The following Letter was published in today's Newry Democrat
Since last year éirígí in Newry started planning a commemorative event to remember the 90th anniversary of the Egyptian Arch ambush in which 3 IRA volunteers paid the supreme sacrifice for Irish liberation. For far too long this historic event was largely forgotten about and we felt it would be fitting to pay tribute to the fallen volunteers.
In last week’s edition there was an article regarding éirígí commemorating the 90th Anniversary of the Egyptian Arch Ambush.
The title of the article claimed that the Volunteers were part of an “ambush gang”. As the organiser of this commemorative event, and a proud Socialist Republican, i have to say found this description deeply offensive.
I also spoke to relatives of the volunteers and they too shared the disgust and were hurt that their loved one was described as being a member of a “gang”.
The Newry volunteers were soldiers of the Irish Republican Army who took part in a meticulously planned and daring operation involving over 200 volunteers.
Last Sunday people from all walks of life, both young and old, came together with eirigi to pay their respects to these courageous volunteers and the sacrifice made on that cold December night 90 years ago. They didn’t commemorate members of a “gang”, they commemorated soldiers of an army, an army that was to the fore in resisting British occupation. Despite the odds being stacked against them they nonetheless faced the foe with outstanding courage and bravery. The principles by which the organisation stood and for which many of its members paid the ultimate sacrifice remain relevant almost a century later.
Many people would associate the word “gang” with gangsters and criminals. The use of the term in this instance is effectively criminalising the volunteers and their actions. I doubt that was the initial intention but i think a bit more care and consideration should be shown in future when referring to fallen Óglaigh who gave their lives for our liberation.