Archive for May, 2006

Photo album

Posted in marcella on 30 May 2006 by micheailin

Note: If you recently tried to reach the photo collection and got a lot of tasteless ads, please try again. I was using a dot.tk domain, but there was not supposed to be any ads. I have changed the URL. Sorry.

Martin Hurson

Posted in marcella on 30 May 2006 by micheailin

Larkspirit

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MARTIN HURSON BEGINS HUNGER STRIKE – 29 MAY 1981

“On May 29th…Martin joined the hunger strike, replacing South Derryman Brendan McLoughlin who was forced to drop out because of a burst stomach ulcer.

In the Free State general election in June, Martin was a candidate in Longford/Westmeath, and although missing election, obtained almost four-and-a-half thousand first preference votes, and over a thousand transfers, before being eliminated at the end of the sixth count, outlasting two Labour candidates and a Fine Gael contender.”

>>>Read Martin’s biography

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Hunger Strike chronology

Posted in marcella on 30 May 2006 by micheailin

CAIN

**Apologies for posting this information late:

Image Hosted by ImageShack.usTuesday 26 May 1981

Brendan McLaughlin, who had joined the hunger strike on 14 May 1981, was taken off the strike when he suffered a perforated ulcer and internal bleeding. The Royal Ulster Constabulary (RUC) carried out a raid on the headquarters of the Ulster Defence Association (UDA) in Belfast and discovered a number of illegal weapons. [At this time the UDA, although a Loyalist paramilitary group, was still a legal organisation and was not ‘proscribed’ until 10 August 1992.]

Thursday 28 May 1981
**(Martin’s biographies put the date as 29 May)

Martin Hurson, an Irish Republican Army (IRA) prisoner in the Maze Prison, joined the hunger strike to replace Brendan McLaughlin who had been taken off the strike on 26 May 1981.

Margaret Thatcher, then British Prime Minister, paid a visit to Northern Ireland and made a statement indicating the British government’s belief that the hunger strike was the ‘last card’ of the IRA.

Friday 29 May 1981

The names of four prisoners on hunger strike together with five other Republican prisoners, were put forward as candidates in the forthcoming general election in the Republic of Ireland.

McCreesh and O’Hara die on the same day

Posted in marcella on 26 May 2006 by micheailin

An Phoblacht

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Photo: Raymond McCreesh mural unveiled in Camlough by Raymond’s former comrades Dan McGuinness and Paddy Quinn who were arrested and imprisoned with him.

Remembering 1981: Four men dead as crisis escalates

Thursday 21 May 1981 witnessed the deaths of two more Hunger Strikers. Raymond McCreesh passed away at 2.30am. Later that evening Patsy O’Hara died.

A Mass had been celebrated at Raymond McCreesh’s bedside on Wednesday evening by his brother Fr Brian McCreesh. He was semi-conscious and appeared to show some sign of recognition but died just a few hours later. His remains were returned to his beloved Camlough in South Armagh for the funeral the following Saturday.

Leaving the family home in St Malachy’s Terrace, the cortege stopped briefly at the lane outside the house where it was joined by a honour guard of IRA Volunteers, Cumann na mBan and Na Fianna Éireann. Led by a lone piper, the cortege paused to allow Raymond McCreesh’s comrades fire a final salute over the Tricolour-draped coffin.

At St Malachy’s church loudspeakers broadcast the Mass to a huge crowd of mourners. Mass was concelebrated by five priests led by Raymond’s brother Brian. In his sermon Fr Wolsey criticised the British for selectively quoting from the Pope’s 1979 Drogheda speech: “Violent means must not be used, the Pope says, to change injustices. But neither must violent means be used to keep injustices. The Pope has said so. The first passage has been over quoted; the second one rarely heard.”

After the Mass, the funeral procession made it’s way the short distance to the cemetery where, in sight of the family home the coffin was lowered into the grave. Chairing the graveside ceremonies was South Armagh republican, Joe McElhaw. Defying a British exclusion order Sinn Féin President Ruairí Ó Brádaigh delivered the oration. Paying tribute to McCreesh he said: “We are gathered here to perform a last, sad but proud duty for that great Irishman and human being, Raymond McCreesh.” He detailed McCreesh’s progression from Na Fianna Éireann to the IRA and his capture in 1976 after a gunbattle with the British army. He had fought imperialism, which was the “enemy of mankind”

Ó Brádaigh outlined the area’s proud history of resistance to British rule. He accused the British Government of callously murdering McCreesh and his comrades but added that British policy was now in ribbons. “Where now is their Ulsterisation? Where now was their normalisation? Where now is their criminalisation?”, he asked.

