Monday, November 30, 2020

This weeks Blog deals with 'Economic Self-government; Covid-19 and the Conspiracy business; and The Speaker, King Billy , the Pope and the painting

 Economic Self-government is the future.

Last Friday, as this column noted, Sinn Féin published a new discussion paper – The Economic Benefits of a United Ireland. 

At the heart of the paper is a belief in economic self-government. The right and the ability of the people of Ireland to plan, manage, and develop our island economy in our best interests. It makes sense. Whatever differences may exist between the political parties on this island it is clear that they would prioritise economic policy in the interests of those they represent.

On the other hand British government’s rule in British interests and take political and economic decisions that suit their objectives and not those of the people of the North and of this island.

 The ‘Economic Benefits of a United Ireland’ confronts the first question usually posed by those who are opposed to Irish Unity or those who are uncertain of that goal; ‘can we afford a  United Ireland?’

The answer is yes. As Pearse Doherty TD remarked at the launch; “The health of an economy, the standard of living of its citizens; is driven by investment, research, innovation, good public services and access to the global economy. On all of these, not only is the Union stuttering, it is moving backwards...

The North deserves better, and a United Ireland offers so much more. Irish unity would allow for coordinated investment and development; something the Border region has been missing for a century. Irish unity would utilise economies of scale; allowing one economy to develop rather than having two economies compete. The current trajectory of the all-island economy attests to these opportunities”.       

The reality is that the Northern Executive doesn’t have access to any significant financial levers except rates.  90% of the Executive’s budget is directly controlled by London. The Assembly cannot devise long term fiscal policy or plan for the longer term. This is dictated by the British Government.

But what of the so called British subventions? British  official stats put the subvention at around £10 billion per annum. In reality, the true value is somewhere between £2.5 and £6 billion. The economic payoff from uniting the two economies on the island would more than compensate for the loss of the subvention. Economists such as Kurt Hubner and David McWilliams agree.

As Pearse Doherty attests “Reducing the argument to the subvention is an own goal, the subvention only exists because the economy in the north is so underdeveloped, the subvention is a measure of the failure of BG financial policy in the north.”

With almost seven million people and a larger economy, Irish Unity will create better jobs, increase incomes, improve our quality of life and deliver better public services. The discussion paper considers the advantages of Unity for the promotion of the Green Economy; the precedent of German re-unification; and the role the EU can play in successfully reuniting Ireland.

If you want to find out more go to : Be part of the discussion.


Covid 19 and the conspiracy business

There is hope on the horizon that a vaccine may soon be available for the Covid-19 virus. This is a very welcome development but until it is available and distributed it is vitally important that citizens stick to the consistent advice that the health authorities have been giving since the start of the year.

Wear a mask; socially distance; wash your hands; and use a hand sanitiser.

The changing conditions have meant that the regulations, restrictions and lockdown processes are constantly changing. This has led to confusion, annoyance and anger. In our own place this has been added to by the refusal of some DUP ministers to play a consistent and constructive role alongside their colleagues on the Executive.

The reality is that the Coronavirus is an unparalleled event in our lives. At the time of writing almost one and a half million have died across the world. In the North almost a thousand people will have died by the end of this week and in the South over two thousand have died. Thousands more have been hospitalised or been taken ill with this virus. 

This Friday the North begins a two week lockdown. The restrictions will create hardship. But if lives are to be saved then it is necessary for us to follow the health advice.

One deeply worrying feature of recent months has been the growth in conspiracy theories around Covid-a9. Some say that Covid doesn’t exist; that wearing a mask is dangerous; that the Coronavirus is part of some grand plan by a cabal of leading states and politicians to control the world economy and limit peoples’ rights; and/or is a plot by big pharma to make money. In addition Covid deniers claim that the number of people dying from Coronavirus is being deliberately exaggerated by governments. And there is the claim that the extension of 5G technology is to blame for the spread of the disease. 

Lies; misrepresentation of facts; and right wing fantasy propaganda have become part of the daily diet of millions on social media.

One dangerous consequence of this is that increasing numbers of people are not just saying they will refuse to take a vaccine to immunise against Covid when it becomes available but are questioning the efficacy of vaccines in their entirety. A survey of 26,000 people in 25 countries last month by the YouGov-Cambridge Globalism Project in collaboration with the London Guardian found “widespread and concerning scepticism about vaccine safety.”

