Death of Joe Cahill
Veteran republican Joe Cahill died in hospital late last night.
Cahill was a father figure of the Republican Movement and was an
honorary life vice-president of Sinn Fein.
Cahill was one of the founders of the Provisional IRA after the
split from the Official IRA in 1969.
In a storied life devoted to Irish freedom, he was only spared
execution by British forces only through the late intervention
of the then Pope.
He was imprisoned on many occasions for his beliefs.
He often pointed out that he was born in a united ireland -- the
year before partition -- and intended to die in a united
Sinn Fein President Gerry Adams, paying tribute to Cahill said:
"Joe Cahill spent a lifetime in struggle. He was both a leader
and a servant of the Republican cause."
He remembered Cahill's role in the IRA dating back to the 1930s
and 40s, and said he was one of those who stood against the
partition of Ireland and for Irish unity.
Mr Adams added: "He was an unapologetic physical force
republican who fought when he felt that was the only option, but
he also significantly stood for peace and was a champion of the
Sinn Fein peace strategy, travelling to the US on many occasions
on behalf of the party."
"In many ways Joe was the father of this generation of
republicans and he had the capacity to relate both to young
people and his contemporaries. His contribution to Irish
republicanism will ensure that he will be remembered for many
generations to come. Joe Cahill will be deeply missed by all
those who knew him. I measc laochra na nGael a raibh se."
His funeral, expected to be early next week, will be one of the
biggest republican gatherings for many years.
BRIEF PROFILE OF JOE CAHILL
Born in Belfast in 1920, Mr. Cahill experienced first hand
bitter anti-Catholic prejudices and terrible poverty.
Both his parents were Irish Republicans, prompting the young
Cahill to get involved at an early age with na Fianna Eireann,
the Irish Republican scouts.
At 18, he joined the IRA. In 1942, he was arrested along with
five others after an operation against the Royal Ulster
Constabulary resulted in the death of one of its members.
All six men were sentenced to death. Five of them, including Mr.
Cahill, had their sentences commuted to life in prison, while
the sixth volunteer, Tom Williams, was executed in Belfast
Mr. Cahill was released after serving seven years under an
phased amnesty program that freed all IRA prisoners. While on
Death Row, he made his peace with God and accepted his fate.
"I found that one of the things that helped me a lot was
religion," he said. "I was going to be executed. I was going
another world, and it became quite easy then, once your mind was
attuned to that."
Mr. Cahill married Annie Magee in 1956 and the couple had seven
children. He again served time in prison for another incident,
but continued his activity in the Republican and civil rights
movement. During the 1970s, he served as commander of the
Provisional IRA in West Belfast.
In 1973, he was arrested off the Waterford Coast aboard the ship
Claudia while attempting to bring weapons into Ireland. He
served two years. He first came to the United States in 1970
and founded Irish Northern Aid.
"From then, I've taken a big interest in Irish-American
support," he said. "We realize we cannot achieve our objective
on our own. Sometime people 3,000 miles away from Ireland say
'What can I do?' Believe me, they can do a lot," he said. "In
experience, never in the history of America has there been
support like there is today."