Join Date: Feb 2009
Report from Joe O'Connor 10th anniversery comm.
Around about one hundred people attended the Vol Joe O'Connor 10th Anniversery comemmoration, in Belfast city cemetary Saturday October 9th.
The event was an independent event open to all republicans interested in Joe's case, it was led by an independent colour party followed by the excellent 'Pride of Eireann republican flute band from Portadown.
Speakers included Chris Morely (brother of murdered IPLO Volunteer Eoin Morely), Lorna Brady (Sister of JB) and Martin Og Meehan of the RNU.
The ceremony watched over by an RUC helicopter hovering low throughout, however they failed to drown out the speeches.
Below are transcripts of the speeches,
Message from the Morely family
My name is Chris Morely from Newry, I feel proud and privileged to speak to you today on the sad Anniversery of Joe and bring the support of the Morely family with me.
As you know, my own brother Eoin was murdered on Easter Sunday 1990 wearing his lilly by agents in the PRM – like Joe the PRM wanted rid of Eoin as both Volunteers were charismatic operators.
We all know who killed Joe and why, I that someday you get the apology that took 17 years of hard work by my mother from the PRM.
They first denied involvement but ballistics would prove them wrong.
When I seen Martin McGuiness standing on the steps of stormont calling republicans ‘traitors to the people of Ireland’, my own thoughts were that those who came calling to the O’Connor and Morely doors were just that.
When I look around here and see the calibre of the people in attendance, it proves the esteem Joe was held in. Despite whispering and in some cases intimidation, you have not been afraid to support Vol Joe O’Connor.
Every one of you people are worth a hundred party following sheep.
The only crime Joe and Eoin were guilty of was being republican but not Provisional. I will leave you with a thought from James Connolly
“Apostles of freedom are ever idolised when dead, but crucified when living
Speech from Lorna Brady
I would like to thank the organisers for inviting me to speak at this tenth anniversary commemoration of Joe O’Connor, an IRA Volunteer who like my brother John was murdered by the British state in defence of a so called ‘peace process’.
Ten years ago this week, the stormont government sent a death squad into this district to hunt down and murder an Irish republican, who like my brother John, and who like us here today would not accept the farce which was being dangled in front of our nation as a political solution.
Joe O’Connors murder was supposed to instil fear into Irish republicans, it was supposed to make west Belfast a no go area for Irish republicans.
Our presence here today demonstrates how that plan has failed dismally.
Indeed the re-emergence of principled Irish Republicanism of all shades, inside west Belfast and across all of Ireland demonstrates that fact.
Joe’s murder achieved nothing, but to break the hearts of his family and children, and expose the treacherous nature of those who ordered it.
Those who sent their foot soldiers to carry out this foul murder, today accuse principled republicans of being no hopers, they accuse us of having no mandate and no strategy, they call us traitors.
Let us have no difficulty in pointing out the obvious to these people, it is they who enjoy the wealth and trappings of power within a British state, it is they who dine with the forces of Orangism and plan strategy with British advisors and chief constables, it is they who have delivered nothing but empty promises to our community, our people who today face a future of poverty under Tory rule.
While we gather at the grave of a young Irish Volunteer from Ballymurphy, murdered on their ministerial orders, we will not take lectures from them.
Those who ordered volunteer Joe O’Connors murder are the traitors, traitors to the republic they once took an oath to defend and to the community they lied to days later.
Worse still they are cowards, cowards who ten years on refuse to admit responsibility for their actions.
All those interested in justice would do well to remember the political climate in which Joe was shot dead at his mother’s door.
Month’s earlier, British secretary of state Mo Mowlam indicated that she would be grateful if the Provisional leadership assisted in the ‘fight against the dissidents’, she got her wish.
Weeks before the murder the Free State government interned the leadership of principled republicanism in the south, weakening its structures and leaving volunteers vulnerable to attack on the ground.
On October 13th, the RUC called at Joe’s home and announced they had a summons for his arrest, satisfied he was in the area however, they then left without executing their summons.
Instead Joe was executed a hundred yards away and barely two hours after they left.
Within hours of the murder the same RUC raided the office of Republican Sinn Fein, an attempt to point the finger of blame for Joe’s murder at other principled republicans who Joe regarded as comrades.
This attempt at a gross lie was assisted by the local west Belfast press, and Sinn Fein politicians who placed themselves in front of the cameras spouting lie after lie after lie.
The SDLP helped cover the tracks of the killers calling for people “not to jump to conclusions”, thus protecting their comfortable stormont positions.
While the Ulster Unionist MLA Steven Keane encouraged Unionists to “sit back and enjoy the spectacle”.
When a murder is committed in broad daylight, without fear or possibility of prosecution, and when such forces of the state add their active support or silent approval, one very dirty word comes to mind, and that word is collusion.
All here today add their voices of support to calls for disclosure in murders carried out with collusion, but we say with equal conviction, those republicans who wish to expose some of the truth but not all of it, are living a lie.
You cannot call for truth in the murder of Eddie Fullerton, in the murder of Larry Marley, in the murder of Pat Finucane, and then pretend to know nothing of the murder of Joe O’Connor.
If your peace process is built on such hypocrisy, the defence of lies, and the intimidation of those who speak the truth, if your peace process relies on the foul murder of young republicans then that process deserves to fail.
I am here today because if my brother were alive he would be here speaking the same truth.
I support the republicans of west Belfast in their calls for the truth around Joes murder, In return I know they will support me in my call for the truth my own brothers murder.
