Foyle MLA McCartney speaks at commemoration

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Sinn Féin Foyle MLA Raymond McCartney joined an international panel discussion at a weekend of events in Ballina, Co. Mayo to coincide with the National Hunger Strike commemoration taking place there.

Busloads of local people joined thousands from all parts of Ireland and beyond in Ballina to mark the 36th Anniversary of the 1981 Hunger Strike in which ten young men died in H-Blocks of Long Kesh.

The Commemoration marked the sacrifice of Mayo Hunger Strikers Michael Gaughan and Frank Stagg, who died in English prisons in the 1970s.

It also marked the sacrifice of another Mayo man Seán ‘Jack’ McNeela and Tony D’arcy from Co. Galway, both of whom died on Hunger Strike in 1940.

Raymond McCartney, who spent 53 days on Hunger Strike in 1980, reflected upon the prison protests in Long Kesh and Armagh Gaol in the 1980s during the discussion event.

George Stagg, brother of Hunger striker Frank Stagg, spoke emotionally of his memories of the funeral of his brother being hijacked, and thanked people for their continued support in remembering all the Hunger Strikers.

There were also speakers from Palestine at the event.

The 2017 National Hunger Strike Commemoration in Ballina marked the first time the event was held in Connacht.

Other speakers included Gerry Kelly MLA, who is also a former Hunger Striker.

The Commemoration is staged each year in memory of the Hunger Strike, in which ten young men lost their lives.