14 April 2006

Gerry Adams pays tribute to the life and work of Siobhán O’ Hanlon


Tribute to SF ‘lynchpin’

by Roisin McMmanus

Sinn Féin President Gerry Adams has paid tribute to leading republican Siobhán O’ Hanlon who died this week after a long battle against cancer.

Siobhán, who was a key part of the Sinn Féin negotiating team in the run-up to the Good Friday Agreement of 1998, passed away on Tuesday night.

Originally from the Antrim Road, Siobhán had made her home in Hawthorn View on the Hannahstown Hill with husband Pat and son Cormac.

In 2003 she gave a moving account in the Andersonstown News about her battle against breast cancer.

Gerry Adams expressed his deepest condolences to Siobhán’s family and described her as a kind and gentle woman who cared deeply about her family and friends.

“She was also a committed republican activist,” said Mr Adams.

“Her stamina, forthrightness and determination in pursuing issues were legendary.

“Siobhán never allowed her illness, which she battled with a determination which amazed and impressed all who knew her, to distract her from her work.
“She continued that work right up until very recently,” he added.

The Sinn Féin President said that Siobhán was a close friend and an invaluable comrade whom he had known for many years.

“For the last 15 years she was the lynchpin around which my office functioned.

“For much of that time she was also the point of contact between us and the British and Irish governments. She also headed up Sinn Féin's South African desk.”

Siobhán was an integral part of the renewal of Sinn Féin in Belfast – particularly in the West of the city. She also played a central role in increasingly successful Sinn Féin election campaigns in North Belfast.

The Sinn Féin activist played a big role in Féile an Phobail – Mr Adams said her work was vitally important and without her the Festival would not have achieved its full potential.

“Siobhán organised and participated in meetings with the governments and played a key role in the Sinn Féin negotiations committee during our first public meetings with the British,” said Mr Adams.

“She was a member of the first Sinn Féin delegation to meet the British Prime Minister in Downing Street in December 1997. As well as that she assisted numerous local people who sought our help.

“Easter is a poignant time for republicans. This Easter will be all the more so for those of us who knew, loved and respected Siobhán.

“I want to extend the sympathy of Irish republicans everywhere to Pat and Cormac, to Siobhán's mother Tess, and the O'Hanlon and Sheehan families.
“Go ndeanfaidh Dia trocaire ar a anam,” he added.

Siobhán’s funeral Mass will take place in St Joseph’s Church Hannahstown on Friday at 11am with burial afterwards in the adjoining cemetery.

Journalist:: Roisin McManus

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