Deputy First Minister, Martin McGuinness didn’t feature in the platform party at Sunday’s National Hunger Strike Commemoration in Dungiven, but the senior Sinn Fein man still attracted plenty of attention on what he hailed a “huge day for Dungiven’.
From the adoring parents of a new born baby from Pomeroy, to supporters clamouring for autographs, Mr. McGuinness found himself surrounded by spectators as soon as the event ended.
Speaking to the ‘Journal’, he said it was a proud day for Dungiven to host the commemoration.
“A huge day and a huge crowd and it’s fantastic to see. It epitomises the huge regard the hunger strikers are held in by the community and what’s clearly striking by today is the number of young people who are not just attending the march, but participating in all of the side events and young people who have been politicised by the hunger strikers and the peace process also. They recognise the work of the peace process and that it’s about building a better future for them, so to have them participating with us in such huge numbers is very gratifying,” he said.
Mr. McGuinness paid tribute to Dungiven for keeping the name of hunger striker Kevin Lynch alive.
“Kevin is much loved in Dungiven as epitomised by the local hurling club and the fact his memory is kept alive by the band. Having his family here today and representatives from all the other families is obviously very important for all of those who remember the very tragic period that was the period of the Hunger Strike in 1981. The community, in coming together today, do so in remembrance of the hunger stikers, but also in recognition of a struggle that lasted for a very long period which culminated in a peace process that is now, in a very powerful way, changing the face of politics in this country, I believe, for the better.”
The Deputy First Minister hailed Dungiven, which last week hosted the Ulster Fleadh, as a proud nationalist-republican town.
“Dungiven is proud of its Irish traditional music roots and the hurling club that has performed well in all sorts of competitions. Dungiven is very proud of Kevin Lynch, who is a son of this town. It is a very proud town, which shows in election after election, and in the course of recent times, is massively supportive of the peace process and the work Sinn Fein is doing trying to change the political landscape for the better.”