Irish Republican politics and Socialist principles and traditions have been part and parcel of the history of my clann for well over a century. My great-grandfather, was nominated by the lengendary James Connolly, as Chairperson of the fledgling Belfast Branch of the ICTU, back in 1913. Before Connolly moved to Dublin to play his role to organise the working-classes of the Irish capitol, prior to the Great Lockout and 1916 Rising.
My other great-grandfather, was a member of the National Volunteers before that organisation spilt due to it's Leader's support for the British effort in World War I. He, alongside thousands of his comrades subsequently enlisted in the British Army's Irish Divisons with a solemn promise from John Redmond. That their presence on the Front would ensure the creation of Irish Home Rule. Tragically, he with many others was killed on the French Battlefields in the mistaken belief that his sacrifice would end British rule in Ireland.
During the 1930's my grandfather, James followed in his fathers footsteps and also joined the ICTU as a Docker in Belfast. He later joined the Irish Republican Army (IRA) and was interned for the duration of the Second World War by the Unionist Government. My great-uncle, Martin Clarke was also incarerated in an English gaol for his part in the IRA's English bombing Campaign of 1939-1945.
My late father also was a life-long ICTU member and a former North Belfast Commander of the IRA during the recent Conflict. He also spent over twenty years in various prisons for his activities. For three years my Dad and I shared adjoining cells in the H-Blocks of Long Kesh in the 1990's before his release. After his release, he embraced the Peace Process and was elected as a Sinn Fein Councillor in South Antrim. Narrowly missing out on representing the Party at Stormont.
The last few days have been pretty stressful for my immediate family given recent revelations in the media. In saying that, our thanks must go to the time, energy and endeavours of great investigative journalism from Suzanne Breen of the Sunday Tribune and Allison Morris of the Irish News. As a result of both stories, we have received many, many warm messages of support from neighbours, friends and from people we don't even know!
Therefore, I'd like to clarify a number of related issues on my family's behalf. First of all, my sister did approach the Tribune to tell her story because she had been encouraged by the courage of another victim, Aine Tyrell. In coming forward to name and shame her attacker. Throughout the interview and for days afterwards, my sister was quite content to waive her right to anonymity in order that her alleged attacker would also be exposed.
A day or so before publication she backed out, because she didn't want her own teenage children reading details of the alleged sexual abuse. After all, their mother had never disclosed these details to them before. Based on these fears and to protect her own children, the family immediately contacted the Tribune asking the story not to be published. Sadly, we were subsequently informed that printing had already began and everything and would be published as previously agreed. As such, my Clann felt we had no option but contact our Solicitors in Belfast, Madden & Finucane and instructed them to launch some kind of legal injunction against the article being published. After a few hours discussion between all of those concerned, the Tribune agreed not to publish the above details.
On Sunday morning, we were distressed to have read these particular points in the article. As well, as claims that we had spoken directly to the Sinn Fein President, Gerry Adams MP regarding the abuse and our intention to bring the alleged perpetrator before the Courts. Later that evening, we agreed to contact the Irish News and clarify our position and address the claims against Mr. Adams. After all, the Adams family were also suffering with their own ghosts and we respect their troubles.
We did however, notify senior S/F members of our sister's intention to launch a complaint about her grave abuse to the RUC/PSNI and sought an assurance from them that this person would be suspended from the Party. Since that particular meeting, we were never informed by any member of Sinn Fein that she had indeed been suspended.
Earlier today 18/1/10, the Irish News printed the clarification and identified the alleged abuser of our sister. We are also thankful despite belatedly that Sinn Fein have indeed suspended this person. In contacting the Newspaper, we not only wanted to clarify our public position but also of Gerry Adams and the RUC/PSNI. We are also confused, why the alleged abuser had never been charged with these offences. As detailed evidence were archived since late 1980, by the RUC and Belfast Social Services?
We also did not wish for our father's good name and legacy to be further tarnished in future by this alleged abuser. As well as, her dishonour to the noble idealogy of Socialist Republicanism. We hope the above article helps readers understand better, our honourable intentions free from politics?
Mairtin Og Meehan