Random Ramblings from a Republican
IRA ATTITUDE ON H-BLOCK
An Phoblacht/Republican News
September 5th, 1981
A spokesman for the Irish Republican Army, authorised to speak on behalf of the leadership, has outlined to "An Phoblacht/Republican News" the attitude of the army to the H-Block hungerstrike and to the repulican participation in elections.
Firstly, he spoke about the attitude of the IRA to the continuation of the six month long hungerstrike in which ten blanket men have died, and what effect it has had on the IRA in terms of morale and support.
The attitude of the IRA to the hungerstrike is well known and authenticated over the last two to three years. We made strenuous efforts to prevent a hungerstrike in the most concrete way possible by making an escalation of the blanket protest unncesessary.
We discouraged the prisoners on numerous occasion when they felt that a hungerstrike was the only logical means of bringing public pressure to bear on the British. On one occasion, when disccussion were taking place between Cardinal O'Fiaich, Bishop Daly and the British administration, we suspended operation against prison officials. We placed no obstacles in the way of those who wished to bring their influence to bear on the situation. In fact we encouraged numerous groups and individuals to assist in finding a principled and permanent end to the prison protests.
One cannt look at the hungerstrike outside of the contest of the five years of prison protest. In a press statement written incidentally by Bobby Sands, on behalf of the protesting prisoners in 1978, a full account was given of the deprivations and indignities suffered by the prisoners. It concluded by stating: 'Let no one say, as many did about Nazi concentration camps, that they did not know what was happening.'
Even Cardinal O Fiaich, no friend of the IRA, said after his visit to the H-Blocks in July 1978, that the prisoners would rather suffer death than be branded with the indignity of being labelled as "criminals."
While public opinion throughout the world has been alerted since the hungerstrike commencing for reasons of fraternal concern for our comrades, strategy and political considerations - basically that our understanding of the political situation in Ireland is that British interest are protected by loyalists, but also by those who purport to fit into the nationalist camp. "
*this is part two of a reprinted piece I did last year. It is slightly different than the original.
Earlier history of hungerstriking as a tool for bringing about justice
, the Republican Party[SIC!!!],
in 1939 proscribed the IRA and the jails of the Free State soon swelled with political prisoners. In 1940, prisoners wallowing in the appalling conditions of Mountjoy Gaol began a strike.
The strikers included Tony D'Arcy, Sean McNeela, Thomas Grogan, Jack Plunkett, Tomas MacCutrain and Michael Traynor
. A week into the protest, the prisoners were mercilessly beaten by the Free State screws.
Tony D'Arcy and Sean McNeela
paid the ultimate price for their participation in this protest. They died on April 16th and 19th respectively. Shortly after, the hungerstrike was called off when the prisoners were informed that a deal had been struck with the Free State government. This apparent deal was short lived and Free State exploitation of Republicans continued.
The last hungerstriker to perish in a Free State jail was Sean McCaughey
. He was a Belfast native who was O/C of the IRA's northern command in the early 1940's. He was arrested in Dublin for holding an informer (actually the COS of the IRA). The charges were common assault and unlawful imprisonment. He was sentenced to LIFE
An original blanketman, McCaughey refused to wear the prison clothes of Portlaoise Jail and spent nearly 5 years naked except for a blanket. He commenced his hungerstrike on April 19th, 1946 and after five days began a thirst strike as well. Under these conditions, one cannot live long. Sean died after 17 days on strike. He was rightfully buried in the Republican plot at Milltown in Belfast.
The original "special category" status of the early-mid 1970's was earned thru hungerstrike. In May of 1972, after an incident between a screw and a POW in the Crumlin Road Prison, it was decided by the leadership of republican POWs inside the jail to protest the prisoner's punishment. After being told that this punishment could not be over-ruled, the political prisoners upped the ante and demanded political status.
Told that this would never happen, six prisoners led by Billy McKee were chosen to spearhead the hungerstrike. As McKee's health began to deteriorate and his death seemed to be inevitable, the Brits agreed to a secret meeting to "negotiate" a settlement. Ireland's Own
says the following about the strike's end: "The Provos agreed to grant a ceasefire and meet with Whitelaw if two conditions were met: concede to the prisoners' demands for special political status; and free Gerry Adams from prison so he could participate in the talks."
This strike lasted 35 days and ended in the granting of "Special Category Status," a cop-out name pinned on the concession by the British to save face.
was one of the first Provisional IRA members to be imprisoned in England. He was tried and sentenced for his part in a bank raid at Old Bailey in December of 1971. Frank Stagg
was tried and sentenced in November of 1973 in Coventry on an vacuous charge of conspiracy to commit explosions.
Also in November 1973, the "Belfast Ten" were tried and sentenced to life for bombings that occurred earlier in the year in England. These ten included Marian
and Dolours Price, Gerry Kelly, and Hugh Feeney
. These four commenced hungerstrike upon entering prison. They were brutally force-fed for two hundred and six days.
