REPUBLICANS from across Fermanagh gathered over the weekend for a number of Easter commemoration services.
The first of the services took place in Enniskillen on Saturday evening at the Bobby Sands memorial, with members of the local Sinn Féin Cumman also laying wreaths and lilies at the graves of Cissie McGovern and Tom Flately at Breandrum Cemetery.
The main speaker at the Saturday evening event was MLA Jemma Dolan.
“It’s important that we remember those who fought and died for Irish freedom,” she said afterwards, thanking those who organised the event and asked her to speak.
While earlier on Sunday morning members of the west Fermanagh Cumman had gathered in Garrison, the main focus of the Easter commemorations for Fermanagh Sinn Féin were held in Donagh this year, which was held in the village to mark the 50th anniversary of the killing of local man Louis Leonard.
Members of the Leonard family were among the crowd who braved the pouring rain on Sunday for the event, which was the first time in three years Sinn Féin had been able to hold an Easter Commemoration due to the Covid pandemic.
Lisnaskea MLA Áine Murphy was the keynote speaker at the commemoration, which was held in the old graveyard where Mr Leonard – who was killed by loyalists when he was 26-years-old in 1972 – is buried.
In her speech she said they had gathered to remember those who fought for Irish freedom, and to recommit ourselves to the cause of Irish independence, sovereignty and unity and to a 32 County republic that is based on equality and social justice.
Noting 2022 marked a 100 year anniversary of the Irish Civil War, and the Anglo Irish Treaty, Ms Murphy said it was important to remember the role republican women had played in opposing the partition of Ireland.
Ms Murphy said division had held Ireland back for too long, and said we now faced “a real opportunity to shape a better, more prosperous, and equal future for all.”
Stating all Ireland integration was “vital for the development of public services, investment, economic development, social inclusion and diversity”, said said unity would have benefits for everyone on the island.
“Next month will see the Assembly election take place,” she said. “This election is about the future, about the next generation and what people, from whatever background or tradition can achieve if we all work together.”
Elsewhere, a commemorations were also held in Derrylin and Swanlinbar.
The Derrylin commemoration was held by the Sean MacDiarmada Society Fermanagh, and took place at the graveside of Jim Murphy from Corraveigha, on the 48th anniversary of his murder. The civil rights activist was shot while working at his garage in Derrylin on April 20, 1974.
Shane Burke from the Mountain Road Pipe band led the colour party into the graveyard for the event, which was chaired by Cllr Bernice Swift.
The main speaker was Phillip Donoghue from Dublin. He said those gathered drew inspiration from “generations of unbending patriots.”
“We can honour our patriot dead in many ways, but the most effective way is to be effective ourselves in advancing the struggle for which they gave their lives,” he said.
Cllr Swift sang a specially penned song written in tribute to Jim Murphy before the Piper played Amhran na bhFiann to close the proceedings.
Just across the border the Fermanagh/Cavan Republican Sinn Fein 1916 Commemoration took place at Mullen in Swanlinbar, remembering republican volunteers James Crossan, John Duffy and Patrick McManus, who was from Kinawley and was killed in an explosion in Swanlinbar in 1958.
Speaker at the commemoration was Hugh McGovern, Cavan Comhairle Ceantar, Republican Sinn Féin, used his speech to hit out at sectarianism and called for “The Ireland envisaged by Theobald Wolfe Tone.”
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