“These hungry and starving men in their beds of pain, by superior moral strength, have pushed the British government to the wall and have shamed them in the eyes of the world”, said Ó Brádaigh.

Comparing the Hunger Strikers to Terrence McSweeney, the Lord Mayor of Cork who died on Hunger Strike in 1921, he pledged republicans would continue their resistance to British rule.

Patsy O’Hara

Patsy O’Hara passed away at 11.39pm. By his bedside were his father James, his sister Elizabeth and family friend James Daly. Speaking of his final moments his sister said: “My Father called Patsy! And he sort of, as if he recognised the voice, sort of just tried to move his head, just one last time. And then he died. And as he was dying his face just changed, he had a very, very distinct smile on his face which I will never forget. I said you’re free Patsy. You have won your fight and you’re free. And he was cold then.”

Former leader of INLA prisoners in the H-Blocks, O’Hara came from a staunchly republican family and was much respected in his native Derry. The night of his death saw sustained rioting on the streets of Derry. The RUC replied with volleys of plastic bullets, murdering 45-year-old Harry Duffy in the process. Two days earlier they had murdered 12-year-old Carol Ann Kelly in Twinbrook..

Repeating their actions with the Francis Hughes cortege, the RUC hijacked O’Hara’s remains. Long Kesh Governor, Stanley Hilditch had informed the family that the remains had been taken to Omagh where they could be collected. About 4.30am the RUC phoned Derry with a message. “If you want to collect this thing you had better do it before daylight”. They were determined to prevent a daytime cortege. In a sickening development it emerged, after the body was finally retrieved by the grieving family, that the RUC ghouls had mutilated the body.

The funeral, the biggest in the city since the Bloody Sunday funerals, was addressed by a number of people. Chairing the proceedings was James Daly, husband of murdered anti-H-Block activist Miriam Daly. He offered his condolences to the family before introducing a member of the INLA leadership who read out a statement. Patsy’s brother Seán then addressed the mourners. He compared Charles Haughey to Pontius Pilate and said the Hunger Strikes were an important victory for the cause of Irish freedom as the whole world could now see the callousness of the British.

Gerry Roche of the IRSP detailed the harsh experiences, North and South, endured by O’Hara during his short life. Commending his revolutionary spirit Roche said the attempt to criminalise the prisoners was an attempt to criminalise the entire struggle. O’Hara had recognised this and had resisted courageously. “He believed that it is no crime to fight the British occupation forces, but the duty of every Irish man and Irish woman”, Roche said.

An INLA firing party fired a volley of shots over the coffin in a final salute to their dead comrade.

The deaths of McCreesh and O’Hara in the H-Blocks took place against an increasingly violent backdrop outside the prison. The IRA was mounting increasingly effective military operations against the British army with five British soldiers killed in an ambush at Altnaveigh, South Armagh.

Crown forces attempted to crush rising nationalist anger. In addition to the plastic bullet deaths of Carol Ann Kelly and Harry Duffy, there was a wave of indiscriminate plastic bullet attacks leaving hundreds injured, many of them seriously, including Paul Lavelle (15) from Ardoyne who was left in a coma.

The Hunger Strike was causing a huge outcry in the 26 Counties and Taoiseach Charles Haughey was forced to give the impression of doing something, particularly in light of an impending election on 11 June. He promoted as a serious initiative an intervention by the European Commission on Human Rights which amounted to nothing.

Just two days before her brother died, Haughey met with Patsy O’Hara’s sister Elizabeth, during which he gave the impression that a development involving Europe was imminent and asked her for a contact number at which she could be reached. The following morning she got a call summoning her to Government Buildings. Haughey was still pushing the Commission angle but told Elizabeth that Patsy would have to come off the Hunger Strike to give time for a complaint to be made to the Commission. It was clear at this point that the Commission was just a diversion. Elizabeth O’Hara broke off all contact with Haughey.

There was mounting anger on the streets in the 26 Counties. Although the H-Block committee was determinedly non-violent as a matter of strategy, there was a wave of incidents across the state such as the 23 May torching of a bus belonging to English fishermen in Ballinamore, County Leitrim. In a vain attempt to distract from the real issue a Government summit was called with much fanfare to discuss “escalating violence”.

A statement from the Catholic Cardinal, Tomás O Fiach said: “Raymond McCreesh was born in a community that has always proclaimed that it is Irish, not British. When the northern troubles began he was barely 12, a very impressionable age at which to learn discrimination. Those who protested against it were harassed and intimidated. Then followed Burntollet, The Bogside, Bombay Street and Bloody Sunday in Derry all before he was 15.” The Cardinal went on to say that McCreesh would never have been in jail had it not been for the abnormal political situation. “Who was entitled to judge him?”, he asked.

