Tom Smith remembered, 25 years on
The largest crowd in recent memory turned out on St Patrick's Day in Dublin to mark the 25th anniversary of the death of IRA Volunteer Tom Smith, who was shot dead during an escape attempt from Portlaoise Prison in 1975.
The Commemoration began with a march from Berkely Road Church to Glasnevin Cemtery, led by a ten-strong republican colour party and the Volunteers Smith/Harford/Doherty Band.
The ceremonies were chaired by Sinn Féin Dublin City Councillor Dessie Ellis and the crowd was addressed by a representative of Ógra Shinn Féin.
The main speaker was Sinn Féin Ard Chomhairle member, An Phoblacht columnist, Dublin Sinn Féin spokesperson and party representative for Dublin South Central, Aengus Ó Snodaigh,
who recalled that he had last spoken at a Tom Smith commemoration nine years previously.
Ó Snodaigh said that while Bertie Ahern wants the IRA to declare that the war is over, the British Army ``is re-equipping, is maintaining its arsenal of guns, is fortifying its barracks, is increasing its armed patrols, is raiding houses, is harassing people, is recruiting informers - basically declaring that the war is still on.
``But Ahern's government hasn't yet declared that the war is over either. The arrest of Bik McFarlane last year, the arrest of Angelo Fusco and the arrest last week of Dingus Magee on extradition warrants, the continuing imprisonment of Irish republican POWs, the failure to quash the thousands of outstanding warrants which force many Irish republicans to `live on the run', and the continuing existence and activities of the Garda Special Branch are tantamount to the government admitting that they didn't have faith in the Good Friday Agreement and that they believe that the war is not over.''
Ó Snodaigh also slammed the culture of political and financial corruption in the 26-County state.
On the fate of the Good Friday Agreement, he said that at the stroke of a pen, Peter Mandelson had denied the rights of all those who voted for it. ``One British politician without one single vote in Ireland has overturned the votes of more than two million people in Ireland.''
While the Agreement may be on its last legs the peace process is not, he said. ``There are thousands, if not millions, who played a relatively minor role in the process till now. It is our duty to get them involved. Let us have even greater numbers next time. Sinn Féin has to be stronger politically. We need more TDs. We need to build our strength so that the renewed political institutions reflect our republican ideals. We should always be moving closer to our goals.''
BY SEAN BRADY