Today we are gathered to commemorate the 17th anniversary of Volunteer Martin Doherty of the Dublin Brigade of the I.R.A. On that fateful night in Dublin, Martin stood outside the Widow Scallon's pub where a function was taking place inside to raise money for the political prisoners and their families. As two men approached the pub carrying a holdall, Martin challenged them and was immediately gunned down, another doorman, Paddy Burke, was shot in the throat through the closed door which had been closed by Martin to safeguard the people inside by preventing the loyalist murder gang from entering. They hurriedly abandoned their bomb which failed to go off, only the detonator exploding, this was nothing new, the UVF could never master the art of bomb making like the IRA could. They made their getaway in a car driven by a 3rd man.
The UVF issued a statement claiming responsibility for the shooting and the failed bomb attack saying they had struck at the very heart of the Republican Movement in it's own backyard and warned the IRA and the Dublin Government that the Ulster people will neither be coerced nor persuaded and will remain masters of their own destiny.
Fred Cobain of the then Ulster Unionist Party commented that it was only a matter of time before Loyalists went South as Dublin had an increasing say in the affairs of the North and the way to reverse that trend is to indulge in the same tactics as the IRA and attack targets in the South, he reckoned that this may be a sign of things to come.
Martin Doherty, affectionately known to his friends as Doco, joined the IRA in 1981 after 10 men had died on hunger-strike in the H-blocks. In 1982 he was arrested and charged with armed robbery, sentenced in the Special Criminal Court to 7 years and duly transported to Portlaoise Prison.
Martin was a very popular volunteer and was well respected by all who knew him and on completion of his sentence in 1988, Martin immediately reported back to the Dublin Brigade of the IRA only this time his service was to find him in England taking the war to the enemy's door. He came back home only to return again and the second time there; he was arrested and charged with conspiracy to cause explosions. On January 1991, he was released due to lack of evidence and as we all know he once again rejoined his comrades in the ranks of the IRA.
On that night in 1994 in Dublin, the IRA lost one of its most dedicated volunteers. Martin was murdered because he was a Republican activist and showed us that a greater love no man has than to lay down his life for his friends. Many of those friends recall exactly where they were sitting that night and how the sequence of events unraveled and how they owed their lives to a very brave selfless Irish soldier, I owe my life to Doco as does my son and daughter. Thank you Doco for your unrivalled bravery.
When Martin's body was brought from the hospital to his family home in Finglas, an IRA guard of honor stood over his coffin until his removal from the house. A 10 man color saluted the coffin outside his family home and the mourners proceeded to the church in Finglas where Martin's body was left in the chapel of repose until his funeral the next day.
John Bruton, the then leader of the Fine Gael opposition in Leinster House used the paramilitary display at Martin's funeral to criticize the government; he never touched on the subject of the circumstances of Martin's untimely death, UVF ok a paramilitary display, no.
The now deputy 1st minister in the British controlled Stormont government was allegedly at that time a Republican and gave the oration at Doco's funeral and referred to the opposition parties in Leinster House as Quislings and West Brits, now I ask you all, to whom do those words apply today?
If we stop for one minute and compare the difference in surveillance tactics by the Special Branch on Republican activists and supporters and look back to that terrible night in Dublin when the UVF had a free hand to commit murder and drive away, one can only draw their own conclusions, at least 7 car loads of branch were outside that night taking names etc., of everyone entering but instead of remaining as they usually did to harass republicans on their way home, they were conspicuous by their absence, did they know in advance, is, as they stated at the inquest in 7 years ago, the case still open, where is the footage from the cctv cameras from the traffic lights, where indeed. That UVF squad in many people’s opinion came to Ireland's capital that Saturday night happy in the knowledge that they would be given a free hand and they were. Compare that to the treatment of protesters opposed to the British Queen's visit to this country while part of it is still occupied by her troops of which she is the Commander-in-Chief, worse still, while she still claims sovereignty over those 6 counties. The protesters of last week were harassed, had false charges brought against them in court and others subjected to Garda brutality just because they wanted to demonstrate their opposition to this visit. Protesters were illegally hemmed in on Patrick Street for nearly 4 hours, the Gardai are no respecters’ of the law the Gardai want young people to respect them yet they respect no-one.
Finally, I want to remind people that the last British Royal visit in 1911 was followed 5 years later by the birth of a Terrible Beauty, let not your hearts be sad at the craven and affected puppets in Leinster House who bowed and scraped to their British monarch, rather think of them with pride, the young and not so young people who displayed their abhorrence at this visit for those young people are our insurance for tomorrow. As we leave here today we do so imbued with that quiet determination demonstrated by Doco and we solemnly vow to continue the struggle against British rule in our country and to one claim our prize, a 32 county Republic,
It is a sad day for us to be here today and not see our Marion in our midst, you are also an inspiration to us and we will dedicate ourselves to supporting you in your struggle for truth and justice.