On Saturday the 29th July the Matt Fitzpatrick, 1916 Society Newtownbutler held a very successful commemoration walk for Volunteers Seamus McElwain and Tony Ahern. The men were both killed while on Active Service just outside the town of Roslea.

Tony (Anthony) Ahern was a Cork native grew up in St Joseph’s Park in the Mayfield housing estate in Cork city, he went to school in North Monastery. He was a keen sportsman and a member of Clann Éireann athletic club. Despite being many hundreds of miles away from the conflict, Tony joined the Cork Brigade of Óglaigh na hÉireann and went on to fight alongside his comrades in Fermanagh/Monaghan border. At aged 17 Tony was killed in a premature explosion, the first Volunteer from the South to be killed on Active Service in the Occupied Six Counties. At the time Tony’s coffin was refused entry into the Catholic Church in Roslea because of the inscription on his coffin, it was eventually allowed entry after the inscription’s removal. Tony is buried in Carraigaline, Co Cork.

Seamus McElwain grew up on a small family farm in Knockatallon. He joined Na Fianna Éireann at 14 yrs old, later join joining the ranks of Óglaigh na hÉireann, at 19 he was the OC of the Fermanagh Brigade. Seamus was given the opportunity to study in the USA, but refused stating ‘No one will ever accuse me of running away from the struggle”. Seamus was arrested in 1981 and took part in the mass escape from Long Kesh 1983 in which he played a major role. He went straight back to Active Service. Seamus was described as one of the most influential guerrilla fighters within the Republican Movement of the era. He was eventually killed on Active Service in 1986, aged 26.

There is a mile between the spots where Tony and Seamus were killed, 13yrs between these tragic deaths. This was a serious loss to the Movement and to everyone who knew them, especially their families; they are still mourned to this very day. There were many such tragedies during the 30 years of armed struggle. The legacy of that 30-year war is still with us today. People today might, with justification, ask: “What was it all for?, What did we actually gain?. What was achieved, that justifies the loss of Seamus, Tony or the thousands of others who died during that 30 year period?   

To all the families who are still suffering today, was it worth it? To live in a society that has such poverty, unemployed, and marginalisation. To have such epidemic proportions of those suffering from mental illness, and such a lack of proper medical facilities and provision.

2a

 

After 50 years of struggle on from the Civil Rights Movement, What have we anything to show for it? It is a sad indictment of all of us who participated in this struggle. A ‘Peace Process’ that is anything but peaceful, as it seems to do more increases sectarianism than to address it. People vote along factional tribal lines rather than for any real policies. The Political Institutions lurch from one crisis to the next, using the latest crisis to cover up the mistakes of the last and no one is ever held to account.

We are certainly not against peace, but we are against a peace that creates division, that pits people against one and other. The we want a peace that brings proper and lasting change to ordinary people’s lives. That brings about real, proper, practical and lasting change, that people can stand up and say they’re proud to be living in a proper democracy; Our democracy, a democracy that upholds ordinary people rights and gives them a say in how we live and organise our lives, that empowers.

3aThe day of handing over your vote and your taxes unquestionably to an unaccountable institution has to come to an end. That you only hear from you elected representatives at voting time and never seeing or hearing from them until they need your vote again, must also come to an end. The time is up for this outdated system of a so called democracy that is designed to keep the powerful and wealthy in control. To hell with your reforms, we do not want our chains lengthened we want them smashed completely and smelted down never to be used on us again. No accountability equals corruption and zero democracy.