POLICE are investigating after an image was posted online showing a masked man apparently firing shots in tribute to a Socialist Republican in west Belfast.
Photographs posted on Facebook by the Irish Republican Socialist Party (IRSP) – the politicial wing of the Irish National Liberation Party (INLA) – show masked men posing on a street with a picture of Harry O’Hara. Mr O’Hara, from Norglen Drive in the Turf Lodge area, died on February 28th and was buried in the City Cemetery earlier this month following Requiem Mass at Holy Trinity Church. Among death notices expressing sympathy at Mr O’Hara’s passing was one from “Connor Hughes, Cogús Republican Prisoners” in Maghaberry Jail.
The IRSP’s Belfast branch posted photos on Facebook of a “final salute to comrade Harry O’Hara”. It said “Harry was a loyal republican socialist and he will always be remembered with honour and pride by the Republican Socialist Movement” (RSM). The images show masked men dressed in paramilitay-style uniform posing beside candles and a photo of Mr O’Hara (copy of picture above). In one, a member of the group raises a gun above his head in a firing motion.
The images have been condemned by SDLP councillor Tim Attwood, who represents the area on Belfast City Council. “These are scenes which belong in the past. There is no excuse for masked gunmen on the streets of our city, no matter what the context,” he said. “This was a reckless act and should be roundly condemned.” A RUC/PSNI spokeswoman said: “Police are aware of footage on social media showing shots apparently being fired by a masked man in west Belfast. An investigation is under way.”
With many thanks to: John Monaghan, The Irish News, for the origional story.
Gino Gallagher was callously murdered by a hired assassin over 15 years ago on January 30th, 1996. Born Gino Majella Gallagher in 1963 to Irish Republican parents, his mother Theresa was a member of the first Ard-Chomhairle of the Irish Republican Socialist Party (IRSP) and his father, Patrick, had been on hunger and thirst strike in a Dutch prison protesting against extradition to Britain in the 1970’s.
Contemporary IRSP activists and especially younger Irish Republican Socialists, who may not have known him owe much to Gino Gallagher, not least being that he is credited with refurbishing Costello House, the IRSPs national headquarters on Belfast’s Falls Road. At his insistence, Costello House was transformed from being a run-down, semi-derelict building into something resembling the working party offices that exist there today. Gino Gallagher, in his then role as IRSP POW spokesperson was responsible for obtaining the re-patriation of INLA prisoners from English gaols. He also was instrumental in forcing the NIO to agree to negotiating rights for the Irish Republican Socialist Party in relation to the INLA prisoners in Long Kesh.
Politician and Soldier, Soldier and Politician
Although a feared military operator, who at the time of his death was Chief of Staff of the Irish National Liberation Army (INLA) he was also a highly politicized Republican Socialist activist who embodied Ta Power’s doctrine of ‘every soldier a politician, every politician a soldier’. Gino Gallagher was instrumental in promoting the central tenets of Ta Power’s analysis and vision for the Republican Socialist Movement which stressed the primacy of politics. Gino Gallagher described Ta Power as, ‘the biggest influence in my life’ . Tragically, both men were to meet similar cruel ends, cut down by the Judas bullets of counter-revolutionaries.
Gino Gallagher was made INLA Chief of Staff following the arrest and subsequent expulsion of Hugh Torney and his associates when they declared an unauthorised INLA ceasefire from the dock of a Dublin courtroom in 1995, in return for a successful bail application after their arrest in Ballbriggan. By all accounts, Torney had been an a one-dimensional militarist, at best, and his tenure as INLA Chief of Staff was marked by his concerted attempts at running down the political wing, the IRSP. Torney would have resented Gino Gallagher’s reversal of the IRSP’s political fortunes and his drive to make the party the significant player it had once been.
Feared In Life and Death
Gino Gallagher was cruelly shot dead as he waited to sign-on at the Falls Road offices of the Social Security Agency, on the anniversary of Bloody Sunday, 1996. The assassin who the Torney cabal hired to murder one of the IRSM’s most able leaders was Kevin McAlorum, the career criminal son of an infamous North Belfast drugs dealer. Both Torney and McAlorum met violent ends, the former only 8 months later on 3 September 1996 and the hired assassin 8 years later on June 4th, 2004, by grim irony only the day after Gino Gallagher’s father’s funeral.
