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Nelson McCausland: Why sculptor of an IRA memorial who worshipped Hitler tells you all you need to know about SF



The memorial in Crossmaglen designed by Yann Goulet

The memorial in Crossmaglen designed by Yann Goulet

Megan Fearon

Megan Fearon


The memorial in Crossmaglen designed by Yann Goulet

This weekend, Sinn Fein, on both sides of the border, will be commemorating and celebrating the 1916 Easter Rising. They will also be using the opportunity to promote their party in the lead-up to the forthcoming local government elections and a European election.

Saturday, Sunday and Monday will be busy days for Sinn Fein and nowhere more than in the constituency of Newry and Armagh, where there is a packed programme of 11 events at venues across the area.

The Easter Sunday programme starts at 9.15am in Crossmaglen, with republicans assembling at the Rangers Hall. From there, they make their way round the square in the centre of Crossmaglen before making their way to a republican grave at St Patrick's Church. There the speaker will be the youngest Sinn Fein MLA, Megan Fearon.

She is one of the new faces of Sinn Fein and, earlier this week, she tweeted that folk should ensure they get a copy of the latest issue of the Sinn Fein paper, An Phoblacht, to which she has contributed articles on climate change and feminism.

Gone are the days when republicans were contributing to global warning by burning factories, cars and buses across Northern Ireland.

Now that may sound very forward-looking, but Sinn Fein is always two-faced - and there is always one face looking back at the past.

That is why the parade on Easter Sunday has to go round the square in Crossmaglen, a square that is dominated by a republican memorial.

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Sinn Fein's Conor Murphy once suggested that the memorial was a tourist attraction. But anyone who knows the story behind the memorial would know that it should be a source of shame to Sinn Fein.

The sculptor was Yann Goulet, who was born in Brittany and was a passionate Breton nationalist.

Before the Second World War, he was a member of the Breton National Party, which was modelled on Sinn Fein, and during the war he joined the assault section of Bagadou Stourm, Breton nationalist Stormtroopers who were allied to the Nazis.

He collaborated with a pro-Nazi newspaper and eventually became head of Bagadou Stourm.

After the war, he escaped to the Irish Republic on a false passport, but was tried in France, in his absence, and found guilty of collaborating with the Nazis. Nevertheless, he was able to stay in the Republic and was protected as part of the Irish cultural establishment.

Goulet was an ardent Irish nationalist, who spoke at Sinn Fein conferences, and the Crossmaglen memorial is just one of several pieces he designed.

Indeed, he went on to play a much more deadly role for the Provisional IRA in establishing the initial contacts between the Provisional IRA and Colonel Gaddafi in Libya.

Goulet opened the door for Joe Cahill and, thereby, helped to establish the biggest source of weaponry for IRA terrorists.

After marching through the square, the Sinn Fein supporters will make their way to St Patrick's Catholic Church and the grave of IRA volunteer Barney Morris.

Last year, the programme in the church graveyard included an IRA re-enactment, with republicans dressed in period coats and cloth caps and carrying replica rifles, all in the shadow of the church.

I am sure that many Catholic people will be appalled to see Church property used for such a glorification of terrorism, but I doubt very much if Sinn Fein will really care. Such events, which honour the Provisional IRA as well as 1916 rebels and the old IRA, are part of the annual calendar of republican commemorations which help to keep alive this affection for and affinity to the IRA.

So, on Sunday morning, once again, Sinn Fein politicians and supporters will march through Crossmaglen, past an IRA memorial which was the handiwork of a Nazi collaborator, who assisted in arming the Provisional IRA. After that, they will gather for the traditional ceremony and listen to this year's Sinn Fein speaker, Megan Fearon.

I don't know what she will say, but I suspect she will omit any reference to the Nazi collaborator who provided them with their memorial and helped to arm the Provos.

Of course, that won't be a problem, because Sinn Fein are experts at rewriting history.

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