It reported that 20% of respondents across 19 countries gave some credibility to the view that “the truth about the harmful effects of vaccines is being deliberately hidden from the public”, including 57% of South Africans, 48% of Turks, 38% of French people, 33% of Americans, 31% of Germans and 26% of Swedes.

According to the World Health Organisation; Vaccines have been one of the biggest success stories of modern medicine. WHO estimates that at least 10 million deaths were prevented between 2010 and 2015 thanks to vaccinations delivered around the world. Many millions more lives were protected from the suffering and disability associated with diseases such as pneumonia, diarrhea, whooping cough, measles, and polio.”

So, in these dangerous times ignore  the naysayers and sceptics, and the conspiracy theorists. Follow the health advice.  

The Speaker, King Billy, the Pope and the painting

Sinn Féin MLA Alex Maskey is the Speaker –An Ceann Chomairle - of the Assembly. In the waiting room of his official office in Parliament Buildings there hangs an unusual painting. When it was bought in 1933 by the Unionist government to adorn the wall of their new Parliament Building it was claimed to be a work by Pieter van derMuelen. He was allegedly a court painter for William of Orange. It is supposed to show a triumphant King William on a white charger landing at Carrickfergus at the start of his successful war with the English King James 11. When it was announced that the painting had been purchased unionist MPs cheered. 

In March 1933 the painting was unveiled in the lobby outside the Members’ Room. The applause which had accompanied the news of its successful purchase quickly turned to horror when it was examined. 

If you look closely at the painting you will see Pope Innocent X1, resting on a cloud above King Billy, giving a papal blessing to the King. Leading William and his entourage is a man on foot – apparently a Franciscan friar – with rosary beads in his hands. Pope Innocent X1 who ordered a Te Deum to be sung when news arrived of Williams victory at the Boyne, was an ally of the Prince of Orange in a war then convulsing much of Europe.

A few months after it was unveiled the painting was damaged by Charles Forrester, a member of the Scottish Protestant League who was affronted by it. It was restored but removed from public view. It was placed in the Speakers Office in 1983 where it remains.

There is some speculation that the painting is not a representation of King William at all or of his landing in Ireland but has to do with his war against the French in the Low Countries in Europe.

It is also claimed that van derMuelen was not a court painter for William. It is said that he was a minor painter, and may not have been responsible for the painting at all. 

Before the Covid restrictions the painting was a popular part of the tour which the Assembly staff provided for those who visited the building. So, when the tours are eventually reinstated post Covid and if you want to see a painting naively bought by the Unionist government in 1933 which does not show King Billy on his White Charger landing at Carrickfergus but has a more interesting story to tell, why not visit Parliament Buildings for a wee juke.

The painting on the Wall in the Speaker's office




Monday, November 23, 2020

This weeks blog examines the Economic Benefits of a United Ireland; Remembers Danny Groves; and Decision awaited in Pat Finucane case


Economic Benefits of a United Ireland

In four weeks (23 December) we will mark 100 years since the Government of Ireland Act, which partitioned Ireland, was signed into law by an English King. Six years earlier James Connolly, writing in the Irish Worker in March 1914, warned that partition “would mean a carnival of reaction both North and South, would set back the wheels of progress, would destroy the oncoming unity of the Irish labour movement and paralyse all advanced movements whilst it endured. To it Labour should give the bitterest opposition ...”

The northern state that emerged following partition delivered all that Connolly feared. Political Unionism and its business class built an apartheid ‘Orange’ state on sectarian divisions. They turned worker against worker and introduced a system of structured political and economic discrimination which continues to impact on northern society today.

Partition also inflicted great hurt on the southern economy. Places like Sligo and Monaghan and Derry, Dundalk and Newry were separated from their natural economic hinterland by an artificial border. Along the 300 miles of border farmers were cut off from their land; neighbours from neighbours; families from their relatives, and businesses from their customers.

Two conservative states, with two conservative elites, were established that took economic decisions that left the border region impoverished and a section of citizens in the North as second class citizens. We have had 100 years of disjointed and competing economic and social development on this small island.

In recent years, most notably since the Brexit vote of 2016, there has been a growing debate on the merits of Irish Unity. Much of that has focused on the issue of the economy.

This week Sinn Fein is publishing a new paper: the ‘Economic Benefits of a United Ireland’ which examines the failure of partition and sets out the economic benefits that will accrue from a single island economy in a United Ireland.  

