International solidarity as hunger strike anniversary marked
International solidarity as hunger strike anniversary marked


Sinn Fein have marked the 35th anniversary of the hunger strikes with a march involving thousands of activists in west Belfast.

The Belfast National Hunger Strike Commemoration Committee march was attended by Sinn Fein supporters from across Ireland who made their way from Divis Street to the Falls Park in west Belfast.

They recalled the ten republicans who died in the H-Blocks after they refused food as part of a campaign to force the British government to give them political status.

The parade was led by symbolic ‘Blanketmen’ -- protesting republican prisoners who refused to wear prison uniforms -- a colour party and guard of honour made up of former POWs. At intervals there was the banging of bin lids, recalling the traditional warning alarm of the republican communities in the North.

At the rally in Dunville Park, biographies of the hunger strike martyrs were read out. Among those who spoke at the event was Stormont junior minister and assembly member for Newry and Armagh Meagan Fearon.

“Young people have always been catalysts for change around the world and to the forefront of our struggle at home,” she said. “This is true even today, as we stand here together on this stage, honouring their memory, and proudly carrying on their legacy.” She said the men “went to their deaths as a cruel British Government looked on” - and described the hunger strikers as “our proudest sons”.

Derry and Strabane councillor Elisha McCallion, who was born a year after the hunger strike ended, also spoke.

“Thirty five years ago the hunger strikes caught the attention of the world and catapulted our struggle forward,” she said. “Today we can take on their mantle and continue their task to build a new Ireland. Let this generation be the generation that delivers Irish unity.”

A vigil is taking place today, Saturday, outside Costello House on the Falls Road in Belfast in remembrance of the 35th anniversary of INLA Hunger Strike Martyr Michael Devine, who was the last of the hunger strikers to die. Tomorrow, Sunday, also sees the National Hunger Strike 35th Anniversary Commemoration organised by the Irish Republican Socialist Party in Derry.


Meanwhile, a number of vigils and protests are taking place in Ireland in support of Palestinian hunger striker Bilal Kayed, with one planned for this afternoon outside the Israeli Embassy in Dublin.

Kayed who is now in his 67th day of hunger strike while being held under administrative detention by Israeli authorities.

Sinn Fein representatives Fra McCann and Senator Paul Gavan arrived in the occupied West Bank on Sunday evening and met with his lawyers of Palestinian hunger striker Bilal Kayed.

McCann said: “Bilal’s health is a cause of major concern at this point. He is currently shackled by hand and foot to a hospital bed in what is an appalling assault to human dignity. The Israeli authorities must take immediate steps to release Bilal from what is effectively internment without trial.”

Senator Gavan added: “This isn’t just about Bilal Kayed - there are currently 750 Palestinian prisoners, including eight children, being held under so called ‘administrative detention’ which is completely contrary to the principles of natural justice.”

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