Hungerstriker: Raymond McCreesh
In 1957, Raymond McCreesh was born in Camlough, South Armagh
as the seventh of eight children to a adamantly nationalist family. He involved himself in the Republican movement in his adolescence, joining Na Fianna Eireann
at 16. Not long after that, he joined the 1st Battalion of the IRA.
McCreesh was employed as a milkman and learned the streets and countryside of his area while performing his routes. This intelligence would greatly aid his comrades activity in that region.
Almost no one save the men he ran operations with knew that Raymond was a Republican. He was always discreet about his involvement. This is amazing when one considers the number of operations Raymond was involved in.
As a part of a four person ASU (active service unit), McCreesh carried out operations against occupying British forces. He was captured after an operation in 1976 and sentenced to 14 years in a star-chamber trial. As many volunteers who were arrested, he refused to accept the validity of the court he appeared in.
In a strange bit of coincidence, the SAS man who first opened fire on McCreesh would later be killed during the wounding and capture of Francis Hughes in South Derry. And also in late 1979, Hughes and McCreesh shared a cell together while on the blanket.
Raymond was not chosen as one of the seven who commenced hungerstrike in 1980, but he was one of the thirty to participate for the last for days of that protest. Hi reputation as a determined Republican soldier put him in the forefront of the Volunteers to be chosen for the 1981 strike. He was the fourth man to join the strike, the same day as his INLA comrade Patsy O'Hara.
He sought strength from his brother, Father Brian McCreesh during his hungerstrike and his brother did not fail him. His brother, to the dismay of the Catholic Church, supported his hungerstrike from day one. In Raymonds final days, Fr. Brian sent an urgent telegram to 10 Downing St. reading:
"My Brother has gone two months without food, and four and a half years without clothes or washing. All he has left now is his pride as a young Irishman, and his loyalty to his fellow prisoners both living and dead" He asked her to respect his dignity and to move to save his life."
Prime Minister Thatcher sent no reply to Brian McCreesh and Raymond died shortly after. After 61 days, Raymond gave his life for his cause; Irish Freedom. He was unbroken and resolute in his strike.
The IRA planted a tribute in Raymond's hometown, Camlough, shortly after his death. This tribute was a 1,000lb bomb that disintegrated a British Army Saracen.
McCreesh fought and died for what he believed was just. This fight is still continuing both in the prison cells and on the streets of the occupied counties. Don't forget about what these men died for, their ideals are not being achieved thru the "mainstream" channels.