As a lifelong republican, I have been shocked and horrified by the sad saga surrounding the removal of the ‘Women in Struggle’ mural at the bottom of Rockmount Street.

My mother, Máire Drumm, is one of the women whose images are included on the mural.

The mural was removed and left lying in an entry and subsequently ‘stored’ in a landlord's office . The Women in Struggle mural was then replaced by an advertisement for landlords.

Although it appears that the mural is to be restored to its rightful place as a result of widespread pressure from outraged republicans, this case raises wider a number of questions.

Not content with exploiting the living, are landlords, whether based in West Belfast or not, now also determined to erase the memory of our patriot dead in their ruthless pursuit of ever-greater profits?

The people of West Belfast have paid a high price in their struggle for national, social and economic rights, none more so than those included on the Women in Struggle mural.

It is crucial that we defend and cherish the memory of all those who have lost their lives in pursuit of those noble objectives.

Landlordism, in whatevever sanitised guise it may manifest itself, is contrary to every value my mother held dear as a republican. She defended those values all her life, against the enemies of the poor and oppressed, until they eventually murdered her in a hospital bed.

There can be no ambiguity or acquiescence on this issue and all parties identified with recent events should clearly state their positions

While individuals from Sinn Féin have expressed understanding and acceptance as to the right of landlords to take such action, I will in fairness await their party position.

Republicans, regardless of what may divide us politically, should be united in our commitment to respect and remember the memory of our patriot dead. Their memory belongs to no particular group or party, but to all the people of Ireland in whose name they gave their lives.

Is mise le meas,

Máire Drumm