us to unite.

The people of the Falls were not cowed by decades of military occupation and repression.

We cannot bring Bap back but we can stand up for him, as he stood up for us.

The message from this graveside has to be straightforward - it is the same message we sent after the murders of Harry Holland and John Mongan - we want the criminals and thugs off our streets.

None of us here should be surprised by the failure of the PSNI to respond properly to criminality in our community.

The reality is the PSNI is not up to the job at this time of providing the civic policing service that the public demands and needs.

It is failing to deliver on call out times, on responding to information from the public, or in its investigations of anti-social and organised crime.

I know after the brutal and cowardly murder of Frank that the people of the Falls feel frustrated and angry and upset.

I share those feelings.

Every time a comrade fell during the conflict we felt the loss.

And there were many lost in west Belfast.

Hard though this was, it did not mean that we abandoned our struggle. It did not mean that our strategy was wrong.

We carried on because we knew that we were right.

That's what Frank believed in up to his death.

And that is our resolve today at his graveside.

But none of this will happen if local people don't take ownership of the process.

That means getting involved in providing information on criminal activity; that means engaging with the PSNI and other criminal justice agencies; that means joining with and working with the Safer Neighbourhoods Project and other similar bodies, to make your area a fit place to live.

It means parents facing up to their responsibilities.

Frank was extremely proud of his family.

He was proud of his role and contribution to republicanism. And we were and are proud of him.

So let me appeal to anyone with any information about those responsible for Frank's murder to bring it forward.

Now is not the time for us to be insular or stupid.

Frank McGreevy's death has to be the catalyst for the people of the Falls organising themselves against the thugs and criminals, drug pushers, death drivers and murderers.

Let me assure Frank's family that none of us who knew him will ever forget him - a comrade who was a good friend and who stayed true and committed to our republican goals.

So my friends on the eve of Easter Sunday and the anniversary of the Easter Rising let us leave this place determined to advance the goals which inspired Frank throughout his life.

Let us ensure that this is a good and safe place for his sons to live in." ENDS

Connect with Sinn Féin