Sinn Fein to launch first McGuinness and joint Starrs/Pearse Cummain

Martin McGuinness
Martin McGuinness

This Saturday will see another milestone in the history of Sinn Féin in Derry with the formation of two new Cumainn (Associations) in the city.

There will be the launch of the first Cumann in Ireland named after the late Sinn Féin leader Martin McGuinness, which will be located in the Bogside, as well as the formation of the Padraig Pearse/John Starrs Cumann in the Brandywell and Bishop Street areas.

The late Volunteer John Starrs.

The late Volunteer John Starrs.

Speaking to the Journal ahead of the launches, Foyle Sinn Féin MLA Raymond McCartney said: “It’s a big day for the party locally with the launch of the two new cumainn.

“We have seen, particularly over the last two years, the massive growth of the party electorally in Derry, which cumulated in electing a Sinn Féin MP for Foyle and people’s quest for a rights based society. And, in the same time, our membership in the city has doubled.

“This is an indication of the growth of the party locally and across Ireland as more and more people agree with our republican analysis.

“So, we need to adapt and build for the future around all that and this is part of that process.”

The funeral of John Starrs in May 1972.

The funeral of John Starrs in May 1972.

The Foyle MLA added: “As Gerry Adams said this week, ‘Standing still is not an option.We are agents for change and it is up to us to find the ways and means to bring this about.’

“It’s an honour to have Cumainn named after Martin, Padraig Pearse and John Starrs.

“Locally, Martin and John are highly respected and are closely linked with the Bogside and Brandywell areas for decades so it’s only fitting the new cumainn included their names.

“The launch will take place in the Gasyard tomorrow, Saturday, at 1pm. It’s a free event and after the formal launch there will be light refreshments for those in attendance.We expect a large crowd so we ask people to come early,”

Patrick Pearse

Patrick Pearse

Martin McGuinness was born in the Bogside in 1950 and joined the Republican Movement at a young age after witnessing at first hand the injustice and discrimination against large sections of the community.

First elected as a Sinn Féin representative in 1982, he later served as both an MLA and MP and held the positions of Minister for Education and Deputy First Minister in the northern Executive.

Following his death, he was praised for his leadership, drive and commitment to his ideals of equality and fairness, and was described as a colossus of Irish republicanism.

John Starrs was born in Hamilton Street in the Brandywell area of Derry in 1953 and grew up there. He served in the Irish Army before the events of Bloody Sunday in 1972 led him to join the IRA.

The late Martin McGuinness pictured several years ago at a rally in his native Bogside.

The late Martin McGuinness pictured several years ago at a rally in his native Bogside.

He was involved in numerous actions at a time when the conflict in the city was at its height. He was shot dead by a British soldier while on active service in Chamberlain Street on the fringes of the Bogside on May 13, 1972, aged 19 years-old.

Patrick Pearse, meanwhile, was a revolutionary, teacher, barrister and poet who led the Easter Rising in 1916.

Born in Dublin, he joined Conradh na Gaeilge at a young age and later established his own bi-lingual school.

He joined the Irish Volunteers in 1913 and shortly afterwards was sworn into the Irish Republican Brotherhood, quickly rising through the ranks of both organisations.

At the start of the Easter Rising, Pearse read the Proclamation of the Irish Republic outside the GPO in Dublin.

Patrick Pearse was executed by firing squad in Kilmainham Jail on May 3, 1916, aged 36 years-old.