Saturday, 23 April 2011

Whitewell republican parade

Today the Greencastle Commemoration Committee staged a parade from the Whitewell Road, around the Whitewell area, and then back down the Whitewell Road to Bawnmore, where there was a commemorative event at the Bawnmore Memorial Garden.

This event has taken place over a number of years and the Volunteer Sean McIlvenna Republican Flute Band from Glasgow regularly appears at the parade.  The band is named after Sean McIlvenna, a member of the IRA who was born in North Belfast but later moved south of the border.  He was killed on 17 December 1984 at Blackwaterstown when he was shot after taking part in an IRA landmine attack on a UDR patrol vehicle.

I thought the parade was smaller than in previous years.  It usually consists of a colour party and two bands with a crowd of mainly young republicans walking between them.  The crowd was certainly smaller than usual and the second 'band' was actually only half a band.  The only Sinn Fein figures I recognised were Gerry Kelly and Gerard O'Reilly.

The event in Bawnmore commemorates, amongst others, three IRA men - Charles McCrystal, Samuel Hughes and John McErlean - who were killed on 7 April 1972 when a bomb they were preparing exploded prematurely in a garage in Bawnmore Park.

Tonight there was a 'function' in the Fountain Bar on the Shore Road, with the Volunteer Sean McIlvenna  Band, a republican group named Phoenix Folk and an entrance charge of £5.

Next year is the 40th anniversary of the deaths of the three IRA men and it will be interesting to see how republicans mark that anniversary but over the past few years this has been a rather dismal and disorganised event and one that has been on the decline.

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