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Thursday, 3 May, 2001, 16:32 GMT 17:32 UK
IRA men's bodies to be exhumed
Bertie Ahern: relatives have signed the documents
Bertie Ahern: relatives have signed the documents
Relatives of 10 IRA men who were hanged 80 years ago have succeeded in having the bodies exhumed from Dublin's Mountjoy prison.

The families of the men, who died during the War of Independence in Ireland, signed a letter of consent for the exhumation to go ahead earlier this week.

They will be offered full military honours at their subsequent reburials.

After they were hanged in 1920 and 1921, the 10 were buried in Mountjoy prison as part of their death sentence verdict under an 1868 capital punishment law.

The War of Independence was fought by Irish republicans against the British Army between 1919 and 1921.

Consecrated ground

Republican groups have long campaigned for what they called the "Forgotten 10" to be reburied in consecrated ground outside the prison.


It will be a state funeral

Professor Eunan O'Halpin

A spokesman for Irish Prime Minister Bertie Ahern said all surviving relatives had now signed documents giving permission for their ancestors to be exhumed.

Among the 10 are the remains of Kevin Barry, one of Ireland's most famous patriots, who was executed in November 1920.

He was the first IRA man to be hanged by the British during the War of Independence.

The 18-year-old Barry was caught with a gun after a raid on a military bread lorry in Dublin.

A 17-year-old British soldier was shot dead during the incident.

Professor O'Halpin: several factors contributed
Professor O'Halpin: several factors contributed

Irish Justice Minister John O'Donoghue warned in a speech at the Mountjoy burial plot in November 2000 that the government would be "unrelenting" in pursuing anyone who tried to usurp the legacy of those who fought in the 1916 Rising against the British and the subsequent War of Independence.

Professor Eunan O'Halpin, the great nephew of Kevin Barry, said there were a number of reasons why the exhumations were taking place now.

'Different perspectives'

He said the passage of time and an implicit agreement between the republican movement and the Irish Government had provided the right conditions.

"The state has also ensured that it has looked after the concerns of the families, because obviously different families have different perspectives, and within some families some people would have been very uncomfortable with the previous republican argument that the bodies should be handed over to republican care."

He said the exhumation process would be difficult and would be carried out under the supervision of the Irish state pathologist.

"It will take some time, and for that reason, a funeral is envisaged some time in late October and it will be a state funeral."

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See also:

27 Aug 99 | Northern Ireland
IRA man's remains exhumed from prison
19 Jan 00 | Northern Ireland
Adams at IRA man's funeral
23 Jan 00 | Northern Ireland
Adams honours IRA volunteers
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