11/05/2007

Martin Meehan RIP

I was saddened to learn that Republican stalwart and IRA veteran Martin Meehan died over the weekend.



Martin was born in 1940's Belfast, his father was imprisoned for Republican activities and his grandfather was killed at the Battle of the Somme. He joined Oglaigh Na hÉireann in 1966 and described it as a "big occasion, like joining the priesthood".

In 1971 Martin escaped from prison and crossed the border and in 1972 he and others were involved in a four hour cross border gun battle with the Royal Scots Dragoon Guards. That battle took place at land which was owned by my family at Dungooley in Co Louth, just across the border.

In fact that land is now owned by West Brit Edward Haughey, I remember before the land was sold I was walking across one of the fields and there was loads of empty shells all over the place.

In 1972 Martin Meehan was the first Republican to be charged with membership of the PIRA and in 1975 was the last Republican to be released following the abolishment of internment.

Martin was a lifelong Republican who witnessed first hand the cruelty and injustice of what the British had to offer Ireland.

I think I was about 11 when I first met Martin Meehan in Jonesborough market, my Dad had known him for some time and he introduced me. Even then you could see that this man had a presence and a demeanour that received respect.

Martin was well liked and respected by Republicans the length and breathe of Ireland.

Gerry Adams described Martin as an exemplary republican and said he would mourned by all who knew him

“It was with deep shock and sadness that I heard of the sudden death of Martin Meehan. I want extend my sincere condolences and those of republicans everywhere to Briege and the entire Meehan family".

“Martin Meehan was a lifelong republican who dedicated his life to the struggle for Irish freedom. Martin served the republican struggle as a dedicated IRA Volunteer, political activist and elected representative. Martin and his family paid a heavy price for his republicanism having been interned without trial, served long prison sentences and long periods away from his family because of his activism"

Junior Minister Gerry Kelly commenting on the sad news said

“Republicans everywhere will be saddened by this shocking news. Martin was a republican legend, particularly in Belfast. He will be sadly missed by all of his comrades in Belfast and beyond .On their behalf I extend heartfelt condolences to Briege and the Meehan family"

Many people are what the times demand and when physical force Republicanism was demanded Martin was not found wanting. When politics became the order of the day he didn't shirk his responsibility, he put his head up and was counted.

He lived and died an Irish Republican

I measc Laochra na Gael go raibh sé

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