Funeral held for PIRA founder Billy McKee in Belfast

The funeral of veteran Republican Billy McKee was held at St Peter’s Cathedral on Saturday morning June 15, 2019. Mr McKee died on Tuesday aged 97.

The funeral of Billy McKee, one of the founding members of the Provisional IRA, has taken place in Belfast.

Thousands lined the streets of west Belfast as republicans from across Ireland descended on the city for the service at St Peter’s Cathedral.

Draped in a flag Mr McKee’s coffin was carried from the church in a gun carriage, with men wearing the military-style black berets associated with the IRA part of the procession.

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The veteran republican who opposed the peace process died “unrepentant”, mourners were told.

A eulogy was read at a memorial garden on the Falls Road, a short distance from the church.

A mourner said: “Billy remained steadfast to the end and had no regrets, despite all the hardship that he endured for his republicanism.

“For him it was not for a new Ireland or an agreed Ireland, it was for a 32-county independent republic that was declared at the front of the General Post Office in 1916.”

He was a former “Officer Commanding” of the IRA and involved with D Company of the organisation, the spokesman added.

Billy McKee passed away at his Belfast home on Tuesday

Mr McKee was also a devout Catholic who went to Mass every day, and whose deafness meant his prayers were audible to other worshippers.

The address said: “We will remember you with pride.

“You were one in a million and a true republican to the end – unbowed, unbroken, and most of all – unrepentant.”

Mr McKee passed away at his Belfast home on Tuesday at the age of 97.

The lifelong republican first joined the IRA in the 1930s and was imprisoned for IRA activity numerous times over the years.

When the Troubles broke out in the late 1960s he became the OC (Officer Commanding) of the IRA’s Belfast Brigade.

He was involved in a gun battle at St Matthew’s Church in the Short Strand during which two Protestants were killed alongside a Catholic civilian. Mr McKee was shot five times during the fighting but survived.

While imprisoned in Crumlin Road in the early 1970s, the veteran republican led a hunger strike in a bid to win political status for paramilitary prisoners.

Mr McKee was forced out of the IRA in 1977 and spent his remaining years as a fierce critic of Sinn Fein’s move towards peace.

His bural took place at Milltown Cemetery.

With many thanks to the: Belfast Telegraph for the original story

Republican guard of honour for Provo founder’s coffin

Republicans formed a guard of honour for Provisional IRA founder Billy McKee as his remains were removed to St Peter’s Cathedral in west Belfast last night.

The 97-year-old’s tricolour-draped coffin was carried the short distance from a relative’s home to the church before 6pm.

The veteran republican died in the early hours of Tuesday at a west Belfast nursing home after a short illness.

During the procession eight men wearing black jackets bearing the logo ‘D Coy’ – believed to be a reference to ‘D Company Ex Prisoners’ Association’ – flanked his coffin.

The group holds an annual Easter commemoration in west Belfast and maintains the republican garden of remembrance on the Falls Road, which remembers former members of the IRA’s ‘D Company’ based in the area.

On arrival at St Peter’s, the flag was removed and folded before the coffin was shouldered into the church by members of the guard of honour.

A short service was then held before mourners dispersed.

Dozens of black flags were put up in the Falls Road area ahead of Mr McKee’s Requiem Mass and burial today.

It is expected that his funeral will be one of the largest seen in the west of the city in recent years.

After Mass his remains are expected to be taken along the Falls Road to the garden of remembrance where a short ceremony will be held.

The cortege will then move to Milltown Cemetery where a graveside oration will be delivered.

Mr McKee is then expected to be laid to rest in his family’s burial plot.

Police Land Rovers fitted with CCTV cameras tracked the cortege as it made its way to St Peter’s yesterday, while a helicopter circled overhead.

During Mr McKee’s wake the PSNI also maintained a visible presence in the area.

Mr McKee was a founding member the Provisional IRA and was the organisation’s first ‘officer commanding’ in Belfast and sat on its ‘army council’ before being sidelined in the late 1970s.

Born months after partition in 1921, he had been an active republican since the 1930s.

He joined the IRA’s youth wing, Na Fianna hÉireann, in 1936 at the age of 15 and was imprisoned in every decade between the 1930s and the 1970s.

Until his death this week he is believed to have been oldest surviving internee in Ireland.

With many thanks to the: James Connolly Association Australia for the original posting

3rd June marks the 45th Anniversary of the death of Óglach Michael Gaughan

Michael Gaughan’s death, on Monday 3 June 1974, came as a shock. He died from pneumonia; the force-feeding tube having pierced his lung. He was 24 years of age

Both the hunger-strike deaths of the 1970s took place in prisons in England.

The first, on Monday 3 June 1974, was Michael Gaughan of Ballina, County Mayo, followed almost two years later by another Mayo man, Frank Stagg of Hollymount, on Thursday 12 February 1976.

Michael Gaughan was one of the earliest IRA Volunteers to be imprisoned in England, being sentenced to seven years at the Old Bailey in London, in December 1971, for his part in a bank raid.

He spent the first two years of his prison sentence in Wormwood Scrubs in London and then was moved to the Isle of Wight’s top security prisons: Albany and then, in 1974, to Parkhurst.

