McGuinness: Cahill was 'great name in Irish nationalism'
24/07/2004 - 12:46:48

Veteran republican Joe Cahill will rank alongside some of the greatest names in Irish nationalism, Sinn Féin’s Martin McGuinness claimed today.

The Mid-Ulster MP said Mr Cahill, who died yesterday after a year-long battle with asbestosis, would be regarded in the same light as nationalist icon Robert Emmet, 1916 rebel Padraig Pearse and IRA hunger-striker Bobby Sands.

Mr McGuinness said: “I think the Irish republican Diaspora in Ireland and all over the world will be deeply saddened by the death of someone who they very much saw as a father figure.

“At this time our thoughts go out to his wife Annie and his children who I have visited this morning.

“Like Joe, Annie suffered incredible hardships while they devoted their adult lives to the struggle.

“For me Joe was as true and honest as the day was long. He was a man who was always committed to peace and played a pivotal role at key points for the republican movement, including the 1994 cessation.

“When people look back on his role, they will come to the conclusion that Joe Cahill was rock solid and he will stand alongside the likes of Robert Emmet, Wolfe Tone, Padraig Pearse, Maire Drumm, Bobby Sands and Mairead Farrell.”

In the early 1970s Mr Cahill was identified by the British army as the IRA Chief of Staff.

In 1942 he was reprieved from a death sentence for the murder of a policeman in an ambush in west Belfast.

His colleague Tom Williams, however, was hung.

He was released from jail in the 1950s but in 1973 was imprisoned again by a court in Dublin for gun-running from Libya.

From the mid-1970s onwards he played a greater role in Sinn Féin, serving as its general secretary and treasurer and became a mentor to the future generation of leaders including Gerry Adams and Martin McGuinness.

In 1986 Cahill spoke in favour at the party’s annual conference of a motion to abandon Sinn Féin’s boycott of the Irish parliament.

The motion for Sinn Féin members to take their seats if elected to the Dáil was carried but led to a bitter split and the formation of the breakaway party, Republican Sinn Féin.

In 1994 as the IRA prepared for its cease-fire, US President Bill Clinton granted Mr Cahill a visa, enabling him to lobby key Irish American sympathisers behind the move.

In 2003 Mr Cahill received a standing ovation at Sinn Féin’s annual conference in Dublin when he told delegates: “We have won the war, now let us win the peace.”

For the last year, his illness had confined him mainly to his home and Mr McGuinness claimed today that Mr Cahill drew great satisfaction from watching Sinn Féin’s recent European election and local government election successes in the Republic of Ireland on television.

Sinn Féin President Gerry Adams also paid tribute to his mentor.

The west Belfast MP said: “Joe Cahill spent a lifetime in struggle.

“He was both a leader and a servant of the republican cause.

“He was an unapologetic physical force republican who fought when he felt that was the only option but he also significantly stood for peace and was a champion of the Sinn Féin peace strategy, travelling to the UN on many occasions on behalf of the party.”

Comments: Post a Comment

<< Home

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?