26 May 2006

Exhibition marks volunteers’ death

Daily Ireland

Updated roll of honour DVD to be launched by MLA

by Eamonn Houston
26/05/2006

The deaths of two IRA volunteers killed 25 years ago by the SAS during the height of the 1981 hunger strike will be marked this weekend with the unveiling of an exhibition.
Charles “Pop” Maguire (20) and George McBrearty (24) were shot dead as they approached a car on the Lone Moor Road in Derry. The car contained undercover SAS members.
The British army’s version of events has consistently been disputed by republicans, who claim that up to two SAS teams may have been involved in the killings.
Both men died after the encounter with undercover British soldiers on the edge of the Creggan estate.
The Derry 1981 Committee will mark the anniversary with the launch of an exhibition compiled by the local republican Charlie McMenamin.
The Derry republican youth group Toirsire has commissioned an updated version of the Derry Brigade Roll of Honour DVD to be launched alongside the exhibition at the Gasyard Centre.
The British army said volunteers McBrearty and Maguire had been killed by a lone British soldier during an exchange of gunfire after the volunteers had stopped the soldier’s car.
Other members of the IRA unit who survived the incident have always claimed to have come under fire from a number of different locations.
Five years ago, this account was given weight by the discovery of a hole from a high-velocity bullet below the position of the car that had held the British soldier at the centre of the shooting.
The bullet hole was lodged in the wall of an elderly man’s house who lives close to the scene of the shooting. He pointed out the strike mark on the 20th anniversary of the deaths.
Joanne McDaid, spokeswoman for the 1981 committee, said: “The deaths of George McBrearty and Charles Maguire sent shock waves through the republican community in Derry.
“At the time, Patsy O’Hara had just been buried. The eyes of the town, the country and indeed the world were focused on the H-blocks of Long Kesh and the hunger strike.
“Despite the upheaval on the outside, the last thing people were expecting in the republican community was a tragedy such as this.
“It numbed the entire community, particularly in Creggan, where two men lived with their families and were well known and very popular,” Ms McDaid said.
The exhibition will document events that took place in Derry at the time.
It is largely a collection of personal photos of local people, who donated them for the exhibition.
It also contains details of other Derry people killed over this period by the British army, street protests and the 1981 hunger strikers.
Sinn Féin assembly member Mitchel McLaughlin will launch the exhibition and updated DVD.
He said: “This is no doubt one of the most significant periods in Irish history that has been collated from a local perspective and through the eyes and memories of those who played a part in it.
“Ordinary people responded in extraordinary ways to attempts by the British to break the republican struggle. It galvanised the nation and produced a new, highly politicised and committed generation of republicans.” The exhibition will be unveiled at the Gasyard Centre on Lecky Road at 7.30pm on Sunday.

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