02 April 2005

Daily Ireland

Bundoran honours 1981 hungerstrikers

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Republicans in Bundoran have opened a garden in memory of all those who lost their lives for Irish freedom.
Some of the families of the men who died in the 1981 hunger strikes travelled to Bundoran for the opening ceremony which was attended by a large crowd of onlookers. Fr Des Wilson gave the oration.
There was also a large garda presence but the day’s events passed without incident.
Among those family members who attended were relatives of Kieran Doherty, Thomas McIlwee, Patsy O’Hara, Kevin Lynch and Francis Hughes who all died during the hunger strikes of 1981. The family of Frank Stagg who died on hunger strike in England also attended.
In all 22 hunger strikers, who sacrificed their lives from 1917 until 1981, are
The five IRA men who had plaques erected in their memory are Paddy Carty, who had family connections in Bundoran, Dermot Crowley and Sean ‘The Crow’ Loughran who were killed outside Omagh in 1973, Antoine Mac Giolla Bhríghde and Ciarán Fleming who was one of the 1983
H-Block escapees.
The garden, on a site in the west end of Bundoran, overlooks the Atlantic ocean and Donegal mountains. A celtic cross carries the names of five IRA volunteers who were killed on active service. There are individual plaques to honour the ten men who died on the 1981 hunger strike and Frank Stagg and Michael Gaughan, who died on hunger strike in England.
Some have criticised the new memorial saying it is not inclusive and does not commemorate all local volunteers.
Local Sinn Féin member Michael McMahon did not attend the ceremony. He said: “It is supposed to be a garden of remembrance and yet they have neglected to include the name of a local IRA volunteer who was fatally injured in an ambush in 1992.”
Mr McMahon was referring to Joe McManus, a volunteer from County Sligo who was killed in Mulleek, Co Fermanagh.
However, the garden committee say that, while plaques have not been erected in honour of all individual volunteers, the sole purpose of the project was to remember all Irish people who died for Irish freedom. For this reason a plaque has been erected at the exit from the garden which reads: “Before you leave this place today spare a thought and a prayer to all those who lost their lives for Irish freedom and to all those who lost their lives because of England’s occupation of this country.”
Organisers say Easter Monday’s unveiling was the result of nearly 20 years work from a small committee who first had the idea for the garden in 1986.
Joe O’Neill sits on the committee. He said: “It was always our intention to keep politics out of this. When we started we had a list of names we wanted to commemorate. I have friends and relatives who were volunteers, some from this area, who lost their lives but they are not mentioned. We will keep that for another day.
“We made a promise to do this 20 years ago and we had a list of names. We are just delighted to fulfill it today. Those who are criticising the project over the exclusion of names are just denigrating the names of all the people who sacrificed their lives.”
Over 1,000 people visited the garden on Easter Sunday as visitors filled the seaside town of Bundoran over the bank holiday weekend. Organisers say they will add more names to the list of those remembered in the garden over time.

Below are extracts from a recent article by humanist, priest and A’town news columnist Fr. Des Wilson – entitled ‘One answer to a hunger strike’, on the use of the hunger strike and the role of those not fasting as he sees it I am not aware of Fr. Des Wilson’s efforts to bring Liam Hannaway’s fast to a conclusion at this time but he has not (to date) used his column to highlight Liam Hannaway’s plight.

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One answer to a hunger strike
Andersonstown News Thursday
Fr Des

There is a holding camp in Iraq. Holding hundreds of people from Iran. Some went on hunger strike.

We in Ireland know how a hunger strike by those in bondage comes only from the depths of misery and even despair. And we have learned that the only answer to a hunger strike is justice. We have seen the result of the refusal of governments to grant it. It should not happen anywhere and, if it does, Irish people will be among the first to say no and demand that what caused it be changed.

The world is plagued by hunger, injustice, suffering, illness, and while we are depressed at the scale of it we are enraged by the inability or unwillingness of governments and their organisations to take their courage in both hands and do everything needed to relieve them.

There is no need to make a judgment about who is right and who is wrong in such a situation – prisoners are prisoners are prisoners, whether in prisons, in camps or under oppressive force, and those who have the privilege of helping them do it just because they are fellow human beings in trouble.

Once a human being passes through that door of suffering, there are no distinctions to be made. If the United Nations and the Human Rights organisations and the churches and the political parties agree to relieve suffering for that reason alone, they can be sure there will still be plenty they can do to satisfy their own demands and self interest. LATER…

No political or financial arrangement can justify imposing or continuing human suffering that can be avoided.

We have had many occasions to be disappointed with the organisations we appointed to save human beings from misery.

Maybe there seems little we can do then, but there is something. Letters, letters,letters. To United Nations people, human rights people, MPs, TDs, Assembly members, churches, to anybody with the slightest power to intervene.

We can easily do it by email.

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IMO it is one thing to talk the talk but walking the walk is an altogether different prospect. The A’town News to date has given less coverage to L.Hannaway’s case than the Belfast Telegraph.
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