Hunger strike anniversary remembered in Derry

Junior Minister Martina Anderson lights a lantern during the Hunger Strike commemoration on Monday night. (0710PG05)
Junior Minister Martina Anderson lights a lantern during the Hunger Strike commemoration on Monday night. (0710PG05)

Derry republicans gathered in Creggan and the Bogside on Monday night to commemorate the 30th anniversary of the ending of the 1981 hunger strike.

A plaque was unveiled in memory of hunger striker Mickey Devine outside his late sister’s home on Rathkeele Way by Foyle Sinn Féin MLA Mitchel McLaughlin and Lisa Hegarty, a niece of the hunger striker.

Eimear Moore Rush lighting a lantern at Free Derry Corner to commemorate the Hunger Strikes. (0710PG07)

Eimear Moore Rush lighting a lantern at Free Derry Corner to commemorate the Hunger Strikes. (0710PG07)

Mr McLaughlin described Mickey Devine as “one of the most remarkable political activists” he ever met and praised his commitment to republicanism and socialism.

The Sinn Féin MLA also paid tribute to the family of the hunger striker. “During the hunger strike it was remarkable how strong Margaret (his sister) and Frank were. Even at the stage when they were put under pressure, towards the end, they never wavered. They recognised Mickey’s politics and were guided by that,” he said.

Shortly after the unveiling, several hundred republicans gathered at the H Block monument at Rossville Street for a public rally which was addressed by former prisoner, Marie Doherty. “When I think about the hunger strike I try to imagine Bobby Sands and his nine comrades and what they must have thought about. I am convinced that they knew how much their sacrifice would influence our people.

“Look how far we have come. We are the government of our people and Martin McGuinness is standing for the presidency. We have come so far that I cam sure that Bobby Sands must hear the laughter of our children, she said.

Mitchell McLaughlin MLA and Raymond McCartney MLA with, from left, brother in law Frank McCauley, and nieces Cathy Coney and Lisa Hegarty at the unveiling of the Mickey Devine memorial in Rathkeele Way. (0710PG02)

Mitchell McLaughlin MLA and Raymond McCartney MLA with, from left, brother in law Frank McCauley, and nieces Cathy Coney and Lisa Hegarty at the unveiling of the Mickey Devine memorial in Rathkeele Way. (0710PG02)

The rally was chaired by Sinn Féin councillor Kevin Campbell and the 1981 hunger strike role of honour was read by Eamonn McGinley.

30 Chinese lanterns were then released into the sky at Rossville Street to mark the anniversary while ten each were released from the hunger strike monuments in Creggan and the Brandywell at the same time.