01 February 2006

Sligo commemorates Volunteer Kevin Coen

An Phoblacht

02 February 2006

The 31st anniversary of the death in action of Sligo IRA Volunteer Kevin Coen from Riverstown was commemorated at his graveside in Sooey on Sunday 22 January.

Volunteer Kevin Coen tragically lost his life on 20 January 1975 during a gun battle with the British Army at Cassidy's Cross on the Fermanagh/Cavan border.

A large crowd attended the ceremony this year including several generations of the Coen family. Poignantly also in attendance were relatives of Martin Savage from Ballisodare, the first Volunteer to lose his life during the Tan War, in December 1919.

Notable also this year was the large number of elected representatives present from a across party political spectrum.

Members of the Coen/Savage Sinn Féin Cumann laid wreaths on the grave. The main oration was delivered by Sinn Féin Councillor Seán MacManus who spoke movingly of Kevin Coen's courage and selflessness. "His dedication to the cause of Irish freedom was amply demonstrated at a time when the establishment parties in this state were concerned only with their own self-interest. Kevin too could have ignored the plight of the nationalist population but instead took the decision to join the Republican Movement.

Although Kevin Coen lost his life in the course of this struggle it is thanks to him and other men and women like him, that the nationalist population today can hold their heads up high and look forward with confidence to a brighter future." MacManus alluded to the scope of the republican vision, predicting that we would certainly see a United Ireland in our lifetime. He stressed however that "A new society is needed, one that is fairer and does not leave 20% of its population below the poverty level or allow its ill to languish on hospital trolleys."

A minute's silence was observed in honour of Kevin Coen before the ceremony concluded.

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