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éirígí organises series of Hunger Strike meetings
history and heritage |
Sunday November 09, 2008 18:05 by éirígí PRO - éirígí
With the recent release 'Hunger' interest in the 1981 Hunger Strike has increased.
The recent release of Steve McQueen’s critically acclaimed movie ‘Hunger’ has led to a renewed interest in both the 1981 Hunger Strike and the broader prison struggle of the 1970’s and 1980’s. For many of those too young to remember that momentous period the movie has whetted an appetite to learn more about the events that led ten young men to die on Hunger Strike twenty-seven years ago.
But whatever the merits of McQueen’s offering, it is, like all movies, essentially non-participatory. For those who wish to learn more ‘Hunger’ offers no opportunity to ask questions, receive answers or make comment.
This is the context within which éirígí has organised a series of 1981 Hunger Strike- themed public meetings which will take place during the month of November. Each meeting will take a similar format with at least one keynote speaker giving a first-hand account of their experience of the prison struggle before opening the floor to questions.
Some of those who will speak at these meetings include:
Bernard Fox from Belfast who took part in both the ‘blanket’ and ‘no-wash’ protest before joining the 1981 Hunger Strike. Bernard remained on Hunger Strike for 32 days before premature medical complications caused his protest to be ended.
Tommy McKearney from Co Tyrone who took part in both the ‘blanket’ and ‘no-wash’ protest before joining the ‘first’ Hunger Strike in 1980. Tommy went for 53 days without food before that protest was ended on the basis of a deal which the British authorities quickly retracted.
Jake Jackson from Belfast who took part in both the ‘blanket’ and ‘no-wash’ protests. As a former cellmate and close friend of Bobby Sands Jake had a unique insight into not only the 1981 Hunger Strike but also the period before and following.
Speaking in advance of the meetings éirígí spokesperson Daithí Mac An Mhaistír said,
‘The prison struggle of the 1970’s and 1980’s, which culminated in the 1981 Hunger Strike, was arguably THE seminal Irish event of the latter half of the 20th century. The fact that twenty-seven years later people are still so interested in all that happened in the H-Blocks and Armagh prison is testament to the sacrifice made by all who took part in that struggle.
‘‘Hunger’ is introducing a whole new generation to the courage and resolve shown by those who fought the British government from inside the jails. By organising these meetings we are hoping to give that generation a chance to meet with those who took part in the protest and hear their story.
‘And for those who are old enough to remember the prison struggle and Hunger Strike we hope that these meetings will provide an opportunity for them to recount their memories of the period and to talk about the impact that it had on their lives.
The first of the Hunger Strike meetings will take place in Clondakin in Dublin on Monday November 10th with the additional meetings taking place in Dublin, North Armagh, Belfast, South Derry and Fermanagh. Check the éirígí website for further details.
Neilstown Community Centre,
8pm, Monday, November 10th
Chair: Brian Leeson
Conway Education Centre
Conway Mill, Belfast,
7pm, Friday November 14th
St John John Bosco Youth Centre,
8pm, Monday, November 17th
Chair: Daithí Mac An Mhaistír
Kilwilke Community Centre,
7.30pm, Friday, November 21st
Kilinarden Community Centre
8pm, Monday November 26th
Chair: Scott Masterson
8pm, Saturday, November 29th