The paper reveals that the North is the slowest growing economy on these islands. The labour market is characterised by jobs that are lower paid and less secure than in the Irish state or in Britain. Some 20% of workers earn less than a basic living wage. In addition the wasteful competition and division rising from partition undermines the fortunes of both sides of the border region. The result is an incoherent and unfulfilled economic development.

The ‘Economic Benefits of a United Ireland’ also refutes the claim that the Irish state cannot afford Irish Unity or cope with the loss of the British subvention. The claim that the subvention is worth £10bn a year is false. The real figure is at most £6bn and closer to less than half that.

The threat posed by Brexit and Covid-19 have also created new challenges and new opportunities. A United Ireland offers the best opportunity to tackle these issues in a way that is to the economic advantage of the people of the island of Ireland.

The ‘Economic Benefits of a United Ireland’ is an exciting contribution to the conversation about a new Ireland – a shared Ireland. It reveals an island economy capable of expanding its economic potential, creating new jobs, better paid jobs, building a better standard of living of all its citizens and first class public services, including a health service for everyone.

We should have the right to organise our own economy. We will certainly do that much better than anyone in London.


Danny and Jim O'Carroll

The death of Danny Groves

It is the nature of things that this column has been moved to record the deaths of friends more often than I would like to but it is with the greatest sadness that I extend my condolences to the family of Danny Groves who died last Sunday. Danny died after a long battle with cancer. I want to express my sympathies to his wife Liz, and to his children Roisin, Bill, Jim, Eilis, Danny, Emma and Deirdre and to his many grandchildren, great grandchildren and extended family circle.

I have known Danny and Liz for more years than I care to remember. The Groves family is one of those spinal republican families that have been involved in republican activism from the time of partition.

Danny was a member of the Tom Williams Pipe Band in the 1960s and participated in countless commemorations, Easter Parades and fund raisers for Sinn Féin and the National Graves Association. Joe Cahill was the President of the Band. Danny marched for civil rights in 1968/69 and in the pogroms of 1969 he was one of those who helped evacuate families out of Ardoyne into the west of the City.

Both Danny and Liz are from North Belfast. They moved to a flat in Lenadoon after they were married in July 1970 and then in 1972 moved again to Tullymore Gardens in upper Andersonstown. They lived three doors up from Danny’s mother, the indomitable Emma Groves. In December 1971 Emma, who was the mother of 11 children, was blinded by a British soldier who fired a rubber bullet at her through the window of her home. It was a devastating injury. Emma refused to allow her injury and disability to define her. Along with Clara Reilly she formed the United Campaign Against Plastic Bullets and with the support of Danny and her large family she campaigned tirelessly against the use of rubber and plastic bullets.

From those early years in the 1970s Danny and Liz have been part of the backbone of the Sinn Fein organisation in the Upper Andersonstown area. Despite having a large family there was always a ready welcome in their home for republican activists. Frequent house raids, harassment, constant arrests and threats by the British Army and RUC were a regular feature of Danny’s life at that time. He and Liz refused to be intimidated.

No job was too big or too small for Danny, especially during elections. You needed someone brought to a polling station his car was available. You needed someone to deliver leaflets or stand outside a polling station in the freezing cold and rain? Danny was your man.

Liz is one of the best known community workers in Belfast. She has been a key advice centre worker for Sinn Féin in Connolly House for many years and despite the Covid-19 pandemic Liz continues to work and use her experience on behalf of constituents.

During his illness Danny retained his strong sense of humour and although confined to his bed kept abreast of political developments locally as well as internationally. Danny was also more than willing to help where possible. Recently, Richard McAuley who is involved in doing some background research for a Léargas book I am writing on Kathleen Largey/Thompson, contacted Liz and asked if he could talk to her and Danny about Kathleen. Both knew Kathleen and Eamonn Largey. While maintaining social distance Richard visited Danny and Liz. Danny’s memory was undiminished by the years or his illness. He and Liz were very helpful. Lots of craic about An Ard Scoil, the 43 Club and the old Felons at Milltown.

