Dominic And Mary McGlinchey Remembered
On behalf on myself, my brother Dominic and the wider family, I would like to welcome you all to Bellaghy, to share with us this Easter Saturday in commemorating our mother and father, Dominic and Mary. Whilst here, we pay homage to Thomas and Francis and all of the unsung activists who lie in these two grave yards, who gave so much in the pursuit of Irish freedom.
This year is the 25thanniversary of my mother’s death, killed by faceless strangers as she bathed my brother and me on a Saturday night. Like so many others who suffered similar fates, we carry the pain of this night as best we can and try to turn them into giving us the strength to do the right thing in the future.
Just over a year before my mother’s death, she had to watch her only daughter die. Not happy that she would be suffering enough, the free-state government, through their cronies in the heavy gang of the special branch, set about a protracted few days, using the body of a child to inflict further pain to an already grieving mother.
Even in the harrowing days, her strength and resolve shone through as can be seen in the only interview she gave to the news station at that time. She was also lucky to have such good friends and comrades that she could entrust with her family, the body of her daughter to be taken to this graveyard to be buried.
My mother was a remarkable women cut down at the age of 31. She was younger than I am now. She had so much to give to us as a mother and to the struggle.
My mother had many fears but death was not one of them. I know it, my brother knows it and the men who killed her know it, as one of the last things she said was to be taken outside and not killed in front of her children. She was a fearless revolutionary and fearless to the end.
She was an astute thinker, who understood the need for a broad based movement to bring about change, as some of you knew her and told me many a story about her. She was someone that did not expect anyone to do what she would not do herself. Like many other women of her generation this brought her into direct military action against the crown forces and other counter revolutionaries.
My mother met my father at a roller skating disco as a teenager. My father was already active in the struggle in South Derry.
My father was a quiet man, born to Gerry and Mona. He lived in Rocktown, Lavey, before moving to Bellaghy. He always had republican blood running through his veins. My grandfather, Gerry, had two relatives taken from their house by the B specials and shot outside their home after the burning of the mill in Dessertmartin.
No doubt, this would have influenced him and most certainly would have been passed down from my grandfather himself. With the outbreak of the civil rights movement and the beating of the protesters this awoke in him a desire to smash all that was wrong in the six counties.
He immersed himself in the war organising with many men and women in the south Derry area in taking the war to the Brits. He was then interned and when released, reported back for active service. During this period along with many others they had the Brits on the back foot.
Bearing in mind that these men and women had no border to run to and solely relied on the people of south Derry, Antrim, and those around the Lough shore it was a remarkable feat.
Like a lot of young men who were active in those days, he found himself on the run in places like Donegal and Monaghan, staying close to the border in order to participate in the war.
It was here that he was able to see first-hand that social order in the South was just a mirror image of that in the North and clear lines existed as regards your class and where you fitted in with society. It was during this time, that his outlook changed from a purely Brits out, to a deeper sense of Marxism.
Arrested again whilst on the run, he was taken to Portlaoise prison. It is here his reading material had changed from all things, Pearse, Dan Breen, and Tom Barry to Marx, Connolly, Mandela and Guevara.
During his time there, his comrade Danny McErlane was to be executed. This was wrong, as my father saw it and he made no bones about letting the leadership know. He left the IRA landing and went to another landing of INLA and unaligned prisoners.
The period between 77 and 81, he had used well in terms of education. Armed with the knowledge of his political development, he emerged from jail to join the revolutionary INLA. He along with my mother dedicated themselves to helping build the organisation throughout the country.
Soon after joining, he along with other comrades took the entire organisation under direct military rule. This tactic was to try and ensure proper discipline through all ranks and file. It was to have a successful start as the party continued to flourish and INLA became more effective in carrying out a range of operations against Crown Forces and other counter revolutionaries.
Bearing in mind that the Brits and the Free State government were now using all the tools at their disposal to either kill or imprison them as the war raged. These tactics included the use of informers and the turning of a blind eye from the Free State of British military personnel operating south of the border. Many volunteers lost their life as a direct result of this Seamus Grew and Roddy Carrol just to name two.
After the deaths of the two men my father was back on the run again going uncaptured for over a year such was the support from the people of Ireland at the time right up till March 1984. But the work of Judas had been well done.
Sent north by the Free State he was convicted and sentenced to life. During a meeting afterwards he told his solicitor that he was going to appeal. The solicitor told him he would be out in ten years and to think of all he had got away with and not to proceed with the appeal. He was duly sacked and was told that he would spend every day of the rest of his life in jail for what he did do but would not do one day in jail for something he didn’t. The appeal was won.
He like so many others paid a heavy price for doing the right thing. He had a daughter and wife buried in this graveyard and to not be able to come and mourn them must have been tough. Despite all that both states threw at him was he was unbroken. His sense of humanity always shining through. He loved life and those that knew him would tell you that he loved to see people, especially children, enjoy life.
My father was a bridge builder he could reach out to people and make them believe that it was possible. He did not conform to can’t do club. He also understood that names and titles had no relevance and that organisations were only vehicles in which to travel as a part of your journey. He was led by a very clear ideology and no group or organisation owns his thoughts.
I can honestly say that I seldom heard him say a bad word about anyone. In his 39 years of life he never dishonoured the cause. His desire for a united and free Ireland broken from the shackles of imperialism was a strong as ever when he was shot.
It would be a failure on us as republicans not to learn from the past. As you know the pursuit of the media of him was relentless and we should not fall into the trap of demonising other republicans or portraying individuals as mad or otherwise. We are a risen people driven by a very clear understanding that the very morale fabric of the society we live in is wrong and that it is incumbent on all of us to do whatever we can to bring about change.
I would like to thank you all again for making the effort to help myself and my brother make today a success. I am glad my parents have left me so many good friends. And gathered here today it shows that - we have more that unites us than divides us.