On Sunday 10th February, Republicans gathered outside Newry cathedral to remember IRA volunteer Thomas Carr.
The freedom fighter was gunned down by the RUC on the 12th February 1925 and died later from his wounds.
Republicans, community leaders, socialists, e x-internees and former republican prisoners all came together to remember the sacrifice made by the IRA Volunteer.
True to form the RUC/PSNI arrived at the event in several armoured vehicles. Ironically the place they parked to target our event was the exact same spot they parked when the IRA executed three of them in 1986.
The entire event was kept under surveillance with RUC mercenaries photographing participants, including children, using high powered cameras.
The event was chaired by Saoradh An Iúir chairperson Anthony Coyle. Anthony welcomed everyone for attending the event which was organised by the party’s local craobh.
Anthony introduced respected veteran republican, and former internee, Peter Mallon to unveil the memorial plaque.
Peter is a lifelong republican and was interned during the 1970’s.
Coyle then introduced Saoradh spokesperson Stephen Murney to say a few words about Thomas Carr and the unfinished revolution.
Below we carry Stephen’s oration:
“Ninety-four years ago IRA Volunteer Thomas Carr and two comrades were walking along this very street when they were apprehended by the RUC Crown Forces who wanted to arrest Thomas.
In the struggle that ensued Thomas tried to escape by running towards the cathedral gates but was shot several times in the back and thigh by RUC Sgt Tutty.
Although severely wounded, Thomas made his way through the gates where Sergeant Tutty opened fire again.
Thomas collapsed in the grounds of the Cathedral and was treated at the scene by a doctor before being taken to the Nursing Home in Corry Square where he would later die from his injuries.
Thomas Carr’s funeral was one of the largest seen for many years in the town at the time. The entire town of Newry was saturated by large numbers of RUC and B-Special personnel during the funeral, and the graveyard was also surrounded by the same forces.
Hill Street itself has a wealth of history, dating right back to the United Irishmen of the 1700’s up until today.
Thomas Carr’s was not the only blood spilt on Hill St over the generations.
Hundreds, if not thousands, of people walk up and down this street everyday blissfully unaware of the history it holds.
This street was bombed, burned, witnessed funerals, riots, running battles and gun battles.
Many are unaware that an IRA Volunteer was shot dead at this spot. Just a few yards away witnessed another atrocity carried out by the Crown Forces when three unarmed civilians were shot dead in cold blood by the British Army in 1971.
However three RUC gunmen were executed by the IRA in 1986 in an audacious operation in Marcus Square, where the Nationwide Bank is now situated.
One IRA ASU managed to secure the Hill Street area while the second ASU, armed with handguns and dressed as shop assistants, approached an armoured RUC car sitting at the juncture of Marcus Square and Hill Street.
Two Volunteers flung open the doors of the heavily armoured vehicle and confronted the three armed members of the RUC militia. Opening fire, the Volunteers killed all three. Flinging a still pinned grenade into the car, they calmly walked away and disappeared without trace. The attack brought to 18 the number of RUC personnel killed in the Newry area in as many months
Those executed in that operation belonged to the same RUC forces that murdered unarmed volunteer Thomas Carr in 1925, the same forces that murdered unarmed Newry IRA Volunteer Colum Marks in 1991 and the same forces who continue to target Republicans today.
At the top of Hill Street you will see what is now Best estate agents situated on the corner facing the side of the Town Hall. In 1792 the founder of Irish republicanism, Theobald Wolfetone, held a meeting in that same building to establish a Newry branch of the United Irishmen.
Local United Irishmen captured by the British forces had their heads spiked on a building in Margaret Square, also on Hill street, for forty-one days. The Cochran family were not given permission to bury their son’s head along with his body until his father agreed to carry it uncovered in his hands shouting “Traitor, traitor, the head of a traitor” from Hill Street all the way to the graveyard.
These are just small examples of the history in just one street in Newry. Republicanism in the area can be traced from the meetings to establish republicanism in the 1700’s to the operations carried out by the IRA in more recent decades, to ourselves, standing here remembering a fallen volunteer.
Thomas Carr was murdered in a shoot to kill operation. Sadly many more would follow as the RUC trigger happy mercenaries were given authorisation to indulge in state-sanctioned murder and collusion whilst their predecessors today are only too willing to cover it up.
Veterans from the 70s, 80s and 90s have joined here today with Saoradh and our republican youth wing Éistigi. Bringing together young and old to remember our fallen and to pursue the same objectives that volunteers like Thomas Carr gave their lives to achieve.
This fight is far from over. The revolution remains unfinished and its up to us to bring that goal a step closer. We are in the process of rebuilding a radical, vibrant, militant republican movement and although we have made great strides we have much more to do. Join with us, join with Saoradh and play your part in the freedom struggle.
Before we leave I just want to thank Peter Mallon for unveiling this fitting tribute to Thomas Carr. I’d also like to pay particular thanks to Saoradh An Iúir craobh activists Anthony Coyle Michael Dinsmore and Paul Quinn who were instrumental in making this memorial possible.”