IRSP mark hunger strike anniversary

Around 400 people took part in a commemoration march on Saturday to mark the 30th anniversary of the death of Derry hunger striker Patsy O’Hara.

The march began at the bottom of Bishop Street, close to where Patsy O’Hara grew up, and made its way to the Brandywell to the monument for the city’s other INLA hunger striker, Mickey Devine, before continuing to the republican socialist plot in the City Cemetery for the commemoration event.

It was led by a colour party of men and women dressed in paramilitary-style uniforms wearing black berets and sunglasses, followed by a group carrying pictures of each of the ten hunger strikers who died in 1981.

Peggy O’Hara, mother of the hunger striker, also attended the commemoration at the City Cemetery and watched the event from a parked car.

The commemoration was chaired by the IRSP’s Peter O’Hagan, who introduced Eoin Campbell to read the names of the 1981 hunger strikers.

A number of wreaths were then laid at the monument on behalf of the Derry brigade of the INLA, the IRSP, and the 32 County Sovereignty Movement.

Lucy Callaghan, who stood as an IRSP candidate in the recent local government elections, gave the main oration at the commemoration.

In her speech she praised the bravery of the hunger strikers and said they continue to provide an inspiration today.

“These men were the bravest of the brave and the strongest of the strong. In the hellhole of Long Kesh these men had no weapons to fight the British but they stood together as one and faced down the sectarian system that ran the prison.

“When Patsy died the British brutalised his body.

“These people had no morals and no honour. It is the same enemy which holds Marian Price in prison and we would like to extend our solidarity to Marian.

“Sadly the ideals and objectives of the men of 1981 have not yet been realised. What they did achieve was the defeat of attempts to criminalise the republican struggle. Progress has been made but not enough. Too many people are still without a job or a home,” she said.

Ms Callaghan also said she does not believe republicans should use violence at the present time.

“It is clear that the only road is a political road but we cannot and will not condemn any group using armed actions. The road for us is building a class consciousness,” she said.

The 25 year-old also said the legacy of the hunger strike is as important today as it was 30 years ago.

“I was not born in 1981 but I have spoken and listened to many people who were central to the hunger strike. I am in awe of what they went through. I have spoken to Peggy O’Hara about what she went through and I can’t be anything but overwhelmed,” she said.

The commemoration ended with the Irish National Anthem.

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© 2011 Irish Republican News