Saoradh would like to state our position ahead of Sunday’s vigil in honour of IRA Volunteer Raymond McCreesh in Newry. The following has been submitted by Saoradh National Secretary and Newry area representative Stephen Murney.
17 years ago in 2001, as a young republican, I participated, and took part, in the official unveiling of Raymond McCreesh Park in Newry. It was an immensely proud day for the Republican community in Newry and I was honoured to have taken part.
Since Saoradh announced that we would be holding a commemorative event this Sunday [May 20th] in Newry to mark the 37th anniversary of Ray McCreesh, Unionism has gone into what can only be described as a frenzy.
The shock of Irish Republicans having the nerve and audacity to commemorate their dead within our own communities has culminated in numerous Unionist/Loyalist commentators taking to social and mainstream media to vent their sectarian fuelled anger.
Saoradh has organised for a black flag vigil to take place this Sunday at 2pm in Raymond McCreesh Park in Newry. This will be a fitting and dignified event in which we will give the Republican community in Newry, and further afield, the opportunity to pay tribute to a revolutionary they regard as an IRA hero.
We have not asked permission from Newry, Mourne and Down District Council (or anyone else for that matter) because we are not obliged to. Raymond McCreesh Park is a public park. It is owned by the people, it belongs to the public and the people are proud to have it named after Raymond McCreesh. Such gatherings do not need to seek permission.
Over the years there have been several commemorations and vigils held in Ray McCreesh Park organised by various groups, including mainstream Constitutional Nationalist parties. There were no objections to those events and no pointless demands to seek permission as none was required.
Republicans commemorating their dead in their own communities should not offend anyone.
There are a plethora of monuments and streets in Newry named after numerous colonial figures, Republicans and Nationalists could very easily take offence and demand that they be renamed and removed but We haven’t.
We have chosen this location to hold this event because the local community hold Ray McCreesh in such high regard. The Republican community in Newry have nothing but the utmost respect for Raymond, the sacrifice he made and the cause for which he died.
We will not be deterred by hysterical threats of counter protests from sectarian bigots.
We will be going ahead with our event on Sunday and we urge everyone to join with us to remember and pay tribute to one of Ireland’s bravest martyrs.