July Events

7th – 10th July – Rodaí Mac Corlai Clubrooms, Glen Rd, Belfast – National Exhibition


8th July (Fri) – Carnlough, Co. Antrim – Harbourside, 6pm – Vigil for Joe McDonnell – Peadar Whelan


8th July (Fri) – Dublin – 4pm Mass, The Oratory, Blanchardstown followed by a black flag march to Mountainview Garden Centre, tree planting ceremony and plaque unveiling for Joe McDonnell. Main speaker Micheál Colreavey TD


8th July (Fri) – Hunger strike monument, Glencar, Letterkenny, Co. Donegal – 8pm – Wreath-laying ceremony for Joe McDonnell. Main speaker ex-POW Gerry McConville, & local speaker


10th July (Sun) – March from Horn Drive, Lenadoon, to Rodaí Mac Corlaí clubrooms  – Joe McDonnell commemoration. Main speaker, Gerry Kelly MLA


11th July (Mon) – The Plaza, Main St. Buncrana, Co. Donegal – 4pm. National Exhibition followed at 7.30 pm by panel discussion. Speakers: Raymond McCartney MLA, ex-hunger striker; Cllr Kevin Campbel,l ex-H-Block protesting prisoner and Deputy Mayor Derry City; Mary Nelis, mother of two H-Block protesting prisoners and founding member of the Relatives Action Committee Derry; and Marie Doherty, ex-Armagh Gaol protesting prisoner


12th July (Tues) – Gallbally Community Centre, East Tyrone – 10.30am. – National Exhibition


13th July (Wed) – March and commemoration for Martin Hurson. Assemble Galbally Community Centre 6pm, march to the Cappagh Memorial, Galbally. Main speaker Tom Hartley


Dublin, 13th July, 7.30pm,Wynn’s Hotel, Abbey Street
‘The legacy of republicanism and how it has impacted on us today’. Speakers – Pearse Doherty TD, James Connolly (grandson of James Connolly) and Séanna Walsh, former O/C H-Blocks, Long Kesh. For further information contact Donnchadh Ó Laoghaire (+868819653).


16th July (Fri) – Millenium Centre, Loughuile, North Antrim – National Exhibition


17th July (Sat) – Drumkeeran Community Centre, Leitrim – National Exhibition – followed by social event and music –  Forde’s Inn, Drumkeeran, Leitrim


19th and 20th July (Mon/Tues) – Carrickmacross Workhouse, Monaghan – National Exhibition


24th July (Sun) 3pm. – Hunger Strike memorial, Lanesborough, Co. Longford. – March to memorial and commemoration for Martin Hurson. Main speaker, Junior Minister Martina Anderson MLA


Dungarvan – Armagh/H-Block Committee – 1981 Hunger Strike 30th Commemoration…

Friday July 22nd – Sunday July 24th : opening of weekend at 7pm in Lawlor’s Hotel, Bridge St, Dungarvan, Co Waterford, by Pearse Doherty TD & Dungarvan Mayor Councillor Teresa Wright. Hunger Strike Exhibition opened to all on Friday night after official opening until 10pm. Admission free

Saturday 23rd – GAA underage hurling blitz in Bushy Park, Dungarvan – Kevin Lynch Cup 11am – 1pm, Teams from across the country playing  – Cup presentation approximately 2.30pm. Admission Free

Saturday Main Event – The Legacy of 81’ – Guest speakers & audience discussion/debate in Lawlor’s Hotel. Morning & Afternoon sessions 11am-1pm and 2pm-4pm. Speakers include: Martin Coffey – local historian on the History of Republican hunger strikers 1900-1985; Belfast Councillor Jim (Flash) McVeigh – Former political prisoner & the last Officer Commanding in Long Kesh on From the Kesh to Government Buildings; Fr Joe Mc Veigh – Ex-prison chaplin; Cyril McCurtain – former political prisoner & Bobby Sands cell mate on Characters & Comrades; Councillor Toiréasa Ferris on The Legacy of ’81 & guest speakers

Hunger Strike Exhibition on display in Lawlor’s Saturday, 11am – 6pm. Admission Free

Music night Saturday in Lawlors with five-piece republican band Clann Na hEireann. €10 ticket combines entrance to music on Saturday and also admission to ‘H3’ film