Even in death the forces of reaction feared and hated Gino Gallagher, heavily armed RUC and British army stormtroopers invaded the family home, disrupted the funeral procession and beat mourners. Gino Gallagher was buried in Milltown cemetery on 2 February, 1996, with the funeral oration delivered by IRSP Ard Chomhairle member, Michael McCormick, who paid tribute to his political activism and revolutionary zeal. The oration praised Gino Gallagher’s promotion of ‘open democratic discussion’ , his struggle against ‘elitist, militaristic and non-political attitudes in the movement’ and how he, through determined activism ‘along with others, revitalised the Republican Socialist Movement.’ Gino Gallagher’s funeral oration ended with the sentence:
“Finally, as we lay this Volunteer and Comrade ino the soft green soil
of his native land, remember him each time you gaze into the stars
and see there etched across the sky, the Plough and the Stars!”
Today, his cowardly killer and those who hired him have been dispatched to the dustbin of history but Gino Gallagher’s image is immortalised in murals and commemorative plaques in his native west Belfast. Though times have changed greatly since 1996, Gino Gallagher’s legacy lives on in a revitalised IRSP that has fully endorsed the primacy of politics and continues to represent the interests of working-class people.
THE murder of two INLA men in Co Louth more than 30 years ago has featured in an RTÉ reconstruction broadcast.
Thomas ‘Ta’ Power (33) and then INLA ‘chief of staff’ John GerardO’Reilly (26) were gunned down as they sat in the Rossnaree Hotel, near Drogheda, in January 1987 by members of the Irish People’s Liberation Organisation (IPLO). The INLA men had been in the hotel to try and settle an internal dispute about the direction of the group and were due to meet other members. However, the potential peace summit ended up in bloodshed when gunmen wearing false beards burst into the hotel and opened fire as their victims drank tea.
Two other men were injured during the ambush including Peter Stewart and Hugh ‘cueball’ Torney, who was himself killed in another feud in 1996. Leading IPLO man Gerard Steenson has been linked to the double killing, although others claim he was not involved.
He and another man were shot dead weeks later in March 1987 by the INLA faction in west Belfast. It is understood that the renewed appeal for information comes after relatives of Power, who was from the Markets area of south Belfast, met gardaí recently.
Campaign group Relatives for Justice recently wrote to the Republic’s Justice Minister Frances Fitzgerald and Garda commisioner Nóirín O’Sullivan on behalf of the Power family asking for a review of the case. It is beleived that at that meeting family members learned for the first time that three men were questioned after the ambush but later released. No-one has ever been convicted. Gardaí failed to respond to a series of questions put to them by The Irish News about the case.
A reconstruction of the attack was featured on RTÉ’s Crime Call programme on Monday. The broadcaster declined to release any details of the programme in advance. Mike Ritchie from Relatives for Justice said: “Families who have lost loved ones below the border face a difficult situation because they were not able to benefit from the Historical Enquires Team information and review,” he said. “It’s important that the Garda reviews these cases themselves.”
Volunteer – Irish National Liberation Army
Assassinated on 21 March 1987
Emmanuel Gargan, age 25, was killed in a South Belfast pub by an Irish People’s Liberation Organisation gunman in retaliation for the INLA’s execution of IPLO leader Gerard Steenson on March 15th. Gargan had survived two earlier attempts on his life by the IPLO, and was still on crutches from the second attempt when he was killed.
Kevin Barry Duffy
Volunteer – Irish National Liberation Army
Assassinated on 21 March 1987
Kevin Barry Duffy, age 20, was killed in Armagh City by the Irish People’s Liberation Organisation in retaliation for the INLA’s execution of IPLO leader Gerard Steenson on March 15th.
The IPLO was a counter-revolutionary group formed by individuals who had resigned or been purged from the IRSM, who then came together to attempt to destroy the IRSM.
Gargan and Duffy were both involved in the INLA’s efforts to defend itself and the Irish Republican Socialist Party from the IPLO’s attacks.
They died as they lived: as Republican Socialists. Remember them with honour and pride.
Murdered after completing a game of Gaelic football.
Hugh was a keen footballer who played regularly, as such he was shot by his own….IPLO traitors….he was young and naive I feel and taken in by the IPLO. A son and da beloved to many and still grieved by mam and sister.
Only twenty one years old when he died. A young life needlessly cut short. His infectious laugh and youthful enthusiasm will be sadly missed, may he rest in peace. This traitorous act destroyed many in this young man’s life.
I do not honour the IPLO but I do this memorial out of respect for an old friend I lost touch with. I hope somehow he gets the message…..friends should be friends FOREVER and there should be no DEADLY DIVISIONS anymore.
Rest on heavens softest pillow Óglach Hugh McKibben of the tragic IPLO.
With many thanks to: Chaírde ar an Arm Náisiúnta Fuascailte na hÉireann.