02 April 2005

An Phoblacht

Fermanagh Fenian honoured

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On Easter Monday, a crowd of several hundred from North Fermanagh and West Tyrone assembled at Montiagh, near Ederney, County Fermanagh, for the unveiling of a Memorial to the Fermanagh Fenian, Michael Barrett, executed by the British Government in 1868. The unveiling and oration was performed by Sinn Féin Vice-President Pat Doherty, MP for West Tyrone.

Michael Barrett who hailed from this district was the last man hanged in England in May 1868 just some months after the hanging of the Manchester Martyrs. There were no demonstrations for Barrett like there were for the Manchester Martyrs, when an estimated 60,000 turned out in Dublin. The British Government introduced a law banning public demonstrations for the Fenians after these huge demonstrations. Thus Michael Barrett was almost forgotten until recently.

Pat Doherty spoke about the continuity of the republican tradition. He reminded the assembled crowd that the stated objective of the IRB was 'to establish and maintain a free and independent republican government in Ireland'.

"That struggle continues to this day and will continue until it reaches a successful outcome," he said. Another speaker was Breege McSorley, a candidate for the local council election in May, who praised those who organised the event.

Fr Joe McVeigh, a member of the organising committee, called for an apology from the British Government and the exoneration of Michael Barrett, "an innocent man and an unrepentant member of the IRB". He also called for the return of his mortal remains from London to his native parish. He noted that a group in Cork were also demanding the repatriation of the remains of the Manchester Martyrs.

Local Sinn Féin Councillor Pat Cox chaired the proceedings and among those who laid wreaths were two grandnephews of Michael Barrett, Eamonn and Michael Scallon.

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