Sunday 24th – 7pm screening of ‘H3’ in the Park Hotel, Dungarvan, followed by Q & A session with ‘H3’ film producer and former hunger striker Laurence McKeown. €10 Ticket combines admission to H3 and entrance to music night

Lawlors Hotel contact 058 41122 for special accommodation rates / & €10 tickets

Lawlors Hotel WEB: www.lawlorshoteldungarvan.com

Ticket Hotline: 087 2614418. Find us on Facebook :- http://www.facebook.com/home.php#!/pages/H-Block-Waterford/195499033820570

28/29 July (Thurs/Fri) – Coláiste Feirste, Bóthar na bhFál, Beal Feirste – National Exhibition


London Conference

A conference was recently held in London to mark the 30th anniversary of the hunger strike. Describing the day’s highly successful events, Jayne Fisher reports.

A fitting and poignant event to mark what was `one of the most heroic chapters in human history’ took place last Saturday, 18 June, in London. Opening the event with these words from Fidel Castro at the time of the 1981 Hunger Strike, more than 300 people packed into the London Irish Centre to listen to speakers, in what was a moving day of both testimony and political analysis of what was a key turning point.

The event was organised to mark the 30th Anniversary and to put the Hunger Strike in its wider political context. Organisers introduced the day, commenting that the Hunger Strike was not only a turning point in Irish history, and in the struggle for Irish freedom, it was one of the most important and courageous struggles to have taken place anywhere in history, anywhere in the world.

The conference, with a wide range of speakers from Ireland and internationally, looked at how the events unfolded, how they shone an international spotlight on the conflict in Ireland and shaped the political developments for decades to come.

The opening speaker, Brendan  `Bik’ McFarlane, as the Officer Commanding of the IRA prisoners in Long Kesh during the Hunger Strike, gave a moving and a unique and detailed insight into what happened within the jail. Setting the tone for the day, Bik outlined the stakes involved, and how there was a clear political understanding of what was necessary. It was clear that the British government’s `criminalisation’ policy was central to their whole strategy overall; by criminalising the prisoners the whole struggle became criminalised and so the stakes for both the British government and Irish republicans were immense. Ultimately the British government were defeated, but this took the lives of ten men in the course of the struggle. He also spoke of the importance of the families, the quiet dignity and strength, in the face of immense pressure. During his detailed and extraordinary account of what took place, the audience sat in rapt silence, many near to tears and struck by the magnitude and heroism of those involved, and with a feeling that this was indeed a unique and privileged occasion to hear so directly about such a key moment in history.

Sinn Fein MEP Bairbre de Brun spoke about the development of the solidarity movement outside the prison, from her own involvement in the anti-H Block/Armagh Committee. With clear points to be drawn on for today, she outlined how a huge coalition developed, based on the simple demand of supporting those who wanted the inhuman condition of the prisoners to end, around their struggle. Developing a broad basis for the campaign, she related how this mass movement was possible to develop in a way not seen before. She pointed to the huge upturn in protest activity on the streets, and how it was met with violence from the British state, such as the use of 16,500 plastic bullets in just one month.

Former Labour MP Kevin McNamara analysed how the Hunger Strike impacted in within the British State, and how there were some voices, like his own, who refused to go along with the British imperialist agenda, against those like Don Concannon and Merlyn Rees, in the discussions at the time. His comments also revealed how leading politicians – including in the south of Ireland – were clearly affected by the mass mobilisations.

Writer and journalist, and current lecturer at City University, Roy Greenslade, spoke about the lies told in large sections of the British media about the Hunger Strike at the time, which was all a part of the propaganda war to attempt to defeat what was happening. He also pointed that such misinformation still prevails today, with a concerted and right wing campaign prevalent in many comment debates online. He urged people to challenge this aspect, and writing on the eve of the conference in the Guardian [link] Roy’s detailed proved an invaluable element of the day.

US-based academic and writer Professor Christine Kinealy gave a factual analysis of the events leading up to and after 1981, and also pointed out how the subsequent rise of Sinn Fein and the peace process underlined how the magnitude of the Hunger Strikes was greater than anyone could have envisaged at the time.

How 1981 shook the world, and the international impact of the Hungers strike in breaking the isolation of the prisoners, formed the theme of the second panel discussion.

