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Wednesday July 17, 2013 21:28 by RNU PRO - Republican Network for Unity
What should have been a quiet, serene and fondly remembered ceremony was cruelly transformed into a scene of Martial law, as the Free State police instead used the occasion to flex their collective muscle and display to local republicans the various means of ‘crowd control’ at their disposal.
Life long republican activist and former POW Seamus McKenna was buried on Wednesday morning in Ravensdale following a deeply tragic work accident the previous week.
Seamus and the McKenna Clan are well respected and liked in the Ravensdale area, a fact borne out by the fond compliments paid at the roadside by residents of the North Louth hamlet as the proceedings got underway on a beautiful July morning.
However what should have been a quiet, serene and fondly remembered ceremony was cruelly transformed into a scene of Martial law, as the Free State police instead used the occasion to flex their collective muscle and display to local republicans the various means of ‘crowd control’ at their disposal.
From early morning the Free State police descended upon the peaceful leafy roads of Ravensdale, armed checkpoints where mounted before the arrival of several heavily clad riot squads in transit vans. Mounted officers, masked and wearing helmets patrolled up and down the road as a chopper hovered not too far overhead. Later, paramilitary styled officers walked the roads with caps and flack jackets emblazoned with ‘Armed Response Unit’, randomly stopping cars, questioning their occupants and searching at will.
During the mass, dozens of armed Police officers took up position in the Church yard itself, exceeding even the RUC in their tactics of funeral oppression which were practised against Republicans all too many times in the past, and which it is clear the Gardai in Ravensdale were keen to emulate or even overtake. Before the funeral proceeded towards the graveyard itself, Gardai on horseback made their way along the route stopping to allow their horses to defecate on the road.
Seamus was an Ex Republican prisoner having served several terms inside, and in keeping with the most basic protocol he was given a humble guard of honour made up of other Ex-POWs and their families in matching white shirts and black ties. Such would also be the case for a member of the GAA, a local politician or indeed a member of the Gardai.
At no time was there ever a prospect of a ‘military display’ in Ravensdale, neither protocol nor Seamus’ family would have asked for a such a display, indeed at the request of the family, no National trappings were even displayed on the coffin as it made its way from the Church to Ravensdale graveyard.
None the less, heavily armed Gardai dressed in Paramilitary styles caps and flack jackets insisted on stalking the coffin of Seamus McKenna to his final resting place, lining the roads to Ravensdale graveyard before crowding around the grave itself obscuring the view and greatly obstructing access to the final ceremony from those in attendance.
The only ‘masked men’ ever due to appear at the funeral of Seamus McKenna were those of the Gardai Riot Squad who despite a cermony which was entirely peaceful, insisted on filming mourners on a County Louth Hillside on the orders of Garda Commissioner Martin Callinan.
Their presence was resented by many of the locals who in fantastic gesture passive protest, came out and provided water to the guard of honour who had waited for an hour in the searing heat. No such courtesy was offered to the occupying forces of the Gardai.
Commissioner Martin Callinan claimed during the week that there was only ‘one force of law and order in Ireland’, yet his forces entered the quiet Parish of Ravensdale with all the trappings, mechanics and attitudes of an occupying army. His message was a political one, ‘dissent from the status quo and we will stalk you even in death’, he used the sacred event of a Catholic funeral to deliver his message and for this he should be truly ashamed.
Republican Network for Unity again extend our sympathy to the family of Seamus McKenna, we congratulate the Republican guard of honour who despite deep provocation from the so called ‘forces of law and order’ conducted themselves in an exemplary manner throughout. We also call on the Catholic Church and local elected representatives to speak up a