Raymond McCreesh

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Raymond McCreesh
Born (1957-02-25)25 February 1957
Camlough, County Armagh
Died 21 May 1981(1981-05-21) (aged 24)
Cause of death
Hunger strike
Organization Provisional IRA
Known for Hunger strike of 61 days, from 22 March 1981

Raymond McCreesh (Irish) Réamonn Mac Raois (25 February 1957 – 21 May 1981) was a volunteer in the South Armagh Brigade of the Provisional Irish Republican Army (IRA).[1][2] He is best known for his death whilst on hunger strike in the Maze Prison.[3][4]

Background[edit]

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 Irish 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 Fianna Éireann, the IRA's youth wing, in 1973, and later that year he progressed to join the Provisional IRA South Armagh Brigade. McCreesh had worked for a short time as steelworker in a predominately Ulster loyalist factory in Lisburn. However, as sectarian threats and violence escalated, he 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.

Capture[edit]

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.[5]

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.[6][7]

Hunger strike[edit]

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.[3][4]

One of the soldiers who captured them, Lance Corporal David Jones was later killed by Francis Hughes.[citation needed]

McCreesh joined the blanket protest and took part in the 1981 Irish hunger strike, dying after 61 days on hunger strike.

Gravestone erected for Ray McCreesh.

Raymond McCreesh Park[edit]

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"[8]

Other information[edit]

He is commemorated on the Irish Martyrs Memorial at Waverley Cemetery in Sydney, Australia.[citation needed] Raymond is survived by his daughter Sionainne McCreesh, who resides in the United States.

References[edit]

  1. ^ Tírghrá. National Commemoration Centre. 2002. p. 264. ISBN 0-9542946-0-2. 
  2. ^ Biography from IRIS, Vol. 1, No. 2, November 1981 (Sinn Féin publication)
  3. ^ a b Two Lives and Two Deaths for Ireland
  4. ^ a b Guardian
  5. ^ The British Army in Northern Ireland. Michael Dewar. Guild Publishing
  6. ^ Raymond McCreesh
  7. ^ McCreesh Biography from IRIS, Vol. 1, No. 2, November 1981
  8. ^ "Playground named after IRA gunman Raymond McCreesh". Belfast Newsletter.