FOR the first time ever this year, the National Hunger Strike Commemoration is being held in Mayo. This annual public event will take place in Ballina, this Sunday August 13 at 3pm, starting at Dunnes car park on Humbert Street. Gerry Kelly, MLA, will be the main speaker.
Speaking ahead of the commemoration, Mayo Sinn Féin Senator, Rose Conway-Walsh, said that central to this year’s event will be the three Mayo hunger strikers, Jack McNeela who died with his friend Tony D’Arcy from Galway in 1940; Michael Gaughan from Ballina who died in 1974 and Frank Stagg from Holymount, who died in 1976.
George Stagg, brother of Frank Stagg said: “We are very much looking forward to this year’s commemoration in Ballina. It is heartening to know that the sacrifices made by Frank and his comrades who died for a free and united Ireland are not forgotten. I know there are many who would like to have attended Frank’s funeral all those years ago but because his body was taken by the State, diverted to Shannon and buried under concrete in Leigue Cemetery, it was impossible for people to attend in the same way as they had done in their thousands two years earlier for Michael Gaughan. Indeed, many young people would have not yet been born. So Ballina on Sunday is an opportunity for us all to gather and remember. This is a public event open to everyone.”
Programme of events
Senator Conway-Walsh outlined that a huge amount of work is been done by many under the dedicated chairmanship of Seán McManus, to ensure this will be a memorable weekend.
“The weekend kicks off with a panel discussion featuring Danny Morrison and Ruán O’Donnell on the Friday evening at 8pm in the Great National Hotel. Saturday includes a workshop on Colonialism and Conflict from 10am to 4pm, facilitated by Trademark Belfast, an evening discussion from 8pm on the H-Blocks and Palestine organised by Sinn Féin Republican Youth, finishing with live music by the Spirit of Freedom.”
The commemoration is an annual event held to remember the 1981 Hunger Strike in which ten young men - Bobby Sands, Francis Hughes, Raymond McCreesh, Patsy O’Hara, Joe McDonnell, Martin Hurson, Kevin Lynch, Kieran Doherty, Thomas McElwee and Mickey Devine died in the H-Blocks of Long Kesh.
“The 1981 Hunger Strike saw the men and women of the H-Blocks and Armagh women’s prison, and the tens of thousands who supported them, thwart British Government efforts to criminalise the struggle for a free and united Ireland. The names of Bobby Sands and his fellow Hunger Strikers are known the world over and are an inspiration to all struggling for freedom, rights and human dignity,” concluded Senator Conway-Walsh.