40 Years on Remembering the 1981 Hunger Strike.
This year marked the 40th Anniversary of the 1981 Hunger Strike that claimed the lives of Bobby Sands and 9 of his comrades in Long Kesh Prison.
The actions of these patriots continue to inspire a new generation of Irish Republican leaders and shape the politics of today and tomorrow.
The US marked the anniversary with events across the states including New York, Rockland (NY), Springfield (MA), Rhode Island, Chicago, Philadelphia, and Pittsburg.
As part of the commemoration Friends of Sinn Féin conducted and posted a series of interviews with those involved in the Prison protests in Long Kesh and Armagh.
Together they mark an incredible archive of the events of the day from former hunger strikers, prisoners, and leaders on the outside.
The archive can be accessed on the Friends of Sinn Fein Youtube Channel.
In a contribution to a Hunger Strike Commemoration in Pittsburg, former prison leader
Seanna Walsh wrote
a Chairde Gael,
Forty years have passed so quickly. The Ireland of today is unrecognizable from the Ireland in which I grew up. The cells of the H-Blocks lie empty. A silent witness to how comradeship, integrity, and commitment can overcome injustice, brutality, and inhumanity.
The peace and progress that we now enjoy came at a terrible cost.
We were political prisoners engaged in a struggle with the might of the British Government. It was to cost the life of my friend and close comrade Bobby Sands. It would claim the lives of 9 more gallant and committed Irish Republicans, over 217 days in 1981.
Locked in our cells as our comrades were carried home through the streets and byroads we were heart sore.
One bright light that shone through the sorrow into those dungeons was the solidarity and support from right across the globe, not least from our banished cousins in the towns and cities throughout the USA.
The Hunger Strike and the deaths of the 10 crystallized the concerns and fears of Irish America and other advocates for justice and human rights in Ireland in a way that was unimagined just a few years previously.
We were not alone in that titanic struggle with Thatcher’s inhumanity.
Thatcher is gone but the memory of the Hunger Strikers lives on.
But friends, we still have much work to do.
Although the battle lines were drawn in Armagh Women’s Prison and the H-Blocks, the Hunger Strikers’ fight was about much, much more than prison conditions.
Only an end to partition, a breaking of the link with Westminster and England, and the forging of a New and United Ireland can do honor to the memory of our 10 comrades.
We have a different pathway now, we can finally see that a new horizon comes into view and we are preparing for it.
Supporters of Irish Unity in Pittsburgh and across the US can all play their part to complete that unfinished business.
Together we can build the only fitting tribute to Bobby, Francie, Raymond, Patsy, Joe, Martin, Kevin, Kieran, Tom, and Mick. The New Independent Irish Republic.
Go raibh míle maith agaibh a chairde agus ar aghaidh linn, le chéile. Tá An Phoblacht ag fanacht.