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VIDEO REPORT FROM BOBBY STOREY FUNERAL: Adams salutes revolutionary who would move heaven and earth for the republican cause

By Michael Jackson

FINAL FAREWELL: Gerry Adams praised courage and commitment of Bobby Storey at Milltown Republican Plot. Photo by Darren McMullan.

Former Sinn Féin President Gerry Adams has paid tribute to Bobby Storey as “a great republican and a great human being.”

Mr Adams delivered the funeral oration for Bobby Storey at the republican plot in Milltown Cemetery this afternoon.

Ahead of Mr Adams’ address, Sinn Féin deputy leader Michelle O’Neill read a poem by Robert Frost, called ‘The Road Not Taken’, which ends: “Two roads diverged in a wood, and I — I took the one less travelled by, And that has made all the difference.”

Ms O’Neill concluded by saying: “Thank you Bobby for taking the road less travelled. We will continue on your path.”

In his address, Gerry Adams praised the NHS for trying to save Bobby’s life following a lung operation.

He said that many people have “affectionate stories” to tell of “Big Bob”.

“I find it very humbling, and heartbreaking, but a great honour to speak here today,” he said.

 “I’ve known many sound people but Bobby was out on his own.

“He was always positive. He was a great motivator. One comrade told me one day that Bobby Storey could make you think you could fly a plane.

“Ní raibh aon rud dodhéanta aige (nothing was impossible for him), and when you talked to him, whatever the issue, you would always come away knowing that he would move heaven and earth to do what needed to be done to help, and he would do it with a smile.

“The craic around Bobby was mighty.”

Mr Adams joked affectionately about Bobby’s stammer, describing how he had “turned that into an advantage.”

He talked of Bobby’s “infectious humour”, and how he would often poke fun at himself.

“I don’t know anyone who knew Bobby Storey who didn’t like him – except for maybe MI5, MI6, the old RUC, the British Army and prison governors,” he said.

“He was smart, well read, funny, always ready to listen, always ready to help, always prepared to give freely of his time and his great positive energy.”

Recounting Bobby’s “selfless” nature, Mr Adams told how Bobby acted as Father Christmas for a number of West Belfast families – something he did “with no fuss”.

He said that Bobby had been “politicised” by events such as the loyalist pogroms of the late 60s and early 70s, as well as events such as the Falls Curfew of July 1970 when the British Army “turned” on the nationalist community.

“The editorial in our local community newspaper, The Andersonstown News, this week describes all of this extremely well, including how the republican youth of Belfast rose up against the Orange and British state and brought all of us to where we are today,” he stated.

Having joined the IRA in 1972, Bobby dedicated his life to the republican struggle, spending over 20 years in British prisons.

Mr Adams said Bobby’s “saddest moments” had been during the Hunger Strike of 1981.

He praised Bobby’s contribution to the 1983 IRA escape from Long Kesh which, if successful, he hoped would “devastate the British government and ruin Margaret Thatcher’s life”.

An “accomplished revolutionary”, Bobby was also described as being “proud, kind, gentle, wise”.

Mr Adams added that he was “one of the bravest people” he had ever met.

Mr Adams said that whilst Fine Gael is able to claim Michael Collins, and Fianna Fáil can claim Éamon De Valera, Sinn Féin is pleased to be able to claim Bobby Storey.

“It’s very hard to believe that he’s gone,” he said.

“There’s always a terrible shock when a crann taca (support tree) falls. The shock does stop us in our tracks, and we do retreat into ourselves, but the sun still shines and the rain still falls.”

Mr Adams said many of those who knew Bobby “may never be the same again”, but said that they would “be even better as human beings, as Irish Patriots, as republicans” because of him.

He concluded: “Because of him we can go forward with optimism as more and more people on this island realise that England only rules us only in English interests. And the time is coming when we will end English rule and replace it with governance by the people of this island, for the people of this island.”

He added: “They cannot rule us. They have not our consent to rule us. That’s what Bobby believed.”

Homepage photo shows Martina Anderson MLA leading guard of honour. Video by Thomas McMullan. 


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