**Interview with family took place yesterday

WE WILL NEVER FORGET YOU, DAD – Cahill family mourn their ‘wonderful father’

The family of the late Joe Cahill have said that they will remember their father with great respect, love and admiration.

Speaking to the Andersonstown News from the family home in West Belfast, Joe’s children paid tribute to the man whom many regard as the chief architect of the modern republican movement, but to them was just “Dad”.

Joe Cahill (84) died on Friday at home after a short illness. Since Christmas his body had been fighting the effects of asbestosis and with all of his family at his bedside Joe Cahill passed away.

The honorary life vice-president of Sinn Féin leaves behind his wife Annie, seven children and a large extended family and will be given a republican funeral from St John’s Church on the Falls Road on Tuesday.

Tom Cahill, Joe’s eldest and only son, said the family would miss the man who they saw as a tremendous father figure and inspiration in their lives.

“He taught us a lot about life and how to treat people,” he said. “He was our dad above everything and politics wasn’t brought up in our house unless we brought it up. Nothing was ever pushed upon us. We were brought up to have our own values and views. That was very important to him.”

From early militancy to peace maker Joe Cahill was a man who was unashamedly unapologetic about being a republican.

He was jailed on a number of occasions and was sentenced to death in the 1940s after the murder of RUC Constable Paddy Murphy. His sentence was commuted to life imprisonment after the Pope's intervention. Nineteen-year-old Tom Williams was hanged for his role in the operation which was originally planned to draw troops away from republican parades taking place on Easter Sunday 1942, which were prohibited by the government under the Special Powers Act.

Joe was released from jail in 1949 after serving only part of his sentence, but was put back behind bars in 1973 on charges of gun running.

From the mid-seventies onwards Cahill played a pivotal role in the republican movement serving as the Sinn Féin general secretary and treasurer and acting as a mentor for future generations of leaders including Gerry Adams and Martin McGuinness.

A key player in the peace process, in 1994 he was granted a United States visa by former president Bill Clinton to lobby republican supporters prior to the aIRA ceasefire. In 2000 Joe fulfilled a promise he made to his comrade Tom Williams when, after a long campaign, Tom’s body was finally buried in Milltown Cemetery after lying for 58 years in an unmarked grave behind the walls of Crumlin Road Gaol.

“We are a very close family and we had an exceptional upbringing,” Joe’s second eldest daughter Stephanie recalls.
“He was a wonderful father and we had the greatest respect for him.

“The way he lived his life was an example to us. It said if you believe in something so strongly then you have to follow that through, and that’s what he did and that’s what he has passed on to us, this great gift of strength.

“I know that if he were here now he’d be proud of mum [Annie]. Mum has been the one, the rock, who has kept all the family together and strong.”

Joe Cahill’s funeral will take place tomorrow [Tuesday] from St John’s Church at 11.30am.

Journalist:: Áine McEntee

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