A NEW digital archive looking at the life and legacy of INLA leader Gino Gallagher has been launched online.
On 30 January 1996, the West Belfast man was gunned down in the Social Security Office on the Falls Road.
The 32-year-old, who was then the INLA's Chief of Staff, was murdered amidst a feud involving the Republican Socialist Movement and a group of expelled INLA members.
Announced on Mr Gallagher's 25th anniversary, the archive will include photographs, newspaper clippings, videos and political writings.
Archive creator Pól Torbóid hopes to uncover rare and sought after photographs, as well as offering an insight into Mr Gallagher's family life and political leanings through the publication of short written pieces, notes and more.
Mr Torbóid's mother Margaret was Mr Gallagher's long-term partner with whom he had two daughters, Seána and Jade.
"The project came about as a result of conversations with members of the Gallagher family in both Dublin and Belfast and definitely had its roots in many discussions and fleeting comments over several years previous," he explained.
"As my mother's partner and, subsequently, the father to my two younger sisters, I obviously had a fairly close relationship to Gino from a very young age.
"One of my first memories of him was going on a visit to Maghaberry jail with my mother and so, from the offset, and though I obviously did not realise it at the time, this was a relationship wrapped up in the politics and turbulent history of the period.
"Many of my subsequent memories of Gino had similar undertones, from getting stop and searched by the RUC, to house raids, to being goaded by members of the British Army whilst on patrol on the Grosvenor Road in West Belfast, and more.
"Then of course, there was the manner in which he died and the attack on his funeral by the RUC as they charged mourners – these memories and more are burned forever in my mind and I have no doubt played a hugely significant role in my own political outlook and subsequent interest in Socialist and Republican history and politics.
"Gino was shot dead in 1996, in the Falls Road 'broo', as it's known colloquially, less than one mile from where I now live. The events of his death have obviously played out behind the closed doors of our family home in the decades since, as they would in any other home, but we had the added dynamic of watching it play out in the full view of the public, as news stations and media outlets regurgitated events as they happened for many months, and indeed years, thereafter. All of this has no doubt created a burning interest for me."
As well as publishing exclusive writings by Gino Gallagher, it is hoped the archive can attract submissions of photos and other material the family and the public may not have seen before.
"The void that Gino left behind is no doubt incalculable," Mr Torbóid said.
"What we can determine though, is that for an individual frequently written about and at times carried often in the media, there are remarkably little pictures of him available to the family.
"This, and the desire to search out and acquire his political notes, study books from jail, and any other material, is what eventually culminated in the launch of the website www.ginogallagher.org
"Members of the family often ask each other to borrow some of those written works, just to have a read of a piece here and there, so it is hoped that the website can serve as a digital archive of sorts, where all that material can be digitised and publicly stored for all of the family across Ireland, and indeed those with an interest, to access whenever they wish.
"We really hope that the archive will create a scenario where other material that we do not yet know exists can be brought forward and added to the site, and so it is in that vein that we ask that if anyone has any material that they think is even remotely relevant, from written notes, letters, and particularly photographs, to please get in touch via the site or the Facebook page at www.facebook.com/ginogallagher.org so that they can be added to the site, or shared privately with family.
"The archive is a work in progress, there are plenty of other pieces to be added to it already, particularly written work, and we would be delighted if others could join us on that journey to help it grow."