In 1986 whilst on remand in Crumlin Road gaol I was lucky enough to get a copy of a book on Charlie Donnelly sent in to me - lucky because the screws were so petty and censored books, newspapers and our letters.
I got to read more about Charlie Donnelly and others when more books became available to us in the H-Blocks of Long Kesh.
When I was released in 1996 I'd go to talks and lectures and was lucky to have met Michael O'Riordan and Bob Doyle, two men who fought against the fascists and although old they encouraged me and others to keep up the struggle against fascists and counter-revolutionaries here in Ireland and other countries.
About ten years ago I went to Madrid with other Irish Republicans where a cairn was built on the site of one of the most famous battles, Jarama. The cairn was made of stone from each of the 32 counties and one from Jarama. A great crowd made up of Irish people and Spaniards attended and amongst them were men and women imprisoned by the fascists during the Civil War.
Eddie O'Neill and a number of Irish people founded the Friends of Charlie Donnelly which later became The Friends of the International Brigades of Ireland(FIBI).
On Sunday they organised a walk from Omeath To Sliabh Fea which was attended by a very good crowd of people from political groups and none. I met some I hadn't seen in years and the atmosphere was great as we walked the four mile along the banks of Carlingford Lough and up a very steep path to the cairn which was built six years ago in memory of the men who fought and died in Spain.
We were treated to great food such as paella, ham, chorizo, peppers olives and fresh cream buns. As we stood about eating and talking a woman played lovely tunes on the bagpipes.
Proceedings then finished with a lovely tribute to Eddie O'Neill who died a few months ago.
The Spanish Civil War was a defining moment and although it took place in the 1930s it's important we don't just talk about those who fought against fascism. The struggle goes on to make Ireland, and indeed the rest of the world, a better place. Join that struggle and keep alive the memory of all those who died to make the world a better place.