25 February 1957|
Camlough, County Armagh
|Died||21 May 1981(aged 24)|
|Cause of death||Hunger strike|
|Known for||Hunger strike of 61 days, from 22 March 1981|
Raymond Peter "Ray" McCreesh (25 February 1957 – 21 May 1981) was a volunteer in the South Armagh Brigade of the Provisional Irish Republican Army (IRA). He is best known for his death whilst on an hunger strike in the Maze prison whilst serving a 14-year sentence for attempted murder and IRA membership.
Raymond Peter McCreesh, the seventh in a family of eight children, was born in St. Malachy's Park, Camlough on 25 February 1957. He was born into a strong Republican family, and was active in the Republican movement from the age of 16. McCreesh attended the local primary school in Camlough, St Malachy's, and later attended St Colman's College in Newry. Raymond first joined na Fianna Éireann, the IRA's youth wing, in 1973, and later that year he progressed to join the Provisional IRA's South Armagh Brigade. McCreesh had worked for a short time as steelworker in a predominately loyalist factory in Lisburn. However, as sectarian threats and violence escalated, Raymond switched professions to work as a milk roundsman in his local area of South Armagh: an occupation which greatly increased his knowledge of the surrounding countryside, as well as enabling him to observe the movements of British Army patrols in the area.
The Kingsmill massacre in 1976; the killing of RUC Constable David McNeice and rifleman Michael Gibson (Royal Jackets) at an ambush at Meigh in 1974; the attempted killing of Protestant farmer Samuel Rodgers at Camlough in 1975 who Raymond McCreesh delivered milk to as a milkman; the attack on a military helicopter and security force personnel at Carrickbroad, Forkhill, in 1976; the attack on security force personnel at Mountain House, Belleek, Newry, in 1976, where the Armalite was recovered.
On 25 June 1976, at the age of 19, McCreesh, along with two other IRA Volunteers, Danny McGuinness and Paddy Quinn, were captured by British paratroopers from the 3rd Battalion, Parachute Regiment. All three were sentenced to 14 years.
Danny McGuinness, who had had taken cover in a disused quarry outhouse, was captured in a follow-up operation the next day. The fourth member of the group, who had been struck by three bullets, in the leg, arm and chest, managed to crawl away and to elude the massive follow-up search. Catholic parish priests facilitated their surrender.
On 2 March 1977, McCreesh and Paddy Quinn were convicted and sentenced to fourteen years in prison for attempted murder, possession of a rifle and ammunition and a further five years for IRA membership.
Raymond McCreesh Park
A Newry playground has been named after McCreesh after a motion led by Sinn Féin and SDLP and independent representatives on Newry and Mourne District Council was passed. Unionists were unhappy with this and appealed to the Equality Commission which called for an equality impact assessment in 2008. The council sub-committee responsible for the assessment decided that naming the park after McCreesh complies with their legal requirement to "promote equality of opportunity and good relations between persons of different religious belief and political opinion"
A council decision to name a children's park after a convicted IRA man is to be formally investigated by the Equality Commission for Northern Ireland. In a statement on Thursday (07/03/2013), the Equality Commission said its investigation would consider whether the council had failed to have due regard to the need to promote equality and good relations between people of different religious beliefs and political opinion. BBC News http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-northern-ireland-21704879
- Tírghrá. National Commemoration Centre. 2002. p. 264. ISBN 0-9542946-0-2.
- Biography from IRIS, Vol. 1, No. 2, November 1981 (Sinn Féin publication)
- Two Lives and Two Deaths for Ireland
- "Playground named after IRA gunman Raymond McCreesh". Belfast Newsletter.
- The British Army in Northern Ireland. Michael Dewar. Guild Publishing
- Raymond McCreesh
- McCreesh Biography from IRIS, Vol. 1, No. 2, November 1981