**from yesterday

Saying goodbye to Joe Cahill

Belfast will come to a standstill tomorrow as thousands of republicans and friends of the late Joe Cahill arrive from around the country – and further afield – to pay their respects at the veteran republican’s funeral.

Joe Cahill was regarded by millions as a true Irish hero who gave inspiration to Irishmen and women over the last 60-odd years.

Born in 1920 into a republican family in Divis Street Joe witnessed at first hand the sectarianism of the Northern state during the 1930s. He thought long and hard before joining the IRA and soon found himself making headlines around the world when he was sentenced to death along with five comrades. He only escaped the hangman’s noose by three days. However, his close friend Tom Williams was executed in Crumlin Road prison, where his body was to lie for over a half century.

Joe Cahill, of course, has been credited as being the father of modern day republicanism and from the tributes that have poured in in recent days he was clearly an inspiration during the darkest days of the Troubles. But he also played a pivotal role during the early days of the peace process, where the granting of a US visa to him, on the eve of the 1994 IRA ceasefire, was significant.

His journey from soldier to peacemaker epitomised the difficult road which nationalists and republicans travelled from the birth of this statelet to the present day. A journey not yet finished.

Ar dheis láimh Dé go raibh a anam uasal.

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