By David Young, PA
Sinn Féin president Mary Lou McDonald has pledged to move heaven and earth to achieve a united Ireland in tribute to the memory of veteran republican Rita O’Hare.
Mrs McDonald described the Belfast-born activist as an “unstoppable force for Irish freedom” as she delivered the main address at her funeral at Glasnevin Cemetery in Dublin on Tuesday.
Ms O’Hare died on Friday at the age of 80.
Involved in the early civil rights movement in Northern Ireland, she became one of the most high-profile on-the-run republicans during the Troubles.
Ms O’Hare fled the region in 1972 having been arrested and bailed in connection with the attempted murder of a soldier the previous year.
She was later jailed for three years in the Republic of Ireland for involvement in an IRA arms smuggling bid.
The former editor of republican newspaper An Phoblacht, Ms O’Hare held several senior roles with Sinn Féin, including general secretary and director of publicity.
She also spent two decades in the United States as Sinn Féin’s senior representative across the Atlantic.
In later years, she lived in Dublin.
Leading members of Sinn Féin joined members of Ms O’Hare’s family at Glasnevin on Tuesday afternoon for her funeral.
Former party president Gerry Adams delivered an oration, before the coffin draped in the Irish flag was carried to the crematorium.
During the funeral service inside, Mrs McDonald credited Ms O’Hare with a central role in building Sinn Féin as she described her as “arguably the leading female republican of her generation”.
“You knew that your place was to never know your place,” she said.
“An inheritor of that great tradition of unmanageable revolutionaries, an exemplar of that stubborn, relentless courage, who would in turn pass the torch to the next generation.”
The Sinn Féin leader added: “Rita O’Hare and her generation have made it possible for us to achieve the Republic in our time. That is her gift. Their gift to us.
“And she would give anything to be here on the day that we get our referendum on Irish unity, she would give anything to see the day that we end partition and now she relies on us to carry on, to grasp the moment, to seize the purpose of our generation and to make it happen.
“Well, we will move heaven, we will move earth to finish that noble journey.
“So, I want you to know that we’ve got this Rita, we will not let you down and, until we meet again, sleep well our leader, our comrade, our dearest, dearest friend.”