TD stands by decision to attend funeral of dissident republican leader O Bradaigh
FINE Gael TD Frank Feighan has defended his decision to attend the funeral of veteran dissident republican leader Ruairi O Bradaigh, despite ugly clashes between riot police and a 'colour party'.
Scuffles broke out in St Coman's graveyard, Roscommon, after the O Bradaigh family and a 'colour party' of 20 brought the coffin to the grave which was ringed by 14 gardai.
Some mourners were involved in angry exchanges with members of the Emergency Response Unit (ERU) and gardai in riot gear, although no one was hurt and there were no arrests.
Mr Feighan, a TD for Roscommon/South Leitrim, said he had no regrets about attending the funeral and commiserating with the family of the former Sinn president and ex-IRA chief of staff.
He said Mr O Bradaigh's daughter Eithne is married to one of his neighbours at Coote Hall and O Bradaigh was a politician he had personally met on many occasions,
"I do not agree with his views. . . I felt I paid my respect as a person," he said.
However, Mr Feighan said he decided to confine his attendance to the Mass and to commiserations in the churchyard of Sacred Heart Church in Roscommon and did not follow the cortege to the graveyard.
He said he chose not to attend the graveyard because he knew there was a risk of paramilitaries firing a volley of shots over the grave, a tradition which was not possible because of the large garda presence.
At the bilingual service on Saturday, over 1,800 mourners heard the 80-year-old O'Bradaigh described as a man for all seasons
He is survived by his wife Patsy, sons Matt, Ruairi Og, Conchur and Colm, daughters Deirdre and Eithne, and brother Sean.
Former Fianna Fail TD Michael Finneran was also among the congregation.