Two new Sinn Féin cumainn were launched in the city on Saturday afternoon.
The Martin McGuinness Cumman and the John Starrs/Patrick Pearse Cumann were launched in the Gasyard Centre in Derry’s Bogside by veteran republican Mitchel McLaughlin.
The new cumainn were formed following a reorganisation of the city’s oldest cumann, the Patrick Pearse Cumman, due to an influx of new members, reflecting the continued growth of Sinn Féin in the city.
The membership of the cumann decided to name the new cumainn after the late Martin McGuinness, a long-standing member of the Patrick Pearse Cumann, and John Starrs.
It is the first cumann in Ireland to be named after Martin McGuinness and is based in his native Bogside. Hundreds of people attended the launch, including the families of both Martin McGuinness and John Starrs, an IRA volunteer who was shot dead by British soldiers in Derry in 1972. At the start of the event the 46th Anniversary of Bloody Sunday was remembered, as well as the 30th Anniversary of the murder of Sinn Féin election worker and GAA member Aidan McAnespie, and support was given to the McAnespie family in their quest for truth and justice.
Scottish musician Gary Og was in attendance to sing the ballad of Aidan McAnespie.
Among those at the launch was actor and activist, John Connors, who read the Patrick Pearse poem, ‘The Mother,’ and spoke of his admiration for the late Martin McGuinness. “My community needs heroes and for me Martin McGuinness was definitely a hero,” the Love/Hate actor said.
Mitchel McLaughlin said that a new generation of republicans take great inspiration from both Martin McGuinness and John Starrs. “Martin will always be an inspiration for his leadership, commitment and vision but John Starrs is also an inspiring figure. In the aftermath of Bloody Sunday he and many others stepped up and took on the might of the British establishment.
“We continue to draw inspiration from them and, indeed from Patrick Pearse,” he said.
The launch was chaired by Daire Lamberton and presentations were made to both the McGuinness and Starrs families by Gerry Doherty Sinn Féin MEP Martina Anderson. Presentations were also made to John Conors and Gary Og.