Derry Journal

Derry Hungerstriker Remembered
Tuesday 25th May 2004

UPWARDS OF hundred and fifty republicans gathered at the graveside of INLA Volunteer and 1981 hungerstriker Patsy O'Hara in Derry on Sunday for a wreath laying ceremony to mark the 23rd anniversary of his death.

Republicans of all shades in an open show of solidarity with the O'Hara family attended the ceremony. First to speak was Paddy Browne of the IRPWA (Irish Republican Prisoners Welfare Association) who read a statement from the prisoners in Maghaberry outlining their current plight.

This was followed by the main oration which was delivered by Eddie McGarrigle of the IRSP's Ard Comhairle who said there were no words or speeches which would adequately explain the full extent of Patsy O'Hara's courage or determination.

"No fine words will be sufficient to convey the enormity of the terrible burden of grief and pain endured by the O'Hara family both during the traumatic days of the 1981 hunger-strike and the long, lonely years which followed.

"We can only bow our heads in awe of their courage and steadfastness. Mixed with the grief and pain is a great sense of pride and today we gather here at his graveside with you to embrace you in solidarity.

"Patsy was 23-years-old when he died on hungerstrike; during his short life he witnessed the barbaric nature of British rule, the repression and gerrymandering of the Stormont state with the backing of the British, forced young men like Patsy to take up arms.

"He saw injustice, he resisted, he saw brutality, he resisted, he witnessed at first hand the lackeys of imperialism baton and murder peaceful protesters in this city, he resisted.

"Patsy was on the side of the downtrodden and oppressed, he was interned at the age of 17, he was the victim of several frame ups and internment by remand.

"He was a revolutionary soldier who joined the ranks of the INLA and fought for the liberation of his class and his people."

He continued: "Times have changed in many ways, it is clear that we all find ourselves living in somewhat confusing times, spin doctoring seems to be the order of the day.

"The recent report by the Independent Monitoring Commission came as no surprise to any Irish republican, its independence is a sham, it is a tool of policy for both the British and Irish governments with a mandate to isolate and demonise republicans, it is yet another mechanism by which they hope to pressurise republicans into conforming to their set of rules, let me make this clear, the Republican Socialist Movement will never jump through any hoops to suit the agenda of either government."

Mr. McGarrigle concluded by calling for a united campaign in support of the prisoners in MaghaberryJail: "All republicans, regardless of differences or tactics need to rally to their support.

"Today in Maghaberry prison Irish Republican prisoners face the same enemy as the prisoners faced in Long Kesh in 1981 - the criminalisation of Irish prisoners.

"Republicans of all shades need to put their differences to one side and form a united campaign of support.

"Wherever and whenever injustices are found republicans of all traditions need to stand shoulder to shoulder."

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