Old Bailey bomber Dolours Price buried in Belfast
Dolours Price “was a liberator but she never managed to liberate herself” from her ideals, the journalist and socialist activist Eamonn McCann said in his graveside oration for the west Belfast republican yesterday.
Hundreds of people attended the funeral in west Belfast of Ms Price, who died in Dublin last week and who with her younger sister Marian was jailed for the 1973 Old Bailey bombings in London.
Her funeral Mass was held in St Agnes’s Church in Andersonstown where the chief mourners were her children Danny and Oscar, actor Stephen Rea who is her former husband, her sister Clare and brother Damian Price.
Marian Price, who had been granted compassionate leave to attend her sister’s wake on Sunday morning at the Price family home in Andersonstown just a few hundred yards from the church, did not attend. She remains in hospital custody after the licence under which she was released for the Old Bailey bombings was revoked by former Northern secretary Owen Paterson.
Sinn Féin president Gerry Adams had already stated he would not be attending the funeral. There were few Sinn Féin politicians at the funeral. However writer and former Sinn Féin publicity chief Danny Morrison did attend, as did the Sinn Féin MP for West Belfast Paul Maskey.
Falling out with Sinn Féin
Dolours Price had long been disenchanted with the Sinn Féin leadership and believed the peace process was a sellout.
She claimed Mr Adams was her Belfast commanding IRA officer at the time of the Old Bailey bombings. She said he was also her “OC” when she was part of an IRA team that drove mother-of-10 Jean McConville across the Border and ultimately to her death. Mr Adams has repeatedly denied these claims.
Black flags were placed on poles along the Andersonstown Road during the funeral. Her coffin, draped in the Tricolour, was carried from the family home at Slievegullion Drive led by a lone piper who played Raglan Road as the cortège left the house. At the house, among those taking the first lift of the coffin were Stephen Rea and Danny and Oscar Rea.
The chief celebrant was Msgr Raymond Murray, chaplain at Armagh Prison where the Price sisters were held after their repatriation from prison in England.
In his homily he recalled how, before joining the IRA, Dolours Price was involved in the civil rights movement, was a member of People’s Democracy and was on the PD march in 1969 when it was attacked by loyalists at Burntollet. “She was thrown into the river when it was attacked,” he said.
Msgr Murray said there was never a period since her imprisonment and force-fed hunger strike in prison in England when she was not ill.
He said she and Marian Price were like “bosom twins”.
The socialist republican Bernadette McAliskey and Eamonn McCann gave the graveside orations at Milltown Cemetery where Dolours Price was interred. Mr McCann said he had known and loved Ms Price going back to the days of the People’s Democracy in 1969.
Woman of contradictions
He said she was a woman of contradictions, “tungsten tough and hard as nails” in her deep-rooted republican ideals but soft natured in her personal relationships.
“She was a liberator but she never managed to liberate herself from those ideals,” he said. “Sometimes we are imprisoned with an ideal. Sometimes in war atrocious things are done. Sometimes hard things have to be done. Sometimes it is very difficult to handle the hard things that you felt compelled to do when you are soft-hearted at the core of your being.”
Among the attendance at the funeral were Hugh Feeney, one of the Old Bailey bombers, and Dr Anthony McIntyre, a former IRA prisoner and researcher for the Boston College Troubles historical project, to which Ms Price controversially gave interviews.
Also at the funeral were Lurgan dissident republican Colin Duffy and Breandán Mac Cionnaith of Éirígí and the Garvaghy Road Residents Coalition.