**This article appeared 14 June 2001

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The 20th anniversary of the election of Kieran Doherty as TD for Cavan/Monaghan was marked at a major event in Cavan town last weekend. The H-Block hunger striker was elected on 11 June 1981 and hundreds of people participated in the commemoration on Saturday 8 June organised by the County Cavan 1981 Committee.

A parade through the town was preceded by a special mass for Doherty in Cavan Cathedral. Some 600 people participated in the parade. Banners from Cavan and Monaghan dating from the H-Block and Armagh protest period were carried in the parade, which was watched by hundreds of people along the route.

In bright sunshine, an open air public meeting was held at the County Cavan Republican Memorial, which bears the name of Kieran Doherty TD. Proceedings were chaired by the Sinn Féin Leas-Cathaoirleach of Cavan County Council Charlie Boylan, who acted as Election Agent for Doherty in 1981.

Cavan County Councillor Pauline Tully paid special tribute to the role of women in Armagh Prison and in the campaign in support of the prisoners in that period.

There was a moment of emotion when Kieran Doherty's mother Margaret sang a song about her son, `Kieran's Song'. She and Kieran's father Alfie were presented by Charlie Boylan with a specially inscribed Cavan Crystal plate. A friend and comrade of Kieran Doherty, John Pickering, was the final speaker.

The main address of the day was given by Sinn Féin Cavan/Monaghan TD Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin, who was Director of Elections for Doherty in 1981. Referring to the suffering of all sides in the conflict, he said that ``because republicans have suffered more than most in the conflict, we recognise and sympathise with the grief of those on all sides. That understanding has deepened our commitment to achieving a lasting peace based on justice and equality, a peace which will ensure that no future generation of Irish people will have to endure conflict.''

Ó Caoláin said: ``Twenty years ago, 9,121 people in Counties Cavan and Monaghan cast their number one vote for Irish Republican Army Volunteer, H-Block Political Prisoner and Hunger Striker Kieran Doherty and elected him as their Teachta Dála. We gather today to honour Kieran and his comrades who died on hunger strike. They died for Irish freedom and we are here, stronger and more confident than ever, to complete their work in our day.

``The election of political prisoners Bobby Sands in Fermanagh/South Tyrone, Kieran Doherty in Cavan/Monaghan and Paddy Agnew in County Louth dealt three crushing blows against the discredited and despicable British policy of criminalisation of Irish republican prisoners.

``Despite censorship, despite harassment by the forces of the British state and the 26-County state, despite disinformation and the opposition of the political and church establishments, the sound people of these border counties gave a resounding endorsement of the prisoners' five just demands. They expressed their desire to end the division of our country and they demonstrated their respect for the men and women who strove to achieve Irish unity and independence and who were prepared to suffer imprisonment and even death for the freedom of the Irish people.

``In that year of `81, the ordinary people of these counties and the prisoners whom they had taken to their hearts were pitted against all the power of political platform, press and pulpit. Kieran's victory was a people's victory and those who cast their votes on that historic day truly helped to usher in a new phase in the struggle for Irish freedom.

``And today, on the day following the historic reconquest of the constituencies of Fermanagh/South Tyrone and West Tyrone and the consolidation of Sinn Féin's hold on Mid-Ulster and West Belfast, we stand on the threshold of a new and vigorous phase of that struggle. The coming months will see this party challenge the collective might of the political establishment in this State. Yesterday's historic rejection of the Treaty of Nice by the electorate of these 26 Counties emboldens us to the task before us. This TD has never walked alone and following the next general election I will no longer be a lone voice of our cause in Leinster House. There is nothing we cannot achieve as long as we stand together. Comrades, keep faith in this struggle, keep faith in our leadership and we will succeed. Our day has come.

``It was republicans who initiated the peace process and who have sustained it. But it cannot be sustained without real political change. The increase in the Sinn Féin mandate in the Westminster election emphasises more strongly than ever the need for the stalling tactics of the British government and the Unionist parties to be set aside.''

Following the parade and meeting there was an exhibition on the H-Block and Armagh campaign in Cavan Town Hall which was visited by many people. Kevin Reilly (Belturbet) of the Cavan 1981 Committee compiled the exhibition. The programme concluded with a well-attended function in the Farnham Arms Hotel.

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