Newspaper for Crossmaglen, South Armagh, Newry and Down.

Volunteer Francis Jordan remembered at 40th Anniversary event

More than 100 people gathered in Jonesborough graveyard on Thursday evening to mark the 40th Anniversary of the death of IRA Volunteer Francis Jordan.

Members of Francis’ family were also present for what was a moving and musical tribute to the popular Jonesborough native who was gunned down by the British Army on 4th June 1975, at the age of 21.

Playing a mournful lament on pipes, Paddy Martin senior led the crowd to the Republican Plot while his son, Paddy, gave a unique and stirring rendition of The Last Post on the uilleann pipes.

Ellen Maguire then sang the moving Ballad of Francis Hughes and later closed proceedings with Amhrán na bhFiann.

Sinn Fein Councillor Mickey Larkin chaired the event and told those gathered that our thoughts must be first and foremost with the families of the volunteers.

The main oration was delivered by MLA Megan Fearon who spoke of Francie’s popularity in the area but also his deep sense of duty to his country and his people.

“Many remember Francie’s great sense of humour and friendly attitude that created great camaraderie among his friends and work colleagues,” she said.

“As a young lad and member of the Michael Watters Cumann, he used to sell the republican news in Dundalk, undermining Section 31 and skilfully avoiding the Gardai.

“Generosity is another trait linked to Francie’s personality; his red Transit van was infamous. Each night after work everyone would have piled into the back.  He also drove his friends to the dances in Blackrock, Dundalk and occasionally Lordship; many romances wouldn’t have been possible only for him.  There is no doubt about it, Francie was a hugely popular local lad, well got by all.

“But the 1970s were a difficult time for our people – thousands of British soldiers on the ground, loyalist death squads colluding with security forces, thousands interned, the Bloody Sunday murders and young people living in south Armagh were met with constant harassment from the RUC and the British army.  Francie Jordan and his comrades had the misfortune to be born into one of the most heavily militarised areas anywhere in the world, to be born into the Orange state, one-party rule and institutional discrimination.

“So, faced with the watchtowers, faced with the British Army patrols and faced with British brutality, Francie, like generations of Irish republicans before him, decided to face down those conditions.  He joined the ranks of Óglaigh na hEireann and quickly became OC of the Third Battalion.  He could have chosen another way, he could have taken an easier path but he didn’t. He chose to stand up for his community, for the people he loved and who loved him.”

Pledging that Sinn Fein would continue to stand up for same community Francie did and fight for the same ideals, she added: “Forty years on the political landscape is vastly different. Our struggle continues in a new way. Unionist domination is over, the Orange state has been smashed and there is no going back.  This would not have been possible, and we would not be here without volunteers like Francis Jordan.

“Let me be very clear, Sinn Fein will stand against attacks on our sick and disabled, young and old. We will stand against attacks on public services and our livelihoods. Equality is a red line issue for Sinn Fein.

“Together we must build the Republic we all want to see, a living breathing monument fit to honour the memory of our brave volunteers, of who we are as proud as we ever were.  Forty years on, the republican vision of an Ireland of Equals remains vibrant and viable. The vision of a 32 county republic with equal rights and opportunities for all.”