Six Dead, Two Critical
Saturday, July 18th, 1981
Last Monday morning, at 4.30 am, Tyrone Blanket man Martin Hurson
became the sixth political prisoner to die on Hunger-strike in the Long Kesh H-Blocks, after forty-six days without food. The suddenness of Martin Hurson's death, coming only five days after that of Joe McDonnell, was a shock to all given that two other hunger-strikers, Kieran Doherty
and Kevin Lynch
, had been almost a week on the fast ahead of Martin.
Martin's health, since he was moved to the prison hospital on June 24th, had been deteriorating much quicker than that of his comrades or of the previous hungerstrikers, Throughout the hungerstrike, he had found great difficulty keeping down the required five pints of water each day.
On Sunday 12th July, the H-Block information Centre in Belfast reported that Martin's inability to drink water was causing him to hallucinate and to lose coherence in his speech. On Sunday night, Martin's family were called to the prison hospital just hours before his death. The death of Martin Hurson, coming two weeks earlier than might have been expected has disproven the assessment that prisoners are not in danger of death until around the 60 day stage of the hungerstrike.
Already, Michael Devine
, after only 23 days on hungerstrike on Tuesday, is experiencing similar problems to those of Martin. He is not able to drink sufficient quantities of water and is vomiting that which he manages to swallow.
Last Wednesday, July 15th, the H-Block Information Centre revealed that the condition of Kieran Doherty, then on the 55th day of his hungerstrike, was rapidly deteriorating. He slept little on Tuesday night due to constant vomiting and on Wednesday had difficulty carrying n a conversation and is very weak. His eyesight is also weak, and he had lost 3stone 7pounds since the beginning of his hungerstrike.
Kevin Lynch, one day behind Kieran on the hungerstrike, was unable to talk by Wednesday and is moved around the hospital in a wheelchair. He too is sleeping badly, if at all, due to sickness. He has lost 2stone 7pounds since the start of his fast. Kevin is suffering from severe pains in his back and hips, and feels the cold acutely as a result of the heating in his H-Block hospital cell having been turned off.
, who on Saturday is 34 days on hungerstrike, had been experiencing severe pains in his chest, while Thomas McElwee
who is 41 days without food on Saturday, has for over a week been suffering bad headaches. He has lost 2stone 1pound.
had lost 12pounds in weight by Tuesday, when he was on his 16th day of hungerstrike.
And Pat McGeown
, who began his fast on Friday week, July 10th, suffered a nosebleed twice during his first few days of his fast, last weekend.
As Martin Hurson was buried in County Tyrone on Wednesday 15th July, another blanket man from the same county, Matt Devlin
, took his place on the eight strong hunger-strike, to the death if necessary.