The 20 May local elections in the Six Counties saw a number of H-Block candidates elected. Amongst them was Raymond McCreesh’s brother, Oliver.

International support for the Hunger Strikers soared. There were daily demonstrations in the United States. Thousands marched in protest through New York on the Saturday after the deaths of McCreesh and O’Hara. Amongst the countries that saw demonstrations, many of them large, were Australia, Norway, Greece, France and Portugal.

The deaths of Raymond McCreesh and Patsy O’Hara, who had started the strike on the same day, died on the same day and were born within a fortnight of each other in February 1957, marked a critical escalation in prison struggle as well as the struggle outside the prisons walls.

Despite the constant rain and a blustery wind that dogged their steps on the road from Newry to Camlough thousands of republicans marched on Sunday 21 May, 2006 to remember IRA Volunteer Raymond McCreesh who died in 1981 after 61 days on hunger strike.

The march was lead by a colour party of former republican POWs from the South Armagh area. At the head of the flag bearers was Paddy Quinn and Dan McGuinness.

Both men were captured with Raymond McCreesh in 1976 as they mounted an operation against an undercover British army unit near Sturgan Road not far from Camlough, Raymond’s home village. Quinn was later to follow his friend and comrade on hunger strike.

A colour party from South Armagh Ógra Shinn Féin marched in formation behind the main colour party.

Sunday’s march was the culmination of a weekend of events organised in South Armagh to remember Raymond McCreesh’s sacrifice and celebrate his life and commitment to the republican cause.

On Friday a mural was unveiled on Raymond McCreesh’s House and a well attended discussion on the legacy of the Hunger Strike was held on Saturday night.

Panellists included Bik McFarlane, O/C of the H-Block prisoners during the Hunger Strike and former Sinn Féin Publicity Director Danny Morrison.

As the march set off from Newry the rain tried hard to dampen spirits but with every mile walked more people joined the procession.

Banners carried bore the names of towns and villages throughout South Down and South Armagh- Camlough, Silverbridge, Belleek, Bessbrook, Crossmaglen, Cullyhanna, Mullaghbawn. Newry was well represented with three banners named in honour of fallen IRA Volunteers from the area.

Monaghan, Armagh’s neighbour to the south, sent a contingent while the Harford/Bell Republican Flute Band from Dublin also attended.

In the crowd were members of the Hughes and McElwee families from Bellaghy. Bridie Lynch from Dungiven was there indicating the bond that exists among the families of the H-Block martyrs.

A commemoration was held at the Republican Plot in Camlough cemetery where Raymond McCreesh is buried. Sinn Féin President Gerry Adams gave the main oration. Acknowledging the courage and commitment of Raymond McCreesh he said it reflected the courage and commitment of the IRA in South Armagh in the way it fought the British army to a standstill in the area.

Adams went on to commend the work of republicans in South Armagh who had embraced the republican peace strategy and were working hard to fulfil the vision of the united Ireland for which Raymond McCreesh had died.

Tributes paid to 1981 hunger strikers McCreesh and O’Hara

Posted in marcella on 23 May 2006 by micheailin

Daily Ireland

22/05/2006

Image Hosted by ImageShack.usThousands defied wet conditions yesterday to attend hunger-strike commemorations for Camlough-born IRA man Raymond McCreesh and the Derry Irish National Liberation Army hunger striker Patsy O’Hara.
Both men died after 61 days on hunger strike on May 21, 1981. McCreesh was 24 and O’Hara was 23.
The crowds at the commemorations included former hunger strikers, members of the McCreesh and O’Hara families, Sinn Féin elected representatives and members of GAA clubs.
There was a march from Newry to St Malachy’s church in Camlough, Co Armagh, where McCreesh is buried. Fr Brian McCreesh, Raymond’s brother, celebrated a Mass in Camlough.
Sinn Féin president Gerry Adams gave the graveside oration.
He paid tribute to the family of Raymond McCreesh for their dignity and integrity as they carried the very personal pain of losing a son.
In Derry city, thousands of republicans remembered Patsy O’Hara.
His family watched as a monument and mural dedicated to the Derry man were unveiled near the original family home in the city’s Bishop Street.

Today in history: Kieran Doherty joins the hunger strike

Posted in marcella on 22 May 2006 by micheailin

CAIN

Friday 22 May 1981

Kieran Doherty, an Irish Republican Army (IRA) prisoner in the Maze Prison, joined the hunger strike.

