Former IRA gun-runner, John Crawley, delivering the main address at the unveiling of a new mural in honour of IRA Volunteer George McBrearty on the 36th anniversary of his death on Sunday, said the late Creggan man had ‘stood resolutely at the tip of the spear’ as part of his struggle to remove ‘the British gunman from Irish politics’ and said he would never have turned his back on the Irish Republic.
The Monaghan republican was speaking as the memorial, created by well-known Derry artist Kevin Hasson, was officially unveiled at the junction of Rathkeele Way and Rathlin Drive, where George grew up.
The unveiling, which was attended by members of the late Mr. McBrearty’s extended family, his friends, and neighbours, took place 36 years to the day from May 28, 1981, when, aged 24, with fellow IRA Volunteer, Charles ‘Pop’ Maguire (21), he was shot dead by members of the SAS while on active service in the Lone Moor Road area.
Mr. Crawley, who was on the ‘Marita Ann’ when it was intercepted by the Irish Navy off the Kerry coast in 1984, while attempting to rendezvous with the arms-laden ‘Valhalla,’ described the late Mr. McBrearty as a proud volunteer of the Irish Republican Army, after George’s mother, Bridie, led a wreath-laying ceremony at the foot of the new artwork. Addressing the large crowd that had gathered to pay their respects, Mr. Crawley said: “George McBrearty fought and died as a proud volunteer in the Irish Republican Army, not the ‘Irish Equality Army’, or the ‘Irish Nationalist Army’, not ‘The Agreed Ireland Army’, or ‘The Maximum Autonomy Britain Will Allow Us Army’, but the ‘Republican Army’.
“George believed and had every right to expect that the term republican was not merely a suggestion but a statement of intent.
“George did not engage in the armed struggle to slap some sense into the British Government until they eventually agreed nationalists could become stakeholders in a reformed Stormont
“He did not fight the British Army so that they would leave the streets of Derry and retire peacefully to their Irish garrisons. He did not resist the crown constabulary so that they would change their name and cap badge to something more benign and hire more Catholics.”
During the course of his address Mr. Crawley said the late Mr. Brearty had followed the examples set by Wolfe Tone and the leaders of the 1916 Easter Rising and had thus set an example in his turn.
“George was an active and courageous IRA freedom fighter. He led, as only real leaders do, by example. His place was always to the fore. He stood resolutely at the tip of the spear engaging in active military operations directed towards removing the British gunman from Irish politics.
“As a result of his unflinching valour he was killed in action by the British Army and is consequently not alive today to explain his actions or defend his motives,” said Mr. Crawley.
“No-one can speak for the dead, though opportunists may try nonetheless, but George’s family and friends want you to know, that they believe with all their hearts, he would never have wavered in his commitment to the Republic and would never have permitted his sacrifice to be marginalised or criminalised by those who ultimately proved themselves more determined to survive the struggle than to win the struggle,” he added.