Hunger Strike Documents: Raymond McCreesh, Underground Fighter
Raymond McCreesh, Underground Fighter
An Camchéacta/The Starry Plough, June 1981

Raymond McCreesh was the most determined of republicans . . . and a most efficient fighter, who combined the attributes of determination with those of security.

From the time he first became involved he adopted a low profile, and when his involvement in the national struggle became public knowledge, even members of his family were surprised.

Raymond's participation in the struggle, like that of so many other republicans, stemmed from a study of history while at school. Like most South Armagh people he was very conscious of his nationality. At school, he played gaelic football and had a strong interest in the Irish language.

Raymond's interest in history served as a guide to activity. He saw the history of Ireland as the history of conquest, and the struggle of the Irish people to free itself from that conquest. He saw that that the present struggle was but a continuation of past struggles.

In his own area he witnessed the terror inflicted on the people by the SAS, and their loyalist sidekicks in the UDR and RUC. He joined the Irish Republican Army.

Though Raymond was extremely young when he joined the IRA, he showed an awareness and maturity which put many veterans to shame. In particular he was extremely security conscious. His involvement was known only to those who worked with him on operations. Because of his discretion, he was never once arrested - or even held for screening - in the Six Counties.

As a result he never had to go on the run. This enabled him to operate freely in the South Armagh and South Down areas.

And they were areas he knew like the back of his hand.

From the time he left school -- except for a brief interval when he worked in Lisburn -- he worked as a milkman in the area. He knew every road, every lane and every field. He used this knowledge in a deadly manner - deadly, that is, to Britain and the RUC gestapo.

During the years of Raymond's involvement there were numerous ambushes on British Army patrols as well as landmine attacks.

These were the years when the British gutter press used its front pages to deride the South Armagh area . . . the years when the term "bandit country" gained currency.

The image they conjured up of the IRA was that of murderous outlaws butchering innocent Brits and terrorising the local inhabitants.

This was a picture which was different from reality. For the people of South Armagh - of which Raymond was one - are ordinary people, with ordinary feelings and ordinary aspirations.

The most basic wish is to end British control of their lives. Nothing more complex. Nothing more simple.

They want an end to British rule - and an end to injustice and oppression.

And they know that this can only be achieved by one means - that of armed struggle.

This is why Raymond McCreesh took up arms.

They have tried marching and picketing and postering. The British response has been more repression, more murder . . . and the introduction of the SAS into the area.

It is a tribute to the example of Raymond McCreesh that this struggle goes on, and that the style of political activity he developed is still a weapon in the arsenal of the people.

His death, and those of Patsy O'Hara, Bobby Sands and Francis Hughes will be avenged . . . on the streets of Derry and Belfast, and on the hillsides of South Derry and South Armagh.

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