There was a large turn-out in Bellaghy, South Derry, to mark the 35th anniversary of the death of IRA Volunteer Francis Hughes. Supporters and relatives assembled at Gulladuff Road before parading behind bands through Bellaghy to the cemetery of St Mary’s on the outskirts of the town where Francis is buried alongside his cousin and fellow hunger striker, Thomas McElwee.
Among those in attendance were Pauline McElwee (sister of Thomas McElwee); Bridie Lynch (sister of Kevin Lynch); Mary Davey (widow of John Davey, a former internee and Sinn Féin Councillor assassinated by British agents in 1989); John’s daughter Pauline (a former Sinn Féin Councillor); Ian Milne MLA (former PoW); Sean McGlinchey (former PoW), Sinn Féin Councillor; former comrades of Francis, including Seanna Walsh, Tomboy Loudun and Peadar Whelan; and Danny Morrison (Secretary Bobby Sands Trust).
Outside the gates of the cemetery a large stage had been erected. Actors in period costume performed scenes from the Easter Rising, including a re-enactment of the court-martial and execution of James Connolly. The main speaker was Sean McGlinchey who spoke simply about the lives of young people, their innocent mischievousness, before the state brought the conflict to their lanes and roads and punished a community for seeking basic justice and civil rights. He paid tribute to the courage of Francis Hughes and his comrades, their sacrifice was the price paid for resisting British rule but inspiring the struggle that continues today for an end to British rule in Ireland.