Today, in Galbally, republicans gathered for a wreath-laying ceremony at the grave of 24-year-old Martin Hurson, an IRA Volunteer who died in the 1981 hunger strike after forty-six days without food.
The event followed a similar ceremony last Sunday, also on the 35th anniversary of the death on hunger strike of Joe McDonnell (8th July), Martin’s comrade, in the H-Blocks of Long Kesh. At that event, attended by Goretti, Joe’s wife, and Joe’s brothers and sisters, nephews and nieces, Sinn Féin MLA Alex Maskey, himself an ex-prisoner and comrade of Joe’s gave the oration and spoke about Joe McDonnell, ‘the man’, and how at an event a few nights earlier great memories about Joe were recalled by his friends and comrades.
All ten of the H-Block hunger strikers will be honoured in a march and rally in West Belfast on Sunday, 14th August.
The oration in Galbally was given by veteran republican Sean Hughes from South Armagh who paid tribute to the sacrifices made by Martin Hurson and his imprisoned comrades.
He said: “It is difficult to do justice to the memory of those who died on hunger strike. For those who were close to the prisoners and their families there remains a raw, emotional wound. Their names are inscribed on the pages of Irish history and their sacrifice is an inspiration to freedom-loving people all over the world.”
Sean went on to link the sacrifices of Easter 1916 with the sacrifices of 1981: “Ireland today needs once again the spirit, vision and selflessness of those who rose in Dublin in Easter Week and those who laid down their lives in the H-Blocks in 1981… More Irish citizens than ever before are supporting the republican values of freedom, unity and equality. More citizens than ever before are supporting Sinn Féin as the party to deliver a united Ireland, to build a fair economy and establish a real republic.”
He said that the recent Blexit referendum presented probably the most serious and economic crisis to face the island of Ireland in many years and that for the North to be dragged out of the EU “against the will of its people, by the votes of people in England and Wales would be a travesty of democracy.”
He said that the situation and the solution “underlines and strengthens the case for a United Ireland…
We are the generation who will bring about Irish unity. We have the determination, the commitment, and the right strategy, and we remain inspired by the sacrifices of patriots like Martin Hurson.”