Volunteer Larry Marley

On April 2nd 1987 IRA volunteer Larry Marley was shot dead by a pro British death squad at his home in Ardoyne. His funeral was delayed for three days due to attacks from the RUC as APRN reported at the time:

There was a massive demonstration of popular resistance to British injustice on Wednesday when thousands upon thousands of people took to the streets of Belfast for the funeral of IRA Volunteer Larry Marley.

Two previous attempts to bury Volunteer Marley, who had been murdered by loyalist assassins at his Ardoyne home almost a week earlier, were frustrated by the heavy-handed actions of the RUC who did everything in their power to prevent a dignified funeral taking place.

Far from intimidating the Marley family, the actions of the RUC merely strengthened their resolve to ensure that their husband and father was buried with proper respect. For two days and nights, the eyes of Belfast, the rest of Ireland and beyond turned towards Ardoyne and to the bravery of the Marley family in the midst of their grief. That bravery inspired others. The number of mourners outside the Marley home grew and, at short notice, major demonstrations against the activities of the RUC and in support of the family were held in Andersonstown and Ardoyne itself.

Yet it was not until the actual funeral that the full measure of popular feeling could be properly gauged. Ignoring the vast array of plastic-bullet guns, helmets, armoured cars and rifles which are part and parcel of the machinery of repression seen at every republican funeral in recent years, the people came out in a spontaneous and moving gesture of solidarity and defiance.

Efforts by the RUC to impose its sectarian control over the funeral were frustrated by the sheer number of people, young and old, who turned out to join the procession or to line the route.

Nobody who has seen the television images of funerals in Soweto or other black South African townships could fail to make the comparison with events in Belfast this week.

The only difference is that in South Africa the Catholic hierarchy usually stands firmly on the side of the oppressed and not on the side of the oppressors.

Below is the documentary covering those events.

 

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