Derry Vol. Patsy Duffy Commemoration

Riona Hutcheon, great granddaughter of Patsy Duffy reading a poem written by Patrick Pearse during the ceremony.
Riona Hutcheon, great granddaughter of Patsy Duffy reading a poem written by Patrick Pearse during the ceremony.
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Crowds have been told of a new Republican strategy evolving as they gathered for a wreath laying commemoration marking the anniversary of Derry Volunteer Patrick (Patsy) Duffy.

Patsy, a native of the Bishop Street area, was unarmed when he was killed by undercover British soldiers, believed to be members of the SAS, on November 24, 1978.

Relatives of Mr. Duffy in conjunction with The Patsy Duffy/Liam Lynch Cumann of the 32 County Sovereignty Movement, organised the wreath laying ceremony in the City Cemetery last Sunday.

The proceedings began with a Minute’s Silence to remember Mr. Duffy and “all those who gave their lives for Irish freedom,” after which the flag was lowered. Wreaths were laid on behalf of the Liam Lynch/Patsy Duffy Cuman; the IRSP, Ex-political prisoners, William Street; the 32 CSM Scotland and Saoradh, IRPWA, Eistigi and Junior McDaid House.

There were also floral tributes from the Duffy family, and the great granddaughter of Patsy, Riona Hutcheon, delivered a rendition of the Padraic Pearse’s poem ‘Mise Éire’ during the ceremony.

Delivering the oration, local Republican Mickey Gallagher, on behalf of the Liam Lynch/Patsy Duffy Cumann, described Patsy as “a highly resourceful and dedicated Volunteer who was liked by all who knew him.”

He added: “There is no ambiguity for what Patsy, or any of our patriot dead, gave their lives for. They died for Irish freedom; an end to partition and British occupation which is the very essence of the republican ideal.

“Partition hangs like a noose around our nation’s neck, strangling the life out of any progressive developments and our future. British interference infects the body politic of our country afflicting our people to this very day. It prevents the national reconciliation which is vital for a peaceful tomorrow.”

Mr. Gallagher said that both the Scottish Independence Referendum and Brexit have brought the issue of national sovereignty centre stage.

“And what should have presented itself as a prime political opportunity to challenge on the violation of our national sovereignty the politics of the Good Friday Agreement were fatally exposed,” he claimed.

He added: “In times of high profile resignations those who blindly followed, should now resign themselves to recognising the immense damage they have visited upon the republican struggle.”

Mr. Gallagherwent on: “Comrades agus a chairde, the task of rebuilding this struggle is now ours. For our voice to be relevant our critique of events must come in tandem with pragmatic solutions. To put in place these solutions requires a process which is cognisant of all past errors, our own included. Such a process must be grounded in democratic debate and be fluid and robust to manage disagreement and advance common ground. To admit to error in a revolutionary struggle is a necessary political reality. The republican position can never be encapsulated within the constraints of a given political group. New concepts in developing political strategies are now required. We need to look deep into the ideology of Irish republicanism and give its core tenets a contemporary voice.

“Of late, republicans and socialists of different groups and none have been working together to give effect to this. The concept of Applied Republicanism, wherein political policy must contain a viable strategy to pursue it, has evolved. At its core is the prioritising of message over group. In a series of engagements comrades have repaired and built new relationships. We have reached out to interested parties, campaign groups and professional personnel in a bid to diversify and broaden input. In a step by step democratic process a five year strategy is envisaged to develop a radical policy platform for all republicans to adopt. The Proclamation Project is a political enterprise with a focussed goal. But it’s only a beginning. We need further engagement and the building of comradeship must be central to this. Its door is open.”

Louise Harkin brought proceedings to a close by playing ‘Amhran an bhFiann.’