Much of the international reportage of 29-year-old Lyra McKee’s murder centred on descriptions of her as a ‘ceasefire baby’, a woman whose early years were brightened by what was promised to be peace during the post-Belfast Agreement period when the IRA movement was supposed to end all hostilities.
Much of the international reportage of 42-year-old Thomas Ashe Mellon has centred on his leadership of the IRA in Derry, one of whose members shot and killed Lyra McKee.
What kind of baby description can we apply to Thomas Ashe Mellon?
For people not raised in Irish republican necrology, the Christian names ‘Thomas Ashe’ might not be immediately recognisable.
Thomas Ashe was a hero of the 1916 Easter Rebellion in Dublin, who led the most successful Irish Volunteers’ unit in Ashbourne which killed a total of 11 RIC members, including County Inspector Alexander Gray.
Ordered to surrender later, he and Eamon de Valera were court-martialled and sentenced to death, but their death sentences were commuted to life imprisonment and within a year they were released in a general amnesty granted by Lloyd George.
Within a matter of weeks, Thomas Ashe was re-arrested for giving a seditious speech and while imprisoned, went on hunger-strike for POW status and died after a session of brutal forced feeding.
His funeral was an orgy of nationalistic fervour and 30,000 people filed past his open coffin in Dublin to view his remains decked out in Irish Volunteer uniform.
A horribly maudlin poem he had written while in prison in England was printed and popularly distributed entitled, “Let me carry your cross for Ireland, Lord”, verses which led to possibly the largest and most ridiculous IRA monument in Ireland at Ashbourne depicting – on one side, an IRA volunteer carrying a large cross and – on the other side – Jesus Christ carrying the same cross…
Within a year of Thomas Ashe’s death, a baby was born in Derry city and was named Thomas Ashe Mellon – the grandfather of our Thomas Ashe Mellon.
Thomas Ashe Mellon I, born in 1918, went on to become a noted Derry republican, was interned for 4 years in the 1940s, was interned again for a further 4 years in the 1950s and, after a spell working in the United States, returned to Derry and became a pillar of the Republican Movement and of the GAA.
Thomas Ashe Mellon I had a son whom he named Thomas Ashe Mellon, whom we shall call Thomas Ashe Mellon II – (uncle of our Thomas Ashe Mellon III).
Thomas Ashe Mellon II grew up to become, in the 1970s, the O.C. of the Derry Brigade of the IRA and during all the years that the press was recording Martin McGuinness as O.C. it was in fact Tommy Mellon II who was the Derry Brigade O.C.
During the 1975 IRA Ceasefire, most of the Derry Brigade IRA leadership played a football game in the Brandywell and had a rare picture taken to record the moment, with Thomas Ashe Mellon II offering a rare smile, at rear, second from the right.
[For the record, from the left back row: John Coyle, Mickey Deery, Terry Crossan, The Writer, Peter Anderson, Bobby Sheerin, Thomas Ashe Mellon, Stevie Stewart. Front row from left: ‘LT’ Willie Taylor, ‘Ducksie’ Doherty, Martin McGuinness, Frankie McFeely, ‘Atsy’ Edgar.]
Thomas Ashe II, an independent plumbing contractor, was well-known to Derry folk as the Derry Brigade O.C. but he avoided photographs and publicity and from time to time dressed as a Catholic priest to move around undetected, the priestly garments supplied by an equally-girthed retired priest living on Elmwood Terrace.
Thomas Ashe II was and remains a dour character. Often when I, as one of many teenage IRA volunteers, entered a room, he would mutter “Here comes the font of useless knowledge” which was Tommy II’s opinion of lads like me who attended St. Columb’s College. I have often wondered if he was right.
But don’t be fooled – Thomas Ashe Mellon II had what blow-in to the republican movement Martin McGuinness never had – republican pedigree going back a long ways and principles to boot.
Tommy’s dour instinct would have regarded the publicity-seeking and Johnny-come-lately skin-deep ‘republican’ McGuinness as someone likely to accept a pragmatic deal in the end – along with The Queen’s Shilling – and he was right.
