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Christopher O Neill – A brave, courageous republican

11 July, 2013 - by Gerry Adams

Sinn Féin President Gerry Adams TD today attended the funeral in Kilrea, County Derry of party member Christopher O Neill, aged 22 who was killed in a road accident at the weekend with his friend Declan McKenna.

Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness, Daithi McKay MLA,Cathal ÓhOisín MLA,Councillor Kieran Archibald and other local Sinn Féin Councillors and party activists were also in attendance.

Giving the oration Gerry Adams extended his “sincerest condolences and solidarity at this terrible time” to the O Neill and McKenna clans, to Christopher’s mother Maria, his sister Ciara and girlfriend Mairead.

Teachta Adams said:

“The deaths of Christopher and his friend Declan have left a deep void in the lives of the O’Neill, Davey and McKenna families; their extended family circles and the community of Kilrea.

“Their deaths are a deep blow to these families. Your loss is a terrible one. I have some limited sense of what you are going through. Two of my young nephews – teenage brothers Liam and Miceál – were killed in a car crash. Families never get over such a loss. You can only slowly learn to live with it.

“From a very young age Christopher had a deep interest in Irish republicanism. He grew into a deeply committed republican activist and joined Sinn Féin at the early age of 16. He was highly regarded by all of his colleagues.

“I never to my knowledge met Christopher but I have met many hundreds of young activists, like Christopher, who have become involved in this struggle in the years since the IRA cessations and the Good Friday Agreement.

“They are young men and women who were only youngsters in the worst years and have no personal recollection of the war or who weren’t even born then.

“Like them Christopher was a republican through conviction. Yes, he was conscious of his grandfather, John Davey’s, enormous contribution to Irish republicanism and of the circumstances of his death, but Christopher’s republicanism also came from his own deep understanding of the damaging effects of partition and British government involvement on this island.

“Christopher understood that the republican struggle for freedom and justice and the reunification of Ireland is the best means to secure a lasting peace between the people who live on this island and between these islands.

“I am very certain that John Davey, who helped lay the foundations of a strong republican party in this area, would be enormously proud of Christopher.”

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