November 1973 had also seen the trial in Winchester of the Belfast Ten (Dolours and Marian Price, Hugh Feeney, Gerard Kelly and six others), who had been arrested following bomb explosions in London the previous March. Having received life sentences, the Price sisters, Feeney and Kelly immediately began a hunger strike for repatriation to prison in Ireland.

They were brutally force-fed for a total of 206 days.

Michael Gaughan and Frank Stagg joined this hunger strike on 31 March 1974, first of all in solidarity with the other hunger strikers and also for the right to wear their own clothes and not to do prison work.

On 22 April, 23 days into their hunger strike, Gaughan and Stagg were force-fed for the first time. They immediately escalated their demand to one for repatriation.

During the operation, the prisoners were seated on a chair and held down by the shoulders and chin. A lever was pushed between the teeth to prise open the jaw and a wooden clamp placed in the mouth to keep it open.

A thick greased tube was then put through a hole in the clamp, pushed down the throat and into the stomach. Often the tube would go into the windpipe and have to be withdrawn. During this procedure the victim would be constantly vomiting.

Visitors to Michael Gaughan and Frank Stagg were only allowed to see them through glass screen, supervised by prison warders. In fact, Michael Gaughan’s last visit with his mother, three days before his death, took place in such circumstances.

The death of Michael Gaughan caused major controversy in British medical circles and the use of forced-feeding was later abandoned by the British.

More immediately, the four Belfast hunger strikers were promised repatriation and ended their hunger strike on 7 June. Frank Stagg, having received a similar undertaking, ended his fast ten days later.

From the Isle of Wight to Ballina, Michael Gaughan’s funeral brought thousands on to the streets. On Friday 7 June and Saturday 8 June, thousands of people lined the streets of Kilburn in London and marched behind his coffin, which was flanked by an IRA guard of honour.

On Saturday, his remains were met by thousands more in Dublin and, flanked by IRA Volunteers again, were brought to the Franciscan Church on Merchant’s Quay.

On Sunday morning, the cortege began the long journey to Ballina, stopping in almost every town and village en route as the people turned out to pay their last respects.

In Ballina, there was a Requiem Mass in the Cathedral. As the coffin was borne outside, a volley of shots was fired over it, before it was taken to Leigue cemetery, to be buried with full honours in the republican plot.

With many thanks to: Richard Gaughan for the original posting

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Sister of IRA man murdered by the SAS in Loughgall hits out at banner

THE sister of an IRA hero who was shot dead by the SAS in Loughgall has called on the British Ministry of Defense (MoD) to distance themselves from a banner put up in the village.


Mairead Kelly claims the banner mocks the murder of her brother Patrick (Paddy) Kelly who was one of eight IRA heroes known as: The Loughgall Martyres murdered during an attack on Loughgall’s RUC station 32 years ago on May 8th 1987. Civilian Anthony Hughes was also murdered when he and his brother unwittingly drove into the ambush zone. The banner, which reads “Loughgall supports our troops”, and carries the logos of the SAS and Parachute Regiment (pictured above).

Óglach Patrick Kelly – OC East Tyrone Brigade

Similar banners have been arrected across the North of Ireland in predominantly loyalist areas after it emerged that a former British Soldier, known as ‘Soldier F’, is to face prosecution for the murder of two men on Bloody Sunday in 1971. Ms Kelly said military chiefs should distance themselves from the display.

The Loughgall Martyrs

“I think if a different flag went up somewhere else there would be a loud outcry,” she said. “I think it’s insensitive particularly because the SAS murdered nine people in that area. “It shows a total disregard for the sensitivities of the families. “I don’t think anybody should mock or take delight in killing of anyone.” Ms Kelly said: “These symbols on this banner are MoD symbols”. “The MoD has to distance themselves publicly or take responsibility and have the banner removed,” she said.

With many thanks to the: Tyrone Courier and Mairead Kelly for the original story


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A True Irish ‘Freedom Fighter’ remembered and a true Irish Republican Socialist who give the ultimate sacrifice for Irish freedom ‘HIS LIFE’

These Pics were taken by the Orderly in the Canteen of the Prison Hospital around May 14th 1981. They were published a few days later in the Irish Press. The Screws raided his cell and roughed him up so bad that within an hour he drifted into a coma. A small tape recorder was found under Raymond’s Pillow, Patsy had recorded a message and gave it to Ray to record his – But Raymond was too far gone at that stage.
After Patsy dies his body was brutalised, nose broke and face burnt with cigarettes.

Fuair sé bás ar son saoirse na hÉireann – Ádh mór oraiibh

With many thanks to: Antoin O’Hara (Patsy’s brother), and Josephine Canning for the original posting.

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On this day…On 14th May 1978, over 1,000 people joined the Drumm family family for the unveiling of this Celtic cross at Máire Drumm’s gravesite in Milltown Cemetery, Belfast.

(Máire was assassinated by loyalist thugs while she was in Mater Hospital on 28 October 1976)

With many thanks to: Ireland’s Own and Gréine Ni Dhochartaigh for the original posting.

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