Martin McGuinness and pals sold out the old republican principles and stuffed their pockets with not only the Queen’s shillings, but with suitcases of the Queen’s mi££ions, recognising not only the partitionist Irish parliament (the Dáil) but also the hated partitionist Stormont parliament.
Thomas Mellon II and other leading Derry republicans (many of them in the picture above) fell out with McGuinness and never spoke to him thereafter.
Turning to the august columns of The Irish Times, June 16, 2012 for an obituary of Derry republican and anti-RAAD activist, Brian McFadden, readers should note a comment buried in the piece:
“… nobody accused him of taking a political stance because he would materially gain from it.”
This is the nub of the rub for many of the IRA members now opposing the Gerry Adams/Martin McGuinness cult – the latter have feathered their own nests from the conflict and become rich on the back of the struggle to enter – Stormont.
One ‘republican’ in Derry is widely believed – rightly or wrongly – to have amassed a property portfolio of 46 houses at last count.
Thomas Mellon II had a younger brother, Stephen Mellon, who joined the IRA in 1971.
Stevie and I were good friends then even though he was a mature 18 years old working lad and I was a rather immature 16 years old St. Columb’s college boy. We collected and ferried weapons, ammunition and monies into Derry for a time from Fianna Fáil politicians and business persons in Donegal.
We planted bombs in the city centre.
One evening in September 1971 after I had left Carlin’s house in Central Drive, Creggan, carrying a duffel bag bomb to plant at a bank miles away in Pennyburn, Stevie was working on a bomb when the detonator exploded and blew out one of his eyes. If the detonator had been in the explosive charge, the premature explosion would have killed everyone in Carlin’s house and the neighbours as well.
Stevie disappeared to the Republic of Ireland for treatment and shortly after his return to Derry he was arrested and interned without trial.
After his release, he fathered a son whom he named Thomas Ashe Mellon III whose future was already – we now know – entwined with that of Lyra McKee.
Stevie Mellon passed away in August of 2018 and was given a paramilitary funeral.
Thomas Ashe Mellon III was born in 1977 into a household composed largely of irredentist, unashamed and unrepentant IRA glorifiers – grandfather, uncle and father – and this purified republicanism was transmitted to this child in his mother’s milk.
Martin McGuinness made headlines in 1972 when he and Joseph McCallion, Derry Brigade QM, were arrested on the Donegal border close to a car load of explosives and ammunition. It was after this arrest that McGuinness made the blow-hard claim in a Dublin court that he was a “proud IRA member”.
Thomas Ashe Mellon III made headlines in 1999/2000 when he was similarly arrested on the Donegal border in a car loaded with explosives.
Since then, Thomas Ashe Mellon III’s rap sheet contains impeding the apprehension of an offender following a bank robbery, arrest for suspected involvement in a failed mortar attack in Derry, attempting to smuggle a ‘comm’ into Maghaberry prison and taking part in an illegal parade.
He has beaten the rap on membership of the IRA and directing terrorism but has lately been described as ultimately responsible for the shooting murder of Lyra McKee.
Like McGuinness, he doesn’t speak a word of paramilitary Irish.
He is – according to everything the IRA movement’s leaders Martin McGuinness and Gerry Adams have demanded of young men for three decades – the perfect model of an IRA volunteer.
McGuinness in 1972 dismissed the IRA murder of 14 year old Kathleen Feeney in the Brandywell, put out a statement that ‘the Brits’ had shot her, claimed the IRA had then shot ‘the Brit’ who shot her – told a bombful of lies to Derry people who lapped them up even after a local teenage IRA volunteer was arrested and confessed to shooting Kathleen.
McGuinness (and heroic pals) went on to murder and command the murders of 1,700 more people in the bloody march toward Stormont, after which church, state and voters lapped him up.
My fellow Derry folk – lend me your ears – ye who regularly vote for IRA murderers – and ye respected community leaders – Bishop McKeown, Fr. Canny, Rev. Latimer, Archbishop Eamon Martin – here I present to you today’s embarrassment and tomorrow’s hero – I give you the New Martin McGuinness – Thomas Ashe Mellon III – Deputy First Minister and Presidential Candidate in 2040.
I also give you the Catholic church romancing the IRA: