Sabato 13 ottobre il tributo a Joe O’Connor, volontario ucciso a soli 26 anni da 5 colpi di pistola alla testa mentre lasciava l’abitazione materna a Ballymurphy. Nel corso della cerimonia commemorativa, è stata svelata una nuova lapide posta al fianco della tomba
Circa un centinaio i repubblicani ad aver tributato onore alla memoria di Joe O’Connor. La nuova lapide svelata da Danny McBrearty (ex POW e membro fondatore del Republican Network for Unity) sostituisce quella vergognosamente distrutta da malviventi locali.
Il discorso pronunciato da Carl Reilly
‘It is a great honour to be asked to speak here today at the unveiling of this beautiful new headstone dedicated to my friend and comrade Oglach Joe O’Connor. I first met Joe approximately 22 years ago, I grew up in the Andersonstown area and Joe’s family had recently purchased the local shop known too many still to this day as “Boyles shop” on Tullymore Gardens.
Just as we were getting used to the new owners, a young Joe aprox 15/16 years old found himself in a scenario that would help engrain his family with the local Andytown people and at the same time show a glimpse of his character. At the time of the shop changeover it happened to coincide with a changeover of a British army regiment that was just beginning to get its bearings in the area. An RUC man who was accompanying the Brit army foot patrol thought it would be funny to carry out a practical joke on one of the young squaddies who was aged no more than 18 years old. The RUC man told the English lad that “Boyles shop” was one of the few shops that defied the rule of fear from the “provies” and would still serve British soldiers and RUC personnel.
The unwitting young lad walked into the shop where Joe was serving behind the counter and in a broad London accent asked Joe for a few tins of coke and marathon bars for his mates outside. Joe looked out the shop window and saw myself and a few friends looking inside with amazement, wondering would the new owner serve the young solider-boy or not. Joe told him to “get the fuck out of this shop now and don’t ever come back in”, The shocked Brit now watching us and the rest of his patrol laughing at him, stupiditly asked Joe to come outside fair a “straightener ”. Jo-Jo never one to back down from anyone jumped the counter and said “outside then, let’s go, your mates wont jump on?” We sheepishly chirped in saying we would back Joe up if they did, (not really wanting to in reality, for fear of another bit of harassment or brutality from the Brits).
The solider looked at the RUC man who said “it’s up to you kid”. The young Brit removed his helmet and passed his rifle to another solider. Forty-five seconds later Joe was getting trailed of the hammered Brit with blood pumping out of his nose and lip, shouting to his mates “ get this crazy Irish Bastard off me” Joe walked back into his shop and started stocking the shelves, We went home thinking, that lad Joe is class!
A number of years later, I again met Joe as we were both members of the 32csm at that time. It was good to have him around as he had a youthful confidence that was inspiring. We worked together on a number of projects and also helped raised much needed money for republican prisoners in Portlaoise prison. Joe was an eager lad, always willing to help or take his burden at a time when burdens were plentiful. We existed at a time in Belfast, when few would have; Joe took a leading role in that. He could have shirked or hid away, he didn’t!
Joe wasn’t Dan Breen, nor did he sell himself as. He was a young man with a family who made mistakes like everyone else. He like us all fitted the mould of the maxim “the man who never made a mistake, never done a thing”. Whatever flaws he may have had, they were more than outweighed by his kindness, support and comradeship and the love he showed to those he held close, especially his family.
After a period of time my republican activities found me arrested and sent into Maghaberry Prison. Joe continued outside to sell newspapers, raise PDF and educate himself in republican politics. Joe worked to build a movement in a city that didn’t allow for another movement to exist. On the 13th October 2000 Joe was executed outside his mother’s home in Whitecliff Parade. Joe was killed by an organisation that didn’t allow diversity of opinions, that didn’t want its own membership drifting to other groups at a difficult time in republican politics. Ironically Joe was killed to keep the cloak and dagger “peace process” alive.
The family of Joe don’t expect nor wish for prosecutions in relation to his murder. What they do expect and deserve is an acceptance of responsibility and an apology from the leadership of the PIRA for the disgraceful and anti-republican act that was carried out in those streets beside us twelve years ago today.
In May of this year anti-community, drink and drug fuelled rats committed a disgraceful action by anyone’s standards, by smashing the headstone that once stood here. One can only guess what type of person would lower themselves to such depravity.
The family of Joe were angry and his friends were angry at that act. It was a Rubicon for them. The fundraising began to replace the headstone. Can I personally thank everyone who donated money towards a replacement, no matter how large or small; your actions have shown that we will not allow state run agents to erode the very memory of fallen republicans.
This new headstone today will once again be a place of solace to his family and friends and comrades, a place of quiet reflection for those he loved and who loved him. Let me be very clear republicans will not allow anyone to desecrate the graves of the republican fallen and I would urge caution to anyone stupid enough to attempt to repeat a similar act ever again. Keep in mind that republicans have long memories!
It was an honour to have played my role in helping out in any way I could the restoration of this headstone, to his mother, brothers and sisters may I offer our continued sympathy and support.
Today I remembered Joe, the same as I did yesterday and the same as I will do tomorrow, he was owed no less by me!
Go raibh maith agaibh!’
Statement dei Pows detenuti nell’ala E3 di Portlaoise Goal
We want to take this opportunity to send greetings to all Republicans gathered here to unveil the new headstone for Volunteer Joe O’Connor. The criminals who continue to attack Joe’s memory in death se
rve the same agenda as those who murdered him 12 years ago. They seek to attack Republicans as a whole and to try to undermine what he stood for. They serve the interests of the British government and their proxies in the Provisional movement. That they are tolerated and encouraged in this agenda should speak volumes to anyone unconvinced that ther has been any substantive change in the six counties.
Joe O’Connor died as a proud IRA Volunteer, cut down by cowards on the streets Belfast. Joe represented an undiluted and uncompromising Republican tradition. He could not be bought or broken, he could not be accommodated to a settlement which could not deliver the goals for which publicans had given their lives. By refusing to allow himself to be compromised through sell out, he highlighted the inadequacies and duplicity of those who did.
Joe was a reminder to them of how far they had wandered from the true path of Republicanism. He was an example to all those who felt there was an alternative to the betrayal of principles cheer leaded by the Provisional’s.
Republicanism has come under attack throughout its existence as a political ideology on this island. It offers a template for a better and more equitable society. Men such as Joe O’Connor have stood in defiance of Imperialism, criminality and apathy to promote its principles. All Republicans can take heart from the example that they have left us and stand together in defence of a shared set of principles. Remember Joe O’Connor and fight on for the ideals for which he died.
Tiocfaidh ar la