Cllr Lisa Marie Sheehy and Cllr Maurice Quinlivan at the annual Sinn Fein Sean Sabhat commemoration at Mount St Lawrence cemetery
SINN Fein is looking forward to a general election in 2015 having established itself “as the lead party of opposition both in Limerick and across Ireland”, Cllr Maurice Quinlivan has told over 250 who gathered on Sunday for the Sean Sabhat (South) commemoration at Mount St Laurence cemetery.
The annual event marks the death of Sean South on New Year’s Day 1957 when the Limerick man, taking part in the IRA’s Border Campaign, was killed during an ill-fated assault on the RUC barracks in Brookeborough, County Fermanagh.
The Limerick commemoration saw a colour party and band lead a march through the city to Mount St Laurence where the oration at South’s graveside was delivered by Limerick’s youngest councillor, Lisa Marie Sheehy, 21, from Glenroe.
“We look at society today, the divide is still prevalent – perhaps caused by the lack of political will by past and current governments to actively create an equal society. Still the rich get richer and the poor get poorer due to the lack of protection of vulnerable people in society. I think people see through this now where we as citizens cannot be fooled by budgets where they seem to give something back to people but take it out of another pocket,” Cllr Sheehy declared.
Sean South would be “proud to see how things have come along in the party but not so proud to see the state of this country,” she said. Sinn Fein’s fortunes were on the rise and where Cllr Quinlivan had been “on his own for years on the council”, there were now six Sinn Fein representatives at local level, Cllr Sheehy said.
Having thanked the people of Limerick for their support in the election, Cllr Quinlivan concluded proceedings by urging those present to “join Sinn Féin and build support for the party’s aim of achieving Irish unity and a fairer society”.
Meanwhile, there was no major Sean South commemoration organised by dissident republicans this year. These have generally occurred on the same day as the Sinn Fein event and are closely monitored by gardai.
But two of the leading figures in a Limerick republican splinter group which organises Sean South commemorations are currently in custody north of the border for their role in an alleged plot to target judges and PSNI officers in the six counties.
Separately, a plaque was unveiled outside South’s birthplace on Henry Street on New Year’s Day.
Des Long, the Corbally man who is a former vice-president of Republican Sinn Fein but says he is no longer involved, said the event was organised by Coiste Cuimhneachain Sean Sabhat, a “non-political” group who wanted South remembered in his home town. A speech was delivered outside his birthplace by Dr Ruan O’Donnell, University of Limerick.
Also among the group was Sean Garland, who led the IRA attack in Brookeborough in 1957 and carried a dying South on his shoulders in the aftermath.
Mr Garland is the former head of the Worker’s Party who was more recently in the news over failed attempts by the United States government to extradite him for an alleged plot involving North Korea and the forgery of superdollars. As part of the commemoration, Mr Garland laid a wreath at the grave of his former IRA colleague in Mount St Laurence.