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Click photo to view CRAZYFENIAN’s mural pic of ‘Kieran Doherty, Big Doc–one tough soldier’

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Irish Hunger Strike 1981 Website

Kieran Doherty

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A dedicated republican and an outstanding soldier

WHEN the family, friends and former comrades of Belfast IRA Volunteer twenty-five-year-old Kieran Doherty learnt that he was joining the H-Block hunger strike, as a replacement for Raymond McCreesh, it came as no surprise to them.

Although Kieran had spent seven of the last ten years imprisoned, his complete selflessness and his relentless dedication to the liberation struggle left no-one in any doubt that Kieran would volunteer for this terrible and lonely confrontation with British rule inside the H-Blocks of Long Kesh. Last December he was amongst those thirty prisoners who were on hunger strike for four days prior to the ending of the original seven-strong strike.

Kieran was born on October 16th, 1955 in Andersonstown, the third son in a family of six children. His two elder brothers, Michael, aged 28, and Terence, aged 27, were interned between 1972 and 1974.

>>Read on

IRA whistleblower faces hate campaign

Posted in marcella on 21 May 2006 by micheailin

Sunday Times

**Via Newshound

Carissa Casey
May 21, 2006

A FORMER republican prisoner who revealed that the IRA was offered a deal that could have saved the lives of at least six of the 1981 hunger strikers has been targeted by a graffiti attack near his home in west Belfast.

Richard O’Rawe said he had been the subject of a hate campaign by a small group of former IRA prisoners since the recent broadcast of an RTE documentary supporting his claims about the hunger strike. A wall near his home has been daubed with the slogan “Richard O’Rawe, H-Block Traitor” in red paint.

“Whoever wrote that would have been influenced by those who have been vilifying and demonising me,” O’Rawe said.

Two weeks ago, in a documentary to mark the 25th anniversary of Bobby Sands’s death, Denis Bradley, the former deputy chairman of the Northern Ireland Policing Board, said he believed the British government had offered a deal to the hunger strikers after three or four of them had died. Bradley said the deal offered was similar to the one that was eventually accepted.

O’Rawe says that since he published a book making similar claims last year, he has been ostracised by former friends. But the attacks have become more ominous since the documentary. “There had been a swing towards me, backing up the veracity of what I’m saying in my book. Then the assaults came like a wave for the best part of two weeks — verbal and written assaults in the media,” he said.

In his book, O’Rawe said he and Brendan “Bik” McFarlane, the IRA prisoners’ commanding officer, accepted concessions offered by the Foreign Office on July 5, 1981 before Joe McDonnell, the fifth hunger striker, died. O’Rawe claims that the IRA army council rejected the deal.

At the time Owen Carron, a Sinn Fein candidate, was contesting a by-election for the Fermanagh/South Tyrone seat left vacant a few months earlier by Sands’s death.

O’Rawe’s claims have been disputed by several former ex-prisoners including McFarlane, who says no offer was made.

O’Rawe, who grew up on the Falls Road, says he now lives an isolated existence. “Guys I have known all my life walk by me. I have learnt not to say hello to people unless they say hello to me. People I used to drink with before don’t want me in their company because they don’t feel comfortable with me. There’s a feeling I’ve broken with the leadership.”

O’Rawe describes himself as a committed republican. “I think Gerry Adams is owed a huge debt. I don’t think anyone other than Adams could have brought an end to an unwinnable war and kept republican communities united. But six of my comrades died that should not have, and it’s important the truth comes out warts and all.

“The thing that gets me is that there are republicans out there who are saying, ‘O’Rawe’s right’, but rather than stand up and ask questions they’d prefer to attack me. It’s almost as if it’s okay that the leadership in 1981 let six men die to get Carron elected. I find that absolutely atrocious.”

O’Rawe considered moving away but decided against it. He is writing a novel about Al-Qaeda.

An all-party committee is likely to be established at Stormont this week to examine what issues are preventing the restoration of devolution.

A motion to establish the committee is set to be tabled on Tuesday by Sir Reg Empey, the Ulster Unionist leader, after the expected failure to elect a first minister and deputy.

The committee would have two members from each of the main unionist and nationalist parties, and one from the alliance.

The SDLP is in favour of the idea, depending on the terms of its remit. The DUP has also expressed interest, while Sinn Fein says it will support the proposal if the committee is given sufficient substance.

Empey’s move follows dissent within his party over its alliance with David Ervine, leader of the Progressive Unionist party, the political wing of the Ulster Volunteer Force.