Danny will be missed. By Liz and his children and the Groves family. But also by his neighbours and many friends whose lives he touched and enriched over the years. Ar dheis Dé go raibh a anam dílis


Awaiting a Decision in Pat Finucane Case

The courage and tenacity of the Finucane family after years of battling with the British state continues to amaze and inspire. Pat Finucane was killed in February 1989 by a UDA death squad working in collusion with RUC Special Branch, the British Army’s Force Reconnaissance Unit and the British state,. For three decades the family, like many hundreds of others, have been fighting to get to the truth. Successive British governments have blustered and bluffed, stalled and lied in order to prevent this.

Last month a lawyer acting for the British Secretary of State for the North Brandon Lewis gave the High Court in Belfast a commitment from him that a decision would be taken on whether to proceed with a public inquiry on or before the 30 November. That’s next week.

Geraldine Finucane brought a judicial review against the British Secretary of State for his failure to implement last year’s Supreme Court ruling which criticised the British government’s failure to take a decision on establishing an investigation. On 11 October the barrister acting for Brandon Lewis told the court that he had been instructed to offer a commitment that a decision would be taken on or before 30 November.

The Judge adjourned the case until December. We now await the decision of the British Secretary of State.

Regrettably, the years of prevarication and disinformation around Pat’s case is part of a wider conspiracy by the British state to refuse to hold its security and intelligence agencies t account for their actions during the conflict. The decision by the PPS in relation to the Operation Kenova Case and the refusal to implement the Stormont House Agreement reached in 2014 are all evidence of this.

The decision by Brandon Lewis in respect of Pat Finucane will indicate whether it’s business as usual for this British government or if it is finally prepared to face up to its legal and international human rights obligations.

Monday, November 16, 2020

Make Voting Easier; Polls telling a vital story and Do you have an old An Phoblacht

Make Voting Easier

Joe Biden is now the President Elect of the USA. Kamala Harris – the first woman to hold thís post will be the new Vice President.

There is always huge interest in Ireland about US Presidential elections. The well known family connection between Joe Biden and Ireland has reinforced this interest. Kamala  Harris also has Irish roots as well as Tamil Indian and Jamaican family connections. Her mother is from India, her father  from Jamaica.  By coincidence both the President Elect and the Vice President Elect share  the same family name. Joe Biden is the great grandson of Owen Finnegan from the Cooley peninsula in County Louth. Kamala Harris’ Jamaican great grandmother’s first husband was Patrick A Finegan, the mixed race son of an Irishman of the same name.

Their story is the story of Ireland’s diaspora and our global connections. Their family history must be a fascinating tale. The next phase of it will be even more interesting. There will be high expectations of the incoming Vice President not least among women and black American women in particular.

Both Joe Biden and Kamala Harris  have huge challenges before them and I wish them well. I  know President Biden. The Irish and British establishments will be watching him closely. Im sure British representatives will soon be winging their way to DC. But Im also sure that Irelands friends in the Capitol will be wise to that and I’m confident they and Joe Biden will stand over their commitment to defend the Good Friday Agreement.

One aspect of the US election campaign that we in Ireland should scrutinise more closely is the effort put in by most states and electoral bodies to make voting in the election as easy as possible.

Over 100 million citizens voted by mail or in person in early voting. Millions stood in long lines for hours in the weeks leading up to election day on 3 November. The demand was so great that drive through voting booths were established in some areas.

In 2016 47 million US citizens voted early. This time that figure was smashed ten days before polling day. The Covid-19 pandemic clearly played a part in persuading people to vote early and by mail but the fact that voting was made easier encouraged more citizens to participate in the democratic system.

Of course, there were efforts to suppress the vote in some states but despite this the American electorate chose to embrace all of the democratic methods available to them to vote in historic numbers.

This is a lesson that the two electoral systems on this island should examine closely. Despite claims in the past of voter fraud there has been no evidence of organised voter fraud over recent decades. What we do know, certainly in the North, is that every year many voters find that for no reason they have been taken off the register.

Elections are about citizens choosing who should have responsibility for managing the political system, making law and taking the economic, health, social and environmental decisions that will impact on their lives and their futures.

If a country as vast as the USA with 250 million voters can facilitate and encourage massive postal voting and in-person voting weeks in advance why can’t we?

If a country as diverse as the USA and with 50 states with different electoral rules and regulations can allow for in-person voting weeks before polling day. Why can’t we?

The island of Ireland has a population that is less than that of the state of Massachusetts. If the USA can make voting easy for its citizens why can’t we?

