SINN Féin TD Matt Carthy delivered an ‘inspirational talk’ to a packed St Pat’s GAA clubhouse in Donagh on Saturday at the Louis Leonard Lecture ahead of the 50th anniversary of his death.
Mr Leonard was murdered in his butcher’s shop in Derrylin on December 15, 1972.
The Canon Tom Maguire Sinn Féin Cumann was pleased with the turnout at the memorial.
“People from across Ireland travelled to Donagh to hear Matt [Carthy] give an inspirational talk on Louis [Leonard], his part in the struggle for justice, equality and Irish independence,” they said.
“Had it not been for the men and women like Louis who took a stand against injustice, we would not be in the position of strength we are in today.”
Ciarán Leonard remembers his late brother as ‘a proud man.’
“He was a man of honour and integrity – to many young people in our community he was a role model,” he said.
“He was proud of his Irishness and his heritage. He loved Gaelic football and most sports. He was a proud Knocks Gratton and a founding member of St Pat’s GAA club Donagh.
“Those that knew him best say that he was a modest man, a man of great courage and commitment, a decent man who was faithful, considerate and generous.”
Betty Leonard, Louis’s widow, was among the large crowd who attended the memorial. Also in attendance was members of the late Aiden McAnespie and Angela D’Arcy’s families.
The Leonard family, like many others across the county and the North, have criticised the proposed British Government’s amnesty plan which would prevent prosecutions for conflict-related offences and close down both present and future police and Police Ombudsman investigations, civil actions and legacy inquests.
Their quest for justice and a better future for all ‘is far from over’, said Ciarán.
“We have a new society to build on this island. A society built on fairness and equality. One that allows us all to have a stake-hold and threatens no one’s constitutional identity,” he said.
“A unity of views and ideas. We cannot change the past but we can try, and must try, to manage and shape the future – our children’s future lives depend on it. That’s something I think we owe to Louis Leonard and the many other lost souls of the conflict.
“Lets build and shape our future together – an Ireland of equals.”
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