'One Bright Light'
39th Anniversary of the 1981 Hunger Strike, John Barry Center, Philadelphia, PA
“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”.
Last week activists in Philadelphia held a commemorative mass to mark the ending of the 1981 Hunger strikes and the 100th Anniversary of the death of Terence MacSwiney. The mass at Commodore John Barry Arts and Cultural Centre was conducted by Fr. Halahan. In a letter to the organizers, Tar Anall Philadelphia, former IRA Prisoner and current Sinn Féin Councilor Seanna Walsh wrote:
“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 the Irish diaspora and other advocates for justice and human rights in Ireland in a way that was unimagined just a few years previously. Philadelphia’s indefatigable Mike Duffy made sure that your voices were heard and breached the walls of censorship and propaganda. This all helped in a small way to convince us and reassure us that we were not alone in that titanic struggle with Thatcher’s inhumanity.”
Sinn Féin Councilor and former H Block prisoner Séanna Walsh
Walsh added, “Although the battle-lines were drawn in Armagh Women’s Prison and in 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 Ireland can do honour to the memory of our 10 comrades. We have a different pathway now, we can finally see that new horizon come into view and we are preparing for it. Friends of Ireland, supporters and democrats across the world can all play their part in helping us all, finally, to complete that unfinished business.
Together with us, you – we can build the only fitting tribute to Bobby, Francie, Raymond, Patsy, Joe, Martin, Kevin, Kieran, Tom and Mick. The New Independent Irish Republic.” Next year marks the 40th Anniversary of 1981. Time to start planning. Let us know any ideas for marking the event in your town.