Tributes to hunger strikers on 40th anniversary

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The Irish National Liberation Army performed a gun salute to hunger striker Patsy O’Hara with a volley of shots close to his family home in the Bishop Street area of Derry last weekend.

INLA Volunteer Patsy O’Hara was the third of 10 prisoners to die in the 1981 hunger strike. He died after 61 days.

Following an oration and the unveiling of a highly praised new mural in his home city, a colour party consisting of up to 15 Volunteers marched to a position in front of the mural.

Raising their guns on command, a number of shots were fired into the air. The colour party were then led away, concluding the event, to the applause of those gathered.

Meanwhile, a small wreath-laying took place in Camlough in honour of Raymond McCreesh, the IRA hunger striker who died the same day, also after a fast of 61 days.

Padraig Mac Coitir of Lasair Dhearg, who organised the tribute last weekend, recalled his time as a fellow republican prisoner with the Armagh man.

“I got to know Raymond better when we were on the blanket and no-wash protest in H-5. He was a couple of cells up from me and because it was close we didn’t have to shout.

“Although times were very harsh with the screws brutalising us there were many occasions when we’d all have a bit of craic with sing-songs, quizzes and slagging.”

He noted the McCreesh house beside the graveyard in the village: “I can just imagine what it was like as the family went to the front door and looked over at Raymond’s grave and remembered a brave fella who died this day 1981.”

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