Remembering Paddy Joe

Nuala Perry shares her memories of Paddy Joe Rice who died last year. Nuala Perry is a former republican prisoner.

On Saturday the 23rd of January the Anne Devlin Society played host to an evening for the legendary Irish Republican Paddy Joe Rice.

It had been both a privilege and a tribute to our Society, that we were given permission by the family of Paddy Joe to hold this event in his honour.

As a Society, we would like to sincerely thank everyone who turned up on the evening, to respectfully pay tribute to the name and the memory of this very fine man.

Writing in an earlier piece I stated, that unlike other members of the Anne Devlin Society I had gotten to know Paddy Joe in much more recent times.

I had gotten to know him especially well through the campaign for Marian Price; a campaign which seen Paddy Joe and many of the others that were involved, travel the length and breadth of the country. Where Paddy Joe differed from many other campaigners however, lay in the fact he travelled nursing a severe condition which caused him incredible pain.

Pain or indeed its extent would never serve as an interruption to Paddy Joe Rice. Paddy Joe would continue down a road, a road he first walked with unblemished fervour, a fervour which in its infancy many believed would provide the catalyst for revolutionary change.

Paddy Joe was there to witness the phoenix of 1969 as it rose in all its mythological glory from the ashes. Sadly, he would also there to bear testimony some years later to a choreographed logic that would ensure its obliterated reduction to a pile of cinders.

Every inch a Republican Stalwart, ‘The natural leader of D Company’ [A title bestowed on him by the late Brendan Hughes] Paddy Joe never forgot the plight of the Republican Prisoners, nor did he ever fail to articulate their case.

Republican prisoners and the ongoing state of repression which had brought about their arrest were uppermost, almost always in his mind.

He never faltered in his recognition of the massive sacrifice made by former comrades; nor did he shy away from pointing out the fact, that the conditions that brought about these sacrifices may have been revised to the point of reconfiguration, yet nevertheless the circumstances which created the conflict remain the same.

History or indeed the ability to revise it was not the preserve of the victor in Paddy Joe’s book, but rather, it belonged to those who lived it, fought hard for it and who are not afraid to recollect it in truth.

A great loss, a great man Beir Bua.

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