Vol Diarmuid O'Neill remembered
``If Diarmuid was here, he would be fully behind the leadership of Sinn Féin and the Republican Movement in the peace process''. They were the words of ex-POW Jimmy Murphy last Sunday, when he addressed over 100 Republicans from Cork City and county, attending the first public commemoration of Volunteer Diarmuid O' Neill.
The commemoration was held in Timoleague, West Cork, where the 27-year-old was buried in 1996. Jimmy Murphy was a personal friend and comrade of O' Neill's, and was arrested in London at the time of Diarmuid's murder.
Clonakilty UDC Sinn Féin Councillor Cionnaith Ó Súilleabháin, chaired the proceedings, reminding the crowd of the terrible price paid by O' Neill so that freedom, justice and peace could come to Ireland. He said that O' Neill was part of the proud republican tradition of Wolfe Tone, O' Donovan Rossa, Pearse, Seán South and Bobby Sands.
O' Neill was assasinated by British police when he could have easily been arrested on 23rd September 1996. Ó Súilleabháin sent solidarity greetings on behalf of all present, and the Republican Movement as a whole, to the O' Neill family, pledging ongoing support in their fight for truth and justice.
Wreaths were laid on the grave on behalf of Óglaigh na h-Éireann na Mumhan, the Vol Diarmuid O' Neill Sinn Féin Cumann, Cork City, Ógra Shinn Féin Corcaigh and the Vol Martin Doherty Cumann, Clonakilty. A minute's silence was observed and a lament was played by four young members of the Youghal Republican Flute Band, who also concluded proceedings with Amhrán na bhFiann.
Around forty people attended a candlelit vigil on Friday 22 September, to mark the fourth anniversary of the shooting of Volunteer Diarmuid O'Neill by the Metropolitan Police.
The vigil, which was organised by the London-based Justice for Diarmuid O'Neill Campaign and held at St Martin in the Fields church in central London, was attended by Diarmuid's Basque partner, Karmele, who represented the O'Neill family.
The family and their supporters are continuing their fight for an independent inquiry into Diarmuid's death on 23 September 1996 and are also currently in the process of taking their case to the European Court. An inquest jury returned a verdict of lawful killing in February this year after the Hammersmith Coroner, Dr John Burton, made a last minute intervention, setting aside the evidence and telling jurors that to do otherwise would ``make a martyr'' of Diarmuid.
A spokesperson for the Justice for Diarmuid O'Neill Campaign said: ``After what was a blatantly political intervention by the coroner at the inquest, the O'Neill family came to the conclusion that they would have to take this as far as they could, in order to obtain some kind of justice for Diarmuid. They are supported in their demand for an independent inquiry not only by the republican community, but also by the Dublin Government and human rights organisations.''