Remembering Sheena Campbell - 25 years on
Today marks the 25th anniversary of the murder of student Sheena Campbell by a loyalist death squad as she sat and drank with her friends in York Hotel (Madisons), just because of her association with Sinn Féin and the Irish republican struggle.
So foreign was the idea to these cowards that a well educated woman may be politically active and motivated by the republican movement. It’s clear that they were extremely intimidated by her high intelligence and also by the potential that she showed in both politics and law practice. The fact is, she was murdered because she was a woman; a woman who was a member of Sinn Féin. A very valued member at that. Sheena contributed a lot to the party, including the improvement of Sinn Féin’s approach to elections through her electoral strategy. As campaign manager in the by-election in Dungannon, she implemented this electoral strategy and helped elect Francie Molloy, further proving its effectiveness. There is no doubt about it that Sheena would be one of the leaders of this Party if she were still living.
I’m 24 years old, so I wasn’t born when Sheena was alive. However, she still inspires me to no end and she will always be a person that I admire. As a young Irish republican who is also from Upper Bann, I strive to be at least half the person that she was. Her passion for achieving equality on this island through republican politics is something I strongly identify with and it is part of the reason as to why I am involved in politics today. Sheena loved her community and remained active in community politics, even when she was busy with work with Sinn Féin, serving on the committee’s of numerous community groups, making sure her community was well represented. Her passion for looking after the people around her is an extremely admirable trait – she was beyond doubt, a brilliant person and activist. I am sad that she isn’t here to see how successful our Party has become and how it continues to grow all across the island of Ireland.
Despite being subject to harassment by the RUC and the British Army on numerous occasions, Sheena refused to shy away from her political views and aspirations; she would not be coaxed into silence. She was the epitome of what a strong woman is. I hope Sheena would be proud of all the amazing women in this party who continue to fight for equality on this island. I hope she would be proud that, like herself, we are extremely proud of who we are and where we come from – we are proud Irish republicans.
As a member of Sinn Féin Republican Youth, I feel it is my duty along with my comrades, to keep Sheena’s vision for Ireland alive through our activism. Sheena’s legacy runs on through our committee in Upper Bann and through the cumann at Queen’s University Belfast.
By Níamh Ní Chíosóg