Veteran who won’t give in
Veteran who won’t give in

The oldest surviving IRA member who fought in the War of Independence celebrated his 105th birthday this week.

Such is his commitment to the first Dail that Dan Keating, from County Kerry, has never drawn a state pension because he regards the Dublin government as an “illegitimate” assembly, set up by a British act of parliament.

And he refused the Republic’s standard E2,500 (#1,380) award to centenarians after he heard President Mary McAleese say her ambition was to walk through Dublin with the Queen.

Mr Keating, who is the patron of Republican Sinn Féin, marked his birthday at a special function in his home county.

An opponent of the peace process, he says his views have “never changed” and said “the only time you will ever have peace is when the people of the 32 counties elect one parliament.”

Born in Ballygamboon, County Kerry, in 1902, Mr Keating joined Fianna Eireann, a forerunner of the IRA, in 1918.

He was strongly opposed to the 1921 Anglo-Irish Treaty and fought on the republican side during the Irish Civil War before spending seven months in prison.

Mr Keating was also an active IRA member during the 1939/1940 IRA bombing campaign in London and was arrested several times in the 1930s.

Last year he praised director Ken Loach’s award-winning film on the Irish Civil War The Wind That Shakes The Barley, saying it “brought back old memories”.

Des Long, former vice-president of the party, paid tribute to Mr Keating, describing him as a “remarkable man” and an “inspiration to all of us who adhere to traditional republican principles”.

“His clarity of thought and his clear analysis of the current sell out and surrender serve as an inspiration to younger generations to work to achieve the ultimate aim of a new and united Ireland,” he said.

“Dan Keating has played a vital role in advancing the cause of Irish unity and today approaching 105 he is uncompromised and unafraid to speak out and state that there can be no real peace until the British declare their intent to withdraw from Ireland.”

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© 2007 Irish Republican News