A voting system that makes voting easy – that encourages citizens to participate - while enforcing rules and regulations to prevent fraud must be a positive to any democratic system. More people voting is good for democracy and good for holding parties and governments to account. It will also be essential for  a fair outcome to the referendum on  Irish unity when  that day comes.


Polls telling a vital story

There is a fixation with political opinion polls. I have a healthy scepticism of such polls. I know from long experience that they rarely reflect the Sinn Féin vote and there have been examples internationally, including last week’s US election, where the final election result was significantly different to that predicted in the polls.

Opinion polls have been around for many decades and use different methodologies. As well as evidencing the shifting political allegiances of voters in the North opinion polls and electoral results have underlined the growing demographic changes that are increasingly evident.

No month passes without some new survey being published. It is then scrutinised and parsed from every conceivable angle by political correspondents, academics, editorial writers and bloggers who seek to read the public mood and identify possible political trends.

Opinion polls have also focused on the related issues of Irish Unity and a referendum on Irish Unity. In May 2019, during the European and local government elections in the South, an opinion poll conducted at polling stations for RTE recorded 65% of respondents saying they would vote yes for a united Ireland if it were held the following day.

This has been a pattern in recent years. A LucidTalk poll two weeks ago reported that 43% of 18-24 year olds in the North would definitely vote to end the union with Britain. The poll claimed that 34% would support remaining. Among those aged between 25-44 LucidTalk said that 42% strongly favour a United Ireland.

The public mood as revealed in polls is also reflected in recent election results which have seen political unionism lose its electoral majority. It’s all a long way from the imposition of the Government of Ireland Act 100 years ago next month. Change is clearly taking place.

Change too is taking place in Scotland where an opinion poll last week for Politico said that independence for Scotland now has a 12 point lead. This is the 11th poll in a row which has claimed that there is majority support for independence.

The Scottish National Party is busy planning for a referendum on independence and is honing its arguments. According to the US based Bloomberg News the British government is also planning to win public support in Scotland for retaining the Union.

So, the Scottish Government is planning for Independence. The British government is planning to challenge the independence campaign. Yet, faced with many of the same challenges and a growing public conversation around a referendum on Irish Unity An Taoiseach Micheál Martin and the Irish government have chosen to prevaricate, obfuscate, distract and do everything possible to avoid planning for a referendum or for a United Ireland. Failing to plan is no plan.


Do you have an old An Phoblacht?

The republican paper An Phoblacht- now a quarterly magazine - needs your help. Thís year it celebrates 50 years of unbroken publication.  As someone who writes regularly about recent republican history An Phoblacht and An Phoblacht/Republican News is a great resource.

However, over the years editions of the paper were lost. That means we no longer have a complete archive. So, we are looking for your help in completing our archive.

We need specific issues of An Phoblacht/Republican News ranging from 1979-2015. If you or somebody you know has an issue of An Phoblacht from this period and want to help us, drop an email to or call Ph: 01 872 6100. We look forward to hearing from you.



Monday, November 9, 2020

My Blog this week is about a Palestinian hunger striker; Gaeilgeoir Breanndán O Beaglaoich and my friend Pat McGivern


A Palestinian internee hungers for justice 

I want to welcome the end of the remarkable 103 day hunger strike by Palestinian Maher al-Akhras. Last week as we remembered the deaths on hunger strike 100 years ago of Terence MacSwiney, Michael Fitzgerald and Joseph Murphy, Maher was in an Israeli hospital on hunger strike protesting against his detention.

There is a close affinity between the people of Ireland and the Palestinian people. Both have a long history of being colonised. We have been the victim of occupation, state violence, discrimination and forced emigration. The experience of struggle has also been similar. 

Maher was arrested on 27 July and spent 103 days on hunger strike. He ended his hunger strike last Friday – 6 November – having received a commitment from the Israeli authorities that his detention would not be extended and that he would not be subject to further administrative detention orders.

It is absolutely remarkable and horrendous that this man survived such a long period on hunger strike.

It is a testimony to his courage and fortitude and determination to highlight a grave injustice by the Israeli authorities.

Maher is a father of six children and is from the village of Silat a-Dhahr in the occupied West Bank. He has not been formally charged with any offence. Like thousands of Palestinians over recent years he is the victim of administrative detention. This procedure is effectively ‘internment without charge’, a practice used by the British state and the Unionist Stormont regime for five years in the early 1970s.

