Matt Carthy and his daughter, Niamh, at the grave of Patrick McManus during the commemorative event for McManus and James Crossan held in Swanlinbar, Co Cavan last Sunday.
Sinn Féin MEP Matt Carthy was the main speaker at a commemoration for Patrick McManus and James Crossan at the outskirts of Swanlinbar, Co. Cavan last Sunday, July 15. McManus and Crossan were IRA Volunteers who were killed in the summer of 1958.
At a well attended event on Sunday members of the local community were joined by Republicans from across counties Cavan, Fermanagh, Monaghan, Leitrim, Tyrone and Roscommon. Elected representatives in attendance included Fermanagh South Tyrone MP, Michelle Gildernew, her constituency MLA colleague, Seán Lynch, Sligo Leitrim TD Martin Kenny and Cavan Councillor, Damian Brady. Matt Carthy’s running mate for the upcoming Cavan Monaghan General Election, Pauline Tully, was also in attendance.
During the course of his address, Matt Carthy said, “It’s an honour to be speaking here at this commemoration of Volunteers Patrick McManus and James Crossan. The fact that we are all meeting here today to remember them, sixty years after their deaths in the summer of 1958, is testament to the esteem in which Patrick and James are held – for their vision, their courage, and their sacrifice. The loss of these two young men in the struggle for Irish freedom remains a painful legacy and has deeply affected this border community.
“IRA Volunteer Patrick McManus was OC of the IRA’s South Fermanagh Brigade. He died on an isolated country road on the border, very near here, on this day in 1958 when a bomb he was transporting exploded prematurely.
“James Crossan, the Sinn Féin Organiser for County Cavan, was assassinated by the RUC on 24 August 1958. That Sunday evening sixty years ago, James had travelled to Swanlinbar to procure a Tricolour to fly at a Sinn Féin meeting planned for the following night in Ballyconnell. He and his neighbour offered others a lift to the border and then walked with them over the crossing. As the unarmed James Crossan walked back to the car, he was shot dead by RUC assassins lying in wait on the Cavan side of the border.
“The RUC’s attempted cover-up about the circumstances of this assassination quickly failed as the truth became clear. The Resistance Campaign that began in December 1956 took place in an incredibly oppressive and difficult context.
“This spark of resistance in dark times showed the world that Irish freedom was unfinished business, and it inspired a new generation of republicans. The men and women of that Republican generation deserve our recognition and gratitude.
“Sinn Féin remains committed to re-establishing the power-sharing Executive and Assembly in the North. But we need partners who are willing to govern for all citizens on the basis of equality and respect – partners who accept that citizens have rights which cannot be denied any longer. Some of the challenges that we face today are very different from those we have faced in the past – but our goals of achieving a united Irish republic based on equality and social justice remain the same.
“In order to change this country for the better, Sinn Féin wants to be in government North and South. But not at any price. We don't want to be part of the system. We want to change the system.We will only participate in a government based on equality, that improves people’s lives and reflects our republican ideals.
“Here in this part of the country, the challenge of Brexit and the prospect of a hardening of the border are foremost in our minds. The approach of the chaotic and divided British Tories in these negotiations has been to put Ireland last. The Irish government and the EU need to make it clear that Ireland needs to come first. We will not be collateral damage in the Tory Brexit. In recent days we have seen the British government’s White Paper on the future of Britain’s relationship with the EU.
“Sinn Féin welcomes the commitment to no hard border on the island of Ireland, a commitment to the letter and spirit and of the Good Friday Agreement, and the commitment to a backstop for the Island of Ireland. But we were given these commitments as part of the agreement last December, and we had been promised legal clarity and certainty by March of this year and again in June.
“We urgently need legal certainty about post-Brexit arrangements in Ireland for our political and economic stability. It is well past time to move beyond promises. What is required is immediate and urgent negotiations to deliver clarity and certainty on Ireland’s interests and the rights of citizens.
“A referendum on a United Ireland is an explicit provision of the Good Friday Agreement, supported by an overwhelming majority of voters on this island two decades ago. Now is the time for all of us who believe a united Ireland will provide a better future - parties, community groups, trade unions, businesses and individuals - to work together to seize this historic opportunity. We need to build popular support for the demand for a referendum while also working patiently to convince those who disagree that their interests will be represented in s new Ireland, and that their voices will be heard and respected.
“Today Irish unity is on the immediate political agenda. It is a realisable goal. Together, and with the memory of Patrick and James in our hearts, we will achieve it. That is the only fitting tribute to their memory and their sacrifice. I hope we can go from here today with renewed momentum and confidence and make that vision our shared reality”.