PSNI Search ... But Not For Bloody Sunday Killers

Martin Galvin (MG) interviews Cliona O'Hara (CO) via telephone from Doire about the police actions that occurred after the funeral of her grandmother, Peggy O'Hara. Thanks to TPQ transcriber.
Radio Free √Čireann
WBAI 99.5FM Pacifica Radio
New York City
5 September 2015

(begins time stamp ~ 33:38)

MG: Clionagh, are you with us? Welcome to WBAI.

CO: Hi, Martin.

MG: And Cliona is the grand-daughter of Peggy O'Hara. We had a great deal of coverage about her funeral ~ the niece of Patsy O'Hara, one of the hunger strikers who died in 1981, memorialised in the song we just heard the beginning of. And Cliona, you were recently back in Ireland, in Doire, for the funeral of your grandmother and there was a great deal of coverage about it. She got a military tribute - something that I think all of the hunger strikers were given. I know she felt very close to Patsy and his decision to go forward with the hunger strike and perish, fighting criminal status and showing that he was a patriot. Could you tell us what happened a couple of days after that funeral?

CO: So we all returned back to the family home in Doire where Peggy lived and where I grew up as a teenager. We went there to start the mourning process. We had children, you know, family members as well from America and we were all resting and then all of a sudden we actually saw undercover cars driving around the street with plain clothed detectives knocking on our neighbours' doors questioning them. And so we came out of the house and then all of a sudden two police Jeeps pulled up with uniformed officers and they just immediately put on gloves and they started searching the house outside – the gardens and the flower beds. They were looking for shell casings, they said, and we asked them for a warrant. They had a warrant in their hand and so they just started raiding the house – basically the outside area – they were looking.

MG: Now one of the things that you did after the funeral – I know there was a dinner – it's a normal thing in which you would host the people who attended the funeral – and this was a very well-attended funeral. Peggy was one of the most respected people in Doire. I remember going over and campaigning for her. She was the only person who united all of the independent Republicans behind her. But what happened at that dinner to some of the guests who attended to mourn Peggy with you and to try to help you and console you at that time?

CO: Yeah. So we invited people – there were musicians, there were other people, friends, family. A lot of those people told us their houses have been raided – searches – there's actually been arrests made – there are people being questioned just for attending the funeral. Also at the hotel, we have friends that work there ~ the hotel ~ the police have asked for video surveillance of that entire reception dinner. So they're investigating and profiling everybody that was there. Somebody was arrested today actually in relation to the shots that were fired during the wake. So they continue to do searches and they continue to appeal and they're really giving our guests a hard time.

MG: Well ironically, we've just heard from Kate Nash who told us that no one has ever been arrested or questioned for Bloody Sunday although the troops who fired those shots are well known. But if you attend a funeral for somebody as respected and honoured as Peggy O'Hara you can be filmed, questioned, arrested, harassed and the area around it searched. 

CO: That's correct. It was a peaceful, honourable, traditional Republican funeral, Martin, and it was absolutely beautiful. (crosstalk) 

MG: We saw some of the film here and I've attended funerals like that in Ireland. And in fact, I carried a coffin once right next to Martin McGuinness for a military funeral like that for a Volunteer named Charles English a number of years ago and I know Peggy felt so strongly about Patsy's decision and going ahead and she wanted to honour him in every way she could. She always attended events which she thought his legacy should be seen and I know that's the type of funeral she would want. She was an honoured and respected person and it just seems again the British have the resources to arrest people for going to funerals of Republicans but not for killing people on Bloody Sunday.

CO: That's exactly what's happened. Peggy chose everything in her funeral. This is what she planned right down to the horse carriage and the piper ~ she wanted this. 

MG: She deserved to be honoured. I know she wanted to honour Patsy's memory and again I ... I sent flowers over – I knew about Quiggs Florist - got flowers over there right away and saw the next day that flowers were not to be sent. But I just - I felt bad about not being able to go being on trial and I wanted to honour Peggy. She was a great friend of mine, a great friend to so many people and I suppose they'd 've been looking to search me and arrest me now if I had attended. And Clionagh, I want to thank you for attending and congratulations! You had a christening last week and so with still mourning with Peggy and the loss like that still you have something happy to celebrate this weekend and I know she would be very proud of you.

CO: Yes, she is. We have to live in her honour now, Martin. 

MG: There you go.

(ends time stamp ~ 39:05)

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