Joe Cahill

**older Sinn Féin release

Profile of Joe Cahill
Honorary Vice-President
of Sinn Féin

Irish Peace Attainable, Cahill Says. If he did not believe in an ever-fragile peace process, Joe Cahill says he simply would not be part of it.

If he did not believe in an ever-fragile peace process, Joe Cahill says he simply would not be part of it.

As honorary vice president of Sinn Fein, the political party that supports reunification of Ireland, Mr. Cahill remains as optimistic as he is unwavering in his enthusiasm for the never-ending cause of Irish freedom.

Internment without trial was introduced in 1971 in response to the growing civil rights movement and community unrest over continued human rights abuses further provoking popular street resistance and campaigns of civil disobedience. The brutal reaction of the Unionist government in the six counties resulted in the ultimate breach of civil rights - murder by the government - of peaceful protesters at what has become known as Bloody Sunday.

In an interview before addressing the Shamrock Shindig, a day-long celebration of Irish heritage held Saturday at the Clarion Hotel in Scranton, Mr. Cahill said most people back home are disappointed by recent developments.

"I'm very hopeful that the things that have gone wrong over the last few weeks will be rectified," he said.

Over the years Gerry's family has also been targeted by unionist forces. His brother-in-law was killed by the British Army; his brother was shot by the British; several family members have been imprisoned, and his wife and son narrowly escaped injury when a loyalist bomb attack was carried out at their home. To the present day Gerry's health continues to be adversely affected by the years of punishment inflicted during his internment and from his closest call with death, when his body was riddled by automatic rifle-fire in a loyalist death squad attack in downtown Belfast.

Born in Belfast in 1920, Mr. Cahill experienced first hand bitter anti-Catholic prejudices and terrible poverty.

"Ireland, even though it was under British rule at that time, was united," he said. "It was split up in 1921. I'm 80 years of age now, and I hope to see a united Ireland before I die."

Both his parents were Irish Republicans, prompting the young Cahill to get involved at an early age with na Fianna Eireann, the Irish Republican scouts.

At 18, he joined the IRA. In 1942, he was arrested along with five others after an operation against the Royal Ulster Constabulary resulted in the death of one of its members.

All six men were sentenced to death. Five of them, including Mr. Cahill, had their sentences commuted to life in prison, while the sixth volunteer, Tom Williams, was executed in Belfast Prison.

Mr. Cahill was released after serving seven years under an phased amnesty program that freed all IRA prisoners.While on Death Row, he made his peace with God and accepted his fate.

"I found that one of the things that helped me a lot was religion," he said. "I was going to be executed. I was going to another world, and it became quite easy then, once your mind was attuned to that."

Mr. Cahill married Annie Magee in 1956 and the couple had seven children. He again served time in prison for another incident, but continued his activity in the Republican and civil rights movement. During the 1970s, he served as commander of the provisional IRA in West Belfast.

In 1973, he was arrested off the Waterford Coast aboard the ship Claudia while attempting to bring weapons into Ireland. He served two years.He first came to the United States in 1970 and founded Irish Northern Aid.

"From then, I've taken a big interest in Irish-American support," he said. "We realize we cannot achieve our objective on our own. Sometime people 3,000 miles away from Ireland say 'What can I do?' Believe me, they can do a lot," he said. "In my experience, never in the history of America has there been support like there is today."

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