We Say
A true patriot

Ireland said farewell to a true Irish patriot on Tuesday when Joe Cahill was laid to rest in Milltown Cemetery.

Joe’s life spanned some of the most turbulent decades in Irish history. Like so many young Irish men and women, he looked on as the full might of the British state came down on the nationalist people in its desperate attempts to uphold the artificial statelet it had created.

Unlike most, however, Joe Cahill refused to stand idly by and dedicated himself to removing what he saw as the root cause of the conflict in his native city and his native country – unwanted and unwarranted interference by London in the affairs of Ireland. And the best tribute that we can pay to Joe is also perhaps his enduring legacy – that the analysis he developed as a young man and carried unswervingly with him throughout his life is shared by ever-increasing numbers of people on this island.

Having committed himself to the cause of Irish republicanism, Joe found himself at various phases in his life forced to make the kind of moral choices that, thanks to him and his comrades, most of us will probably now never be faced with. He fought the British like a lion, never flinching in the face of the most overwhelming odds, and that courage was displayed again in spades when the difficult decision had to be made – the decision to end the stalemated conflict and negotiate an honourable and acceptable treaty with the British. It was a treaty whose inevitable and defining logic is a united Ireland shared by people of all faiths and allegiances.

“I was born in a united Ireland,” said Joe. “And I want to die in a united Ireland.”

Joe was laid to rest this week with the affairs of the north-east corner of his country still being run by London. But while for decades the British had the nationalist community cowed and terrified, ably assisted by their murderous agents within loyalism and their scruple-free lackeys within nationalism, today the nationalist people of the North are united in a way they never were before. United in their conviction that partition is a warped and doomed philosophy, united in their determination to put the dark days behind us.

Rather than sink into an easy chair in his latter years to rest and swap tales of battles past, as so many did and as he was so richly entitled to do, Joe Cahill took it upon himself to evangelise all over the country in favour of the benefits to be gained by a focused and disciplined political struggle against a background of an honourable and carefully-crafted peace strategy. Ten years ago, did Joe Cahill dare to dream that republicanism would have advanced so far across the island of Ireland in such a short space of time? In the Dáil, in Stormont, in Westminster, in Europe, in local council chambers the length and breadth of this country, the growing numbers of republicans in elected office are proof positive that while the decision to lay down the arms was difficult and, for many, painful, it was nevertheless the right one.

That this community was never stronger and more confident is due in no small part to the central part played by Joe Cahill in modern Irish history.

He was the torch-bearer who came from a brave and proud fighting past to light the way towards a bright new future.

The Andersonstown News was proud to call him a friend.

We salute him.

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