Around 150 people gathered in Belfast’s Milltown Cemetery on Saturday afternoon, November 20, to mark the 19th anniversary of the deaths of IRA volunteers Patricia Black and Frank Ryan on active service.
Patricia and Frank were killed in an accidental explosion in England on November 15 1991.
Lenadoon woman and former St Genevieve’s Secondary School student Patricia was just 18 at the time of her death. Frank Ryan, who was born in England of Irish parents but later moved to Belfast, lived in Poleglass. Both are buried in Milltown Cemetery.
Saturday’s commemoration, which was organised by the Patricia Black Memorial Flute Band from Glasgow in conjunction with the Black family, included a wreath laying ceremony at the graves of both Patricia and Frank. eirigi’s Rab Jackson gave the oration.
Peter Black, Patricia’s brother, said the family was glad to see his sister being remembered nearly 20 years after her death.
“We as a family are immensely proud of Patricia’s contribution to the freedom struggle and we are honoured that so many republicans came out to commemorate both my sister and her comrade Frank Ryan.”
Peter added: “Patricia was an uncompromising opponent of British rule in Ireland and it is important that the younger generation are informed of the reasons why she and many others like her chose to become involved in struggle.”
On Sunday, the 32 County Sovereignty Committee held a commemoration and wreath-laying ceremony in Derry for IRA Volunteer Patsy Duffy, who was killed in a British ambush in 1978.
Giving the oration, Nathan Hastings told those gathered that 32 years ago this week, Duffy was shot down by British undercover soldiers as he checked on weapons as part of his duty as quartermaster.
“Mercilessly and without warning, Patsy was shot in the back.
“I didn’t know Patsy Duffy personally. When Patsy was murdered in this city by foreign soldiers I wasn’t even born. However, it was the selfless sacrifices made by Patsy and countless other IRA Volunteers that inspired and continues to inspire future generations of Republicans to oppose British rule in Ireland.”
He recalled that, shortly before Patsy was killed, the Bishop of Derry called on people to inform on Republican activists.
“Today, in this city and beyond, former comrades of Patsy are echoing these calls to inform on today’s volunteers. Criminalization by the British is being implemented by the church and nationalist politicians.
“British soldiers still operate throughout this city and were involved in raiding homes of Republicans just a fortnight ago. Two of these homes belong to relatives of Vol. Patsy Duffy.
“Just last year Patsy’s granddaughter was viciously dragged from her car and, at gunpoint, thrown to the ground by our new civic police force.”
Kildare Republican Sinn Fein held its annual Frank Driver commemoration in Ballymore Eustace, County Kildare on Sunday.
Frank Driver was born in Ballymore Eustace in 1907. As a young boy he was in Bodenstown when P H Pearse spoke there in 1913. His first activity on behalf of the Republican Movement was when he acted as a tally clerk for Sinn Fein in the historic 1918 General Election. He was active with the IRA and was the youngest internee in the Newbridge internment camp at 16 years of age.
He went on to give a life-time of service to the Republican Movement suffering imprisonment in the 1930s, 40s, and 50s. His last period of imprisonment was in Mountjoy in 1976 for his participation in the banned 1916 60th anniversary commemoration at the GPO.
In 1956 Frank, with others was responsible for setting up training camps. He was interned again in the Curragh in the 1950s. He was involved in the mass break-out from the Curragh on December 2 1958. Frank remained an active Republican right up to his death on November 12 1981.
Led by colour parties from Republican Sinn Fein and Na Fianna Eireann those taking part marched from Driver’s cottage in the Ballymore to the grave of Frank Driver in St John’s cemetery.
In her oration Cait Trainor, Co Armagh, a member of the RSF Ard Chomhairle said that such was Frank Driver, that “no matter what was threw at him or where he was he always worked to further the Republican Movement, even at times when it seemed fruitless Frank worked on, such was his resolve.
“We can all learn from the Life of such a man, a man who went through some of the most turbulent and it has to be said disheartening times in Republican History and still right up until his death he never gave up.
“At present we live in a time where determination and dedication are overlooked as outdated and stubborn, that Republicanism is somehow taboo and in our general lives we cant express our patriotism for fear of being seen as old Fashioned or somehow backward. Well I believe the time of change has come, we now have a chance to speak to the masses and make a difference.
“The Free state economic crisis is an eye opener for many Irish People, the lies the Free state government has fed people have now been exposed, Partition does not work, it has never worked and it never will work. The people of Ireland must have social control of the economy.
“Eire Nua and Saol Nua had never been so relevant, its the only real solution, we have the solution but others just want to focus on the Problem.
“The Myth that the 26 County Free state is independent and the nyth that the 6 county state being devolved is somehow independent has been shattered, the 6 county state has no autonomy, it relies on the British exchequer and takes instruction from the British in the management of the cuts applied to them, the 26 county state also has no autonomy in directing the economy and instead is ruled from Brussels and the IMF.
“Neither state is independent and the present economic crisis has made that abundantly clear to everyone. Partition must be abolished, only the Republic envisaged in 1916 by Connolly and Pearse can give Ireland autonomy, independence and real Sovereignty over our affairs politically and economically, and only the Republic envisaged in 1916 can act in the interests of all our people.”