Go raibh mile maith agaibh
Speech from Martin Og Meehan
It’s an honour to have been asked to speak here today in commemoration of Oglach. Joe O’Connor. October 9th is a central date for Joe’s family, as it is his late Grandfather, Francisco’s 23rd anniversary. It is without doubt that, Fra was sacrificed to protect British Informer, Freddie Scappaticci in 1987. Today’s date is also notable for myself as 33 years ago, my own Mother, Mary died of cancer.
Unfortunately, I never met Jo-Jo O’Connor but by all accounts, he was an honourable person and Republican. Therefore, I’m honoured to have been asked to speak here today.
On behalf of grassroots Provisional IRA Volunteers and Sinn Fein Activists, I apologise to the O’Connor & Notarantonio families for Joe’s political assassination. I make the apology as a former Provisional IRA Volunteer, former Sinn Fein member and Ex- Political Prisoner. I do so in the full confidence that the vast majority of Provisionals at that time were rightly outraged by such a callous execution carried out in their name! It was disgraceful and totally besmirched Irish Republicanism!
Let’s be clear why we are assembled here, we’re here to pay our respects and commemorate 26 year-old, Volunteer. Joe O’Connor. Who was he? Joe was born into a working-class Ballymurphy family and grew up in a War Zone. His parents did their upmost to give their children a good start in life. However, the sudden death of their father left the young family devastated.
His mother was left to pick up the pieces and was forced to rely on her own family, the Notarantonios’ for help. The death of his father at the tender age of six had an awful effect on Joe. As the oldest child, he felt he needed to provide for his family. As such, young Jo-Jo was often seen running errands and doing little odd-jobs around the area. The few pence he received in thanks was given to his mother.
Like many Ballymurphy youth, Jo-Jo also wanted to play his part in the struggle for Irish freedom. However, his family circumstances dictated he instead devote his skills to them. While most of his peers were busy socialising and learning what being an adult was. Joe was busy working on a stall in Castle Street, selling his wares.
In spite of his responsibilities, Jo-Jo’s desire to resist British injustice remained solid. Joe strongly believed in a 32 County Socialist Democratic Irish Republic – Proclaimed at Easter 1916 and democratically endorsed in 1919 by Dáil Éireann. He totally rejected the Good Friday Agreement as a deceitful pretext to legitimise Partition and British rule in Ireland.
Therefore, it was little surprise when he volunteered his services to Óglaigh Na hÉireann. Jo-Jo was quickly recognised by Republican Leaders as having huge potential and within a year, he was appointed the Belfast Brigade’s O/C. He soon achieved utter success rebuilding Republican structures across the city.
Regrettably, Joe’s accomplishments were viewed by the Provisional’s as a significant threat to their new strategy and enough to mark him for a callous assassination. Those who planned the killing cynically exploited its timing to coincide with the broadcasting of a documentary on RIRA activities and an agreed meeting between his extended family with Sinn Fein about his Grandfather’s murder.
On the day of his murder, Jo-Jo called to his Mother’s home to make arrangements for his son’s first communion. As soon as he left, Joe was shot five times in the head. The gunmen were recognised by locals as members of the Provisional IRA. It’s Leadership and Sinn Fein immediately issued strong denials.
His Wife, Nichola said; ‘Joe was very political. He joined the organisation to change Ireland and wanted to change the future for his children’.
At the time Joe’s Mother, Margaret said; ‘Since my son’s murder, my grieving family have been threatened’.
Former Political Prisoner & Hunger-Striker, Marian Price charged; ‘Joe’s Killing was an attempt to undermine and break the Republican spirit’!
Tyrone Hunger-Striker, Tommy McKearney said; ‘Rural Republicans would not assassinate a Republican in order to maintain the Stormont government’.
Legendary Republican Brendan Hughes said; ‘I feel disgusted and I feel hurt’.
Former Blanketmen, Anthony McIntyre and Tommy Gorman said Joe’s execution; ‘was to kill off alternative*republicanism’. Both men were also threatened by senior Provos and eventually forced to leave their Belfast homes.
There has been a deafening silence from Stormont Politicians as well as, the Irish & British Governments about Joe’s killing. Throughout the past ten years, dissenting Republicans have continued to be abducted, beaten and threatened by the Provisionals. Those who refuse to be intimidated are felon-set, smeared and vilified! Their integrity is called into question by former comrades who should know better!
The same thing happened in the 1930’s after Fianna Fail became a constitutional Party. A number of ex-IRA Volunteers, known as, the Broy Harriers were employed by De Valera to terrorise their former comrades. They did such a good job that they eventually became the Garda Special Branch. As we know, fascism didn’t work then and it won’t work now.
It’s too late to bring back Volunteer. Joseph O'Connor, the Husband, the father of three, the Son, the Brother and the Republican.
For the past 23 years, the Notarantonio and O'Connor families have asked for an independent inquiry into Francisco’s death. Their call has been supported by Nationalist Parties. Strangely, the same Politicians say very little about a similar inquiry into his Grandson, Jo-Jo’s murder. The family’s right to the truth is as crucial today, as it was ten years ago.
The message from here is loud and clear today is the beginning of a renewed Campaign to establish the truth behind Joe’s murder. No-one wants those who carried it out identified but it is imperative that an inquiry is held to clarify the circumstances of his death and determine the organisation responsible. Such an investigation would enable his family closure and afford Joe’s children some dignity.
We call on all Republicans, Socialists and Democrats who value free speech to support our demand for an independent inquiry into the murder of Volunteer. Joe O’Connor.