A person arrested under administrative detention is held with a trial. The Israeli state does not have to accuse him/her of having committed an offense. There is no time limit on the length of the time they can imprison someone. In some cases it has lasted years. Currently according to B’tselem, the Israeli Information Centre for Human Rights in the Occupied Territories, 355 Palestinians are being held under administrative detention, two of them are minors. In the last 20 years the Israeli government has enforced over 30,000 administrative detention orders.

The UN Committee against Torture has called on the Israeli government to: “Take the measures necessary to end the practice of administrative detention and ensure that all persons who are currently held in administrative detention are afforded all basic legal safeguards.”

Israel rejected this request by the United Nations.

In 2017 the UN Special Rapporteur expressed his concerns at administrative detention. He said: “Israel’s use of administrative detention is not in compliance with the extremely limited circumstances in which it is allowed under International Humanitarian Law ...”

Once again the Israeli government rejected this request.

In the last two decades 120,000 people have been arrested and imprisoned bythe  Israeli government. 18,000 of these were children. Gaza which is home to two million people is the largest open air prison in the world. When I visited Gaza in 2009 I was appalled by the conditions under which citizens were being forced to live because of the Israeli siege. That situation has deteriorated,if that is possible,in the years since.

The people of Palestine existing in Gaza and in the occupied West Bank are living lives dictated by an Israeli apartheid state that steals their land and their water and destroys their homes.

In June the Irish state won a seat on the UN Security Council for 2021-22. The Irish government campaigned on the themes of “Partnership, Empathy and Independence”. If it is to be true to these themes the Irish government must urgently seek the release of Maher al-Akhras (who is scheduled for release on November 26); demand that the Israeli government end the use of administrative detention, and recognise the state of Palestine.

I would also urge readers to write to Maher who is being held in the Kaplan Medical Centre, Pasternak St. P.O.Box 1, Rehovot 76100, Israel; or email its Public Relations Dept at


An Gaeltacht Abú.

Comhghairdeas to Breanndán O Beaglaoich, renowned traditional musician, Gaeilgeoir and stander upper for people in Gaeltacht areas. He has just won a landmark appeal against Kerry County Council which had refused him permission to build a home on his own land in Baile na bPoc in the West Kerry Gaeltacht.

Breanndán’s fight has been going on for fifteen years. He was facing the threat of imprisonment because of his refusal to remove an ‘unauthorised’  trailer house from his land. He described An Bord Pleanála decision to overturn the Council’s  ruling as a  weight of his heart.

‘I finally have legal status on my own land. This fight has been about the rights of the younger generation  to live in their own townlands....This is only the beginning. Planning laws must be changed if rural communities are to survive. Without people on the land you wont have the language, you wont  have the music,you will lose the essence of what Ireland is’.

As part of his campaign Breanndán erected 235 white crosses to mark the impact of the depopulation on his home place. His victory is a victory for us all. Proof again that one person with tenacity and persistence can make a difference. Maith thú a Bhreanndán.


Pat, Mise agus Marguerite

Remembering Pat McGivern

Pat McGivern was a life-long republican. In recent years she was especially well known for working alongside Marguerite Gallagher in the Green Cross bookshop at 55 Falls Road, now An Fhuiseog. She continued to do this despite many years of constant battling against and being treated for cancer.

I never heard a single word of self-pity from her. Over many decades Pat was a stalwart for the Republican struggle in the Falls/Clonard area. When she lived in Sevastopol Street and later in Devenish Close her home was open day and night to republican activists. She had a generous heart and fed and watered many a weary Republican activist in her day.

As a supporter of Republican prisoners she worked hard in support of the Green Cross. During the various prison protests and through the campaign for political status and later against strip searching in Armagh Women’s Prison, Pat actively campaigned across Ireland in support of the prisoners demands.

An active and energetic member of Falls Sinn Fein Cumann, Pat worked hard in every election campaign from the 1980s until the present day. Her kind-heartedness and caring nature was there in abundance as she cared for over a long period of time for our now departed friend and comrade Paddy Mc Manus.

No part was ever too great or too daunting for Pat. She embodied in every way the spirit of Bobby Sands: “Every Republican or otherwise, has their own part to play. No part is too great or to small, no one is too old or too young to do something.”.

I am proud and honoured to say that Pat was my friend. Ar dheis Dé go raibh a h-anam dílis. To her children, grand children and great grand children and to her wide circle of friends and comrades I want to extend by deepest condolences.