Thousands bound for hunger strike demo

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Sinn Féin MEP Martina Anderson will deliver the main oration at one of the biggest events in the republican calendar, the annual National Hunger Strike commemoration in Strabane this Sunday.

It is the first time the commemoration of the 1981 IRA and INLA hunger strike in which ten men, including Francis Hughes, Patsy O’Hara, Martin Hurson, Kevin Lynch, Thomas McElwee and Michael Devine, all from counties Derry and Tyrone, died, will take place in the town.

Sinn Féin Foyle MLA and former hunger striker Raymond McCartney said: “The prison struggle of the late 1970s and early 1980s were without any doubt a key moment in the Irish struggle for freedom and justice. And within that period the hunger strike of 1981 is of course the defining moment.

“The National commemoration in Strabane is one of the biggest events in the republican calendar and I appeal to the wider republican community in Derry, to the people of Ireland and international sympathisers to mobilise and show support for the ideals for which the hunger strikers gave their all.”

Thousands of people are expected to assemble at the Diamond in Lifford at 2.30 p.m. before parading to Strabane at 3 p.m. for the orations.

In the build up to the commemoration a new mural has been unveiled in Lifford.

Republican activists from Lifford and Strabane gathered at the roundabout to unveil a mural dedicated to the 1981 hunger strikers, as well as Michael Gaughan and Frank Stagg who died on hunger strike in England in 1974 and 1976 respectively.

Chair of the McLaughlin/McGinn Sinn Féin Cumann, Tony McDaid said: “This mural is our contribution in honouring the sacrifice of the 1981 hunger strikers and all who died on hunger strike before them.

“These were ordinary men in extraordinary circumstances, who chose to stand up and fight against the might of British oppression, and paid the ultimate sacrifice in doing so.”