Two weeks ago, around 100 Ardoyne residents and Republicans attended a local Commemoration to pay tribute to two brothers, James and Gerard McDade from the same family. Both of who died in brutal circumstances in 1971 and 1974 respectively. They were not just brothers but Ardoyne men and also valued members of the Provisional IRA.
It was a small but moving ceremony in Herbert Street, with their family, friends and comrades present on the day. It was honour to be there amongst fellow Republicans, paying tribute to two courageous Ardoyne sons'. It was also great to hear recognition being paid to Republican Stalwart, Mary McLaughlin who sadly passed away a few years ago. Another brave Ardoyne person who shall stay in the annals of Irish history. May she rest in eternal peace. Sadly, I'd to leave early because the Chairperson of the ceremony attempted to use the event to slate non-Provisional Republicans for equallying honouring fallen Volunteers in Ardoyne. Although, the only thing he succeeded in doing was to dishonour the two Volunteers being honoured a chairde! As I've often said, no-one Party or Movement owns Irish Republicanism. It belongs to us all!
|Óglach. Gerard McDade|
Gerard had been active in the local IRA Unit, since the 1969 Pogroms in and around his native Ardoyne. A natural Leader and organiser, Gerard soon rose to the rank of Staff Captain and was admired by his comrades and the local community. Gerard was also a fearless Freedom-Fighter. He had been on the run and hunted by the British Crown Forces since the re-Introduction of Internment that August.
A few days before Christmas 1971, Gerard had just left a friend's house he had been visiting in Oakfield Street. When he was shot in the back by a British Army Sniper. Residents who attempted to help and treat him were prevented from doing so, by the same Sniper who repeatedly fired upon anyone who got close to the dying Volunteer. Gerard was buried with full military honours and his remains are in Milltown Cemetery, Belfast.
Gerard's older brother, James was one of the thousands of Belfastmen who were forced to emigrate to England in search of work during the Sixties. He settled in Birmingham, alongside a growing Irish population. James was renowned as a hard worker and an accomplished Singer in the many Pubs frequented at nights by Irishmen after work.
|Óglach. James McDade|
In secret, James was also an active IRA Volunteer but unlike Gerard decided to operate in the Lion's Den, England. A diligent and honourable Republican, James helped build a successful network of Irish Republican Activists around England and brought Britain's crimes to it's own doorstep. On November 14 1974, Jim had been planting an IRA device in Coventry when the bomb prematurely exploded killing him instantly.
The Catholic Bishop of Birmingham refused to bury him, while the British Government banned all IRA displays in England. Aldergrove Airport outside Belfast refused access to his remains and his family were forced to have him transported to Dublin. He was buried alongside his brother, Gerard in Milltown with full honours.
Six workmates of James, five from North Belfast and the other from Derry enroute to his funeral in Belfast. Were subsequently stopped by the English Police, beaten and terrorised into 'admitting' their involvement in a number of Provisional IRA attacks in Birmingham. Even though, they had nothing whatsoever to do with the IRA, not alone the bombings. The six men soon became known as the Birmingham Six and struggled behind bars for the next 17 years to prove their innocent. All for trying to pay their respects to a close friend. It was not until March 1991, that Paddy Hill, Gerry Hunter, Hugh Callaghan, Billy Power and Richard McIlkenny from Belfast. As well as, Johnny Walker from Derry were set free again!