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Oration at the annual Martin Doherty Commemoration Glasnevin Dublin delivered by Seán Crowe TD

27 May, 2017 - by Seán Crowe TD

"They say that loved ones never forget, so it is right and fitting that we gather here again this year at his grave to remember Volunteer Martin Doco Doherty.

"On your behalf I want to begin by expressing our sympathies to the family and friends of Martin “Doco” Doherty.

"Doco was for many of us ‘older’ republicans here today a personal friend.

"Today is a day of personal reflection, deep sadness but also one of immense pride.

"Sad he is no longer with us to have a jar, share a joke, listen to my great singing or give out about Dessie Ellis’s awful one liners.

"I’m extremely proud to have known him, proud to be able to call him a friend and a comrade.

"He was a father, a husband, a brother, a son, a Dub, a Volunteer in the Irish Republican Army, a member of Sinn Fein a former political prisoner and had seen active service both here and in Britain.

"On the night of his death he was helping out doing security on the door of a fundraising function for republican prisoners in the Widow Scallans Public House in Pearse Street.

"Republicans were always on alert for the possibility of a loyalist attack in Dublin but that was far from minds of most of those who were enjoying the music.

"The IRA had declared a ceasefire but it was still very early in that process. We were in a period of talks about talks and no one really knew where those tentative discussions would go.

"The Irish Brigade were playing, it was jammed to the rafters with about 300 people in attendance.

"With everyone enjoying themselves and the front door closed, Doco left the function and joined some friends in the bar downstairs.

"This was also full with people watching a big boxing match on the TV.

"We don’t know why he left the Bar but we know he went outside.

"Alone and unarmed he heard or saw something that was unusual.

"Doco’s intervention stopped the loyalist bombers but he was shot twice in the body and mortally wounded.

"Doco’s courage and quick thinking on that night undoubtedly saved hundreds of lives. His intervention at the cost of his own life had prevented the loyalists from priming the 18 lb bomb that they abandoned beside his body.

"For that the people of Dublin, all those in the Widow Scallans Public House, and those living in the houses alongside the pub owe him, and his family, their eternal gratitude.

"Those living today are part of his legacy.

"It was the first attack by the UVF in the State since the 1970’s.

"This was the same loyalist organisation that was responsible for the Dublin Monaghan bombings that 43 years ago resulted in the largest loss of life in the conflict.

"There is widespread belief that those involved the so called Gleannane Gang were armed, directed, and supported by elements of the British security services. To this day the British Government has refused to release any of their files relating to that attack.

"There is a similar belief in republican circles that those behind the killing of Doco also had some assistance and support on that fateful night.

"Martin Doco Doherty was a man of action.

"He wasn’t someone who could stand by and allow what was clearly going to happen in the Widow Scallans and took action.

"Doco wasn’t someone who could stand idly by and allow a wrong happen in his community or his country.

"His politics and his republican beliefs were based on what he had seen and experienced in his own short life.

"For him it was quite simple.

"Britain had no right, or never had any right, to be in, or claim jurisdiction over any part of Ireland.

"He was proud of the republican men and women of 1916 who had fought in this City, which we collectively celebrated last year.

"He was equally proud of the men and women of other generations and his own, who had fought to end British rule in Ireland.

"He was active in the H Block / Armagh campaign and when the hunger strikes of 1980 and 81 occurred and worked tirelessly to save their lives.

"Doco like many of us was changed forever by the deaths of Bobby Sands and his comrades.

"He was shot dead by the UVF on the night of the 21st May 1994.

"The Special Branch who had sat outside the function across the road all night, conveniently disappeared 20 minutes prior to the shooting.

"The car was burnt out in a laneway at the back of the Five Lamps Pub in the North Strand which again would suggest that the bombers had some local support or back up.

"Another man, Paddy Burke, was shot and injured on the night by a bullet through the front door but thankfully survived.

"What Martin ‘ Doco’ Doherty did on that night was truly heroic.

"He literally saved hundreds of lives that night.

"His courage and quick thinking during the attack undoubtedly prevented amassacre.

"The late Martin Mc Guinness spoke at his funeral and described him as a brave republican Volunteer, a freedom fighter, a freedom seeker.

"Doco’s funeral and the guard of honour by his comrades in the Dublin Brigade upset John Bruton or John Brutal as he was always known in our house.

"I often thought Doco would have particularly enjoyed upsetting him and his fellow blueshirts.

"Bruton called the republican guard of honour by his comrades in the Dublin Brigade as “appalling, provocative and dangerous for everybody living in this city.”

"Not surprising to republicans he was silent about Doco’s bravery, his sacrifice and the circumstances surrounding his death.

"The IRA ceasefire was to collapse later that year due to his complete lack of any understanding or leadership and his grovelling support for the Conservative Governments Cul de Sac approach to a peace settlement in Ireland.

"I began by saying 'loved ones don’t forget'

"Martin Doco Doherty loss like that of all our loved ones is deeply felt, not only by his immediate family, but also by all his friends and former comrades.

"As for me I will always treasure his memory. He loved the craic and had an infectious smile that I can still recall 23 years later.

"Martin Doco Doherty was a Fenian.

"I believe he would have liked that description.

"What’s the words of that song?

"'We may have good men but we will never have better.

"Glory O Glory O to the bold Fenian men'."

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