Laurence O’Neills Graveside Oration for Oglách Brian McFadden 06/06/2012
Brian McFadden and myself have been comrades and very good friends for a very long time, yet I got a shock when Brian asked me to give an oration at his funeral. I responded, “Jesus Brian, what have I done to deserve this?” He asked what was the problem and I replied, “a man would need to take leave of his senses to speak about Brian McFadden” and he replied, “that’s why I picked yourself”. He said, “you will not let me down and I’ll make you a promise”. I asked if he was going to promise to get me into heaven? “No” he said, “you will be pushing your luck a bit there”. He said “I’m going to promise you this will be a one off” I asked if I could have that in writing and he said “what colour of ink would you like”. That was Brian, always had the last word.
The more mature amongst us will recall when we were kids when the wee fellow was misbehaving the granny and sometimes the mother would have made excuses for him by saying “Ah sure our wee Barney would torment a nation” and sure enough that’s exactly what Barney McFadden did and as many ex prisoners standing here today can testify, Brian McFadden didn’t just torment a nation, he also tormented everybody in Gaol.
There were no back doors in Brian McFadden, what you saw was what you got and he told it as it was.
As we gather here today with much sorrow in our hearts to show our respects in a final farewell to Brian McFadden and in sympathy with his wife Martina and large and extended family we no longer need to be sorry for Brian who now has gone to his rest after battling cancer for the past year. Most of our sorrow is for ourselves who will miss him come and go, his pleasant and teasing demeanour, his craic, his company, his winding up, his humour and wit and his advice.
There is no escaping that while Brian enjoyed life he also had a hard life and had more than his fair share of knocks along the way and that was due in no small way to Brian having dedicated a large part of his life to Irish reunification, a cause for which he and his family and his parents before him paid a heavy price. In recent years it saddened Brian to see that cause betrayed and sold out by people who now happily on a daily basis administer partition on behalf of the Queen, some of those same people not long ago stood shoulder to shoulder with the Queen’s chief representatives Sir Hugh Orde and Peter Robinson under the Union Jack condemning Republicans.
How does such treachery equate with the execution of dozens of young IRA Volunteers tortured and tried by a kangaroo court before having a hood put on their head, their arms tied behind their back, mercilessly shot in the back of the head and dumped in a back alley or a lonely country road or in some cases disappeared never to be found, often on phoney accusations of helping the Brits.
All of this caused Brian McFadden immense anguish. Brian saw that act as tantamount to licking the Queens Ass while she enforced her will on the Irish people by force of arms and then to be told the lie that the war was over. If the war is over, Brian would like to know from his grave here in Burt today why Marian Price, Martin Corey and Gerry McGeough are still interned? Why is there upwards of 100 Republican prisoners in Maghaberry, Portlaoise and other prisons? Why are there spy drones and Brit helicopters in Irish skies? Why are there Brit special forces skulking around the Irish countryside heavily armed in unmarked vehicles? Why does the PSNI need armoured land rovers to enforce law and order? And why is there a Brit Secretary of State giving orders to the local lapdogs.
Above all, if the war is over why is Ireland still partitioned depriving ¾ of a million Nationalist and Republican Irish citizens of their birthright?
Brian has a final message to all those who’s actions besmirch the Republican cause and to those who savagely cripple the young men of Derry, “Stand back and ask yourselves how such action could ever further Irish reunification, such actions serve only the nefarious forces of partition”.
There have been many contradictions in Brian’s life but he remained dedicated to the cause of a 32 county Irish Republic. He loved his country; especially his native Derry and neighbouring Donegal, the Creggan and the Bogside were never far from his mind. Bloody Sunday and all the other terrible atrocities inflicted on the people of Derry remained fresh in Brian’s alert mind. The drug and alcohol problems and the deprivation in Derry, all of which he campaigned about relentlessly pained him endlessly, combined with the loss of his young daughter Christina in her infancy, his son Emmett, his close friends Jim Gallagher and Seamus Harris, the combined consequences of all those tragedies had a profound effect on Brian, yet he never complained and bore the burden of life and death bravely right to the final moment.
Brian never sought wealth or status and would have given away the last bite in his mouth, he did manage to get himself a boat, which in Brian’s terms he considered a gem and there was no time Brian was so relaxed and happy as sailing on the Lough doing a spot of fishing. In the summer Brian would have brought his boat to Waterfoot and Ballycastle where he treated his friends and their kids to an afternoon at sea, might I add at their own risk.
Adversaries and friends alike had much regard for Brian McFadden and in North Antrim Brian had many such friends all the way around the North Coast from Glenarm, Carnlough, Glenariffe, Waterfoot, Cushendall to Ballycastle he was so well known he would often stop and go in and make his own tea.
Brian was not a religious man in the traditional sense, but he believed in God and recently told me that he had made his peace with God, and then he told me he was dying. I said “Brian there is worse things that could happen you than dying”, he asked how I worked that out, I said “You could arrive in heaven and Sinn Fein would be holding an Ard Fheis with an empty seat reserved for yourself”. He said in that case he’d have a quiet word with St. Peter and tell him he could give his place to MI5 and he would settle for purgatory!!
POSTED ON BEHALF OF : Betty Doherty