- 08 Mar 23
"She would give anything to be here on the day that we get our referendum on Irish unity.... we will move Heaven, we will move Earth, to finish that noble journey.”
Sinn Féin’s Mary Lou has made a pledge to achieve a united Ireland in tribute to the memory of veteran republican Rita O’Hare who died on Friday, aged 80.
The Sinn Féin president described the late O’Hare as an “unstoppable force for Irish freedom”, whilst delivering a speech at the Belfast-born activist's funeral at Glasnevin Cemetery on Tuesday.
O’Hare became one of the most high-profile republicans to be on the run during the Troubles as she became involved in the early civil rights movement in Northern Ireland.
In 1972 she fled her home county after she was arrested and released on bail inconnection with the attempted murder of a soldier in 1971.
Three years later she was incarcerated in Limerick Prison alongside her fellow republican prisoners, charged for her involvement with an IRA arms smuggling attempt.
Having been the former editor of republican newspaper An Phoblacht for a number of years, the roles held by the late republican within Sinn Féin included general secretary and director of publicity. She also spent two decades as Sinn Féin's senior representative in the US.
Some of Sinn Féin’s most prominent members were in attendance at her funeral yesterday, alongside Ms O’Hare’s family members. Leader Mary Lou McDonald, and former president Gerry Adams were among those carrying Ms O’Hare’s coffin to the crematorium, which was draped in the tricolour. The former Sinn Féin president also delivered an oration at the service on Tuesday.
During the funeral, Ms McDonald highlighted O’Hare’s central role in building the republican party, dubbing her as “arguably the leading female republican of her generation.”
“You knew that your place was to never know your place,” Ms McDonald stated in the main funeral address of O’Hare.
“An inheritor of that great tradition of unmanageable revolutionaries, an exemplar of that stubborn, relentless courage, who would in turn pass the torch to the next generation.”
Continuing her address, Mary Lou said, “she[Rita] would give anything to be here on the day that we get our referendum on Irish unity, she would give anything to see the day that we end partition and now she relies on us to carry on, to grasp the moment, to seize the purpose of our generation and to make it happen.”
“Well, we will move Heaven, we will move Earth, to finish that noble journey.”
“So, I want you to know that we've got this Rita - we will not let you down and, until we meet again, sleep well our leader, our comrade, our dearest, dearest friend.”