A large number of people from Counties Mayo, Galway, Sligo and further afield came to the Deanwood Hotel in Ballina on Friday 9 June to hear Gerry Kerry, senior Sinn Féin negotiatior and Assembly member for North Belfast, deliver the annual Volunteer Michael Gaughan Memorial Lecture.
The lecture was organised by the Gaughan/Stagg Sinn Féin cumann in Ballina and is held on a yearly basis in memory of Gaughan, the young man from Healy Terrace who died in Parkhurst Prison, England in June 1974 after being brutally force-fed whilst on hunger strike. He was 24 years old.
Gerry Kelly was himself a political prisoner in England during the same period as Michael Gaughan and the two men were on hunger strike at the same time, albeit in different prisons.
Kelly spoke of the brutality of force-feeding, a practice that had been outlawed in Ireland in 1917 after the death of Terence MacSweeney.
``People like Michael Gaughan and Frank Stagg were ordinary people who found themselves in extra-ordinary circumstances and their courage and determination should be an inspiration to everyone during the present phase of the struggle for Irish freedom,'' said Kelly.
After the main lecture there was a lively question and answer session.