Legendary leader of the struggle to defeat apartheid, Ronnie Kasrils gave an inspiring and incisive account of how the South African movement learned from the Irish struggle and vice versa. Quoting James Connolly on `Cause of Ireland is the cause of Labour and the cause of Labour is the cause of Ireland’ he argued that the national and social struggles were indivisible. He spoke of the worldwide struggle against imperialism and how alliances and common links were absolutely vital.

Former French MEP Francis Wurtz, who chartered a plane to travel to Belfast to attend Bobby Sands’ funeral, related the impact across Europe, which along with the wider international impact, helped overcome the idea that the prisoners were isolated. In fact it was the Thatcher government which became isolated and hated for its actions.

Writer and activist on Palestine and the Middle East, Kevin Ovenden, related how the whole of the Arab world was inspired by the hunger strike and the influence that it had. He said that leading figures today spoke about how inspirational the Hunger Strikes were. He spoke of how the unity of prisoners could be a unifying factor in the wider struggle and how the issue of human rights for prisoners could bring a wider interest and support.

From the chair Jeremy Corbyn MP spoke of the lasting legacy of the Hunger Strike and how relevant many issues remained, with strong resonances to some of today’s international struggles, in Palestine and elsewhere in the world.

In the final panel of speakers, Sinn Fein’s chief whip in the Assembly, and former political prisoner and friend of Bobby Sands, Jennifer McCann spoke of the role of women in what was a dual struggle, and how strongly interconnected the men and women involved were at the time. She also remarked that, like herself, Bobby was elected by the people, as the MP for Fermanagh & south Tyrone, and yet the British government still allowed him to die. Bobby’s election to Westminster, she said, and that of two of his comrades to the Irish parliament, marked a sea change in how Irish republicans looked at elections, and their potential, and could be seen as a catalyst for Sinn Fein’s electoral intervention the following year, 1982, and since. She also brought the discussions up to the present day, outlining the development of Sinn Fein’s political strategy and pointing to the growing strength and dynamic towards Irish unity – economic, social and political.

The final speaker was Tony Benn, who spoke of how it was necessary to see the Irish struggle for self determination not simply as a small isolated fight, but as part of a huge and general struggle against colonialism worldwide. He said this was not the case of a small band fighting a bigger monster, but a world-wide anti-colonial struggle. He pointed to the rise of Sinn Fein, the advancement of the cause of Irish unity and of his own conviction that Irish reunification would happen, it was only a question of how soon.

In summary, Stephen Bell in the chair said that the day had underlined the need for the Irish community, and others within Britain to do all possible to continue to support Irish unity. He said the best way to honour the Hunger Strikers was to contribute to this same struggle today. The initiative to open up the debate on Irish unity, to put this on the agenda, would continue he said, and urged people to take part. Film of the speakers will soon be available via youtube for those who missed it.

London Conference

The 30th anniversary of the 1981 Hunger Strike, in which ten men died in the struggle for political status, shone an international spotlight on the conflict in Ireland and irreversibly shaped the political developments for decades to come.

‘The hunger strike shaped the course of Irish politics. Bobby Sand’s election in Fermanagh South Tyrone in the Westminster election of April 1981, and of Kieran Doherty in Cavan Monaghan and Paddy Agnew in Louth in the June 1981 general election in the south, were watershed moments.

It has needed the intervening decades to understand the extent to which the courage and sacrifices of the ten men who died on hunger strike changed modern Irish history.’ – Gerry Adams TD, President Sinn Féin

This year, as part of events to mark this watershed moment in Ireland, Britain and more widely around the world, Sinn Féin will host a conference in London to discuss the legacy of the hunger strike and lessons for today. With leading figures from Ireland and internationally, including those involved in the struggle at the time, former prisoners, political activists, writers and documentors of events, the conference will be a key opportunity to look at this critical moment in history, mark developments in the intervening three decades and draw lessons and inspiration for today. As the current political process in the north moves forward, alongside the

continuing debate around Irish unity, the conference comes at an important

juncture, as the relationship between Britain and Ireland enters a new phase.

REGISTRATION: £5 waged £3 unwaged (payable to ‘1981 June Conference’)

POST: PO Box 65845, London EC1P 1LS

EMAIL: london1981conference@yahoo.co.uk

STALLS available (£20)