19 May 2006

'Facts Wrong On Hunger Strike' - Joe O'Neill

Donegal Democrat

**Via Séan on Indymedia.ie

Thursday 18th May 2006

Speaking at a meeting of Republican Sinn Féin in Bundoran this week, Joe O'Neill said the leadership of Provisional Sinn Féin had sold out the ideals of the 10 hunger strikers who died in 1981 "with one stroke of a pen."

"Political Status. That's what they died for and that's what Gerry Adams and Martin McGuinness destroyed in one act," Mr O'Neill said.

Mr O'Neill knew two of the hunger strikers, Martin Hurson, one of the youngest and Francis Hughes "one of the greatest guerilla war fighters of all time" personally and knew the families of all the other men who died.

As the 25th anniversary commemorations for the republican prisoners who died on hunger strike passed Mr O'Neill said, "I would like to point out the lies and the spin that Provisional Sinn Féin and the news media are putting on the hunger strikers of 1981," he told the meeting.

"Daithí O'Connell, and not Jim Gibney was the man who who first proposed that Bobby Sands should fight for the Westminster seat in Fermanagh/South TirEoghan," he said.

"At a meeting in Clones around that time, Ruairí Ó Brádaigh had a very hard time getting Bobby Sands nominated because Gerry Adams and company did not want him to run. They weren't sure he would be elected by the people."

According to Joe O'Neill "In the lead up to nomination day, Noel McGuire had not withdrawn his nomination and Gerry Adams and Danny Morrison wanted Sands to withdraw his. They phoned across the border to Ó Brádaigh and Daithi O'Connell who were both wanted by the English authorities in the six occupied counties but they said 'no' Bobby Sands was not to be withdrawn," Joe O'Neill explained.

"And we all know who was right in the end," he added.

Mr O'Neill said he hoped the media would realise, once and for all, that newspapers, documentary makers and so-called historical books had their facts wrong, especially now on the 25th anniversary of Bobby Sands' death.

Mr O'Neill also said that Provisional Sinn Féin tried to dissuade republicans from fighting election in the 26 counties. He pointed to the fact four more Sinn Féin members were elected that year, including Joe Rice in Kerry, John Joe McGirl for Sligo/Leitrim, Gareth O'Hanlon in Monaghan and Ruairí Ó Brádaigh in Longford --"all on republican policy," Joe O'Neill said.

"The difference between the elections of the 1950s and 1981 was the earlier elections were held in support of the fight for Irish freedom while Provisional Sinn Féin used the fight for Irish freedom to support them getting elected."

Moving on to the Peace Process, Mr O'Neill said, "The three biggest betrayals in the last century was 1921, 1986 and 1998 when the British wanted to talk and were prepared to pay anything to end the war in England. Since 1998, the English have paid wads of money to rehabilitate Provos, for Sinn Féin offices, Stormont wages and expenses so yes, the British paid off Provos."

Joe O'Neill also criticised the Good Friday Agreement as "the day of betrayal of the hunger strikers and what they died for".

"That day Provisional Sinn Féin threw away political status and signed away the rights of Irish men and women to fight for Irish freedom," Mr O'Neill said, "Margaret Thatcher could not break the spirit of the hunger strikers but, Adams and McGuinness did it with one stroke of a pen," he concluded.

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