A community proudly honours its own
Although the Sunday afternoon deluge cut short the proceedings at this year's St James' commemoration parade in West Belfast, the first ever commemoration march in the area was still a worthy success.
The couple of hundred people who braved the elements deserved the praise heaped on them by the St James' Commemoration Committee and Raymond McCartney, the main speaker on the day.
McCartney, a former H Block blanket man and hunger striker, cut short his speech as the rain lashed down, but he took enough time to commend the people of the area who had stood fast against the attacks from the forces of the state, be they crown forces in uniform or their loyalist counterparts.
Although Friday night's function in the Felon's Club and the parade honoured the republican dead of the area, the contributions of many others were also acknowledged, people like Johnny McDonald who, despite suffering from MS, struggled out of his wheelchair so he could receive a presentation on his feet and Sadie Crossan, whose support was unwavering.
Knowing our history and understanding the past is one of the main strengths of republicanism. Building from the bottom up and incorporating the energy and drive of our youth is another of our strengths. For that reason the Commemoration Committee went out of its way to include young people in this year's events.
In fact, they went further than that and gave young people a central role in both the Friday night function and Sunday's parade.
Roseanne Doran, who carried the national flag and led the colour party on both Friday night and Sunday, told An Phoblacht how proud she was to be given the honour. The 17-year-old student has long been involved in republican politics. When she was nine she sold An Phoblacht and since then has been a member of the Felon's Pipe band and the Ligoniel RFB. Her friend Ciara Bonner, also 17, is also a member of the Ligoniel band and the young women are considering forming an Ogra Shinn Féin group in the area.