IRELAND: Bonfires Lit, Shots Fired to Honor Passing of IRA Hero

Photo: Funeral procession for Irish Republican Hero Alex Murphy

By Mike Talavera (Editor’s Note: Correction has been made to when Alex Murphy was first arrested and interred at Long Kesh)

Alex Murphy, a father of four who was convicted in the killing of two British undercover corporals in 1988, was laid to rest in the Roselawn Crematorium on Monday following a massive funeral procession held in his honor in Belfast.

Onlookers saluted as the coffin wrapped in the Irish flag passed by, the funeral march passed murals like the one on Northumberland Street which reads “Our Struggle Continues” with depictions of Provisional Irish Republican Army commander Óglach Charlie Hughes as well as Leila Khaled from the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP).

Murphy’s funeral procession passed several symbols of Irish national liberation

Sellouts from the Legislative Assembly called police after a video posted Monday night showed a masked soldier firing pistol rounds over Murphy’s coffin as mourners looked on. The traitor reformists in Sinn Fein also condemned the video.

Murphy’s death coincides with a time of year when large bonfires are set ablaze to mark the Catholic Feast of the Assumption. Last week, one towering unlit bonfire was draped in the flag of a British parachute regiment and featured a prominent sign which read “Fuck Soldier F,” referring to the unnamed British soldier who was the only person convicted after the Bloody Sunday massacre of 1972.


Two weeks before the 1988 Corporal Killings, unionist Michael Stone had attacked an IRA funeral, killing three and injuring 60. Corporals Derek Wood and David Howes disobeyed orders to avoid the funeral of Caoimhín Mac Brádaigh, an IRA member killed by Stone, and there is some testimony that the corporals were part of a British surveillance unit.

The two plain-clothes soldiers drove a Volkswagen Passat hatchback into the front of the funeral march and immediately faced retaliation from the crowd. Despite Wood firing a 9mm in the air to intimidate his attackers, the corporals were still dragged out of the car and beaten. They were then taken away and shot; their bodies were discovered later.

Murphy was 15 years old when he received a life sentence for the killings along with Hugh Maguire. Back in the 1970s, Murphy He became had been one of the youngest of the IRA incarcerated at the infamous Long Kesh prison, which was operated like a prisoner of war camp. Internees turned it into a shining trench of combat, giving lectures on politics and guerilla warfare, running military drills on dummies, and observing collective discipline and structure.

Murphy was released as part of the 1998 Good Friday agreements, but his funeral shows that the false peace established by those accords is unraveling. The support for the armed struggle and national liberation is as strong as ever, and the memory of militants like Murphy inspires revolutionaries today, who show their respect through the barrel of a gun.