Gaughan and Stagg joined the strike on March 31st, 1974 primarily to show support for their comrades already on strike and secondly for repatriation. After 23 days refusing food, they were force-fed. This brutal practice involves sticking a thick greased tube down a person's throat and into the stomach. Often the tube enters the windpipe and it was because of this that Michael Gaughan died. He became ill after the tube punctured his lung, caught pneumonia and died on June 3rd, 1974.
This death caused the British establishment much shame and led to the abandonment of force-feeding as a tactic for countering hungerstrikes. The four strikers of the "Belfast Ten
" ended their strike shortly after and Stagg's ended on the 7th.
Having his demands for repatriation ignored, Stagg began a second strike after being transferred from Parkhurst to Worcestershire. 10th October 1974 was the first day of Stagg's second strike. Thirty one days later he was told that he would be transferred to Long Kesh by March of 1975. He ended his strike in lieu of this deal.
In March of 1975, Gerry Kelly and Hugh Feeney were transferred to the cages of Long Kesh and the Price sisters were repatriated to Armagh Jail. But Frank Stagg remained in England. Now in Wakefield Prison, Frank commenced a third hungerstrike on the 14th of December 1975. He was to die after 62 days refusing food, February 12, 1976.
Free State officials had Stagg's body diverted from Dublin to Shannon airport to prevent a show of Republican sentiment in the city. The Special Branch thugs then seized his coffin and kept it in the airport for 48 hours before flying it by helicopter under guard to Robeen Church in Co. Mayo. The Special Branch prevented it from being buried in the Republican plot. Stagg was instead buried 10 metres away and his coffin was covered over top by cement to prevent it from ever being moved. Also, for six months there was a constant Special Branch presence in the cemetery. This didn't stop the rightful thing from happening.
On November 8th, 1976 a group of IRA Volunteers accompanied by a priest tunneled down under the grave and removed the coffin. They buried it in the Republican plot and held a short religious service.
*a reprint of an earlier article, today and tomorrow.
Earlier history of hungerstriking as a tool for bringing about justice
The years between 1917 and 1920 involved a number of different hungerstrikes in various prisons both in Britain and in Ireland. It began with the death fast of Thomas Ashe
in September of 1917. Ashe's hungerstrike was completely effective and the prisoners were granted political status. But common to British vindictiveness regarding Republicans, the prisoners' status was revoked and they were all transferred to Dundalk Jail.
Early in 1918, prominent Republican Austin Stack and a number of other prisoners in Dundalk began a second strike which was soon intensified when the POWs of Cork Jail joined the protest. Their mission was to win back their rightful political status; the reason which Ashe had died in order to bring about.
was a part of this 1918 protest in Cork Jail and was steadfast in his strike. He is quoted as saying, "This may be a fight to the death. And we must stick to it as long as possible." Their protests were successful when prisoners began to fall ill. This shook the British establishment who wanted nothing to do with another fiasco like Ashe's death. The prisoners were all granted one month releases from prison. Their return of course never happened.
Two prisoners fell ill enough that they died soon after being released. Their names were Seamus Courtney and Aidan Gleeson
In 1920 the Black and Tans'
scourge of the countryside was raging and Republicans found themselves in prisons in great numbers. Lacking their rightful political status, they decided again to strike for their rights by refusing food. Sixty POWs took part in this strike and it drew much public attention. After a week of the strike, a general labour strike was called amongst the unions in support of the prisoners demands. This strike had the desired effect. By the 10th day of the hungerstrike the Brits and their lackies gave in and granted the hungerstrikers a general amnesty!! This date was April 20th, 1920.
Two more men died as a result of the effects of the strike. These men were Patrick Fogarty and Francis Gleeson; both of Dublin.
On August 11th, 1920, a hungerstrike began in Cork Jail which would soon be joined by Cork's Lord Mayor Terence MacSwiney
. After five days in Cork Jail, the O/C of the IRA's Cork No. 1 Brigade was transferred to the British prison, Brixton. He died seventy-five days later on October 25, 1920. His funeral brought the largest crowd in the history of Ireland until Bobby Sands
eclipsed it more than 60 years later.
What is nearly forgotten is that two other men also starved themselves to death for justice on that strike. They were Michael Fitzgerald and Joseph Murphy, striking in Cork Jail for 67 and 76 days respectively.
A very large hungerstrike began in Mountjoy Jail in October of 1923. It involved an unknown number of Republican prisoners but the number is thought to have been well over 700 POWs. There were massive protests in support of the strike and support spread to prisons throughout the island. Men and women's prisons alike struck for better conditions and political status.
Two men died on this strike; they were Dennis Barry and Andrew Sullivan
. A number of people also died much later from the long term effects of the hungerstrike, namely Joseph Lacey
of Waterford who died only three weeks after ending the strike. The results of this strike were that all female prisoners were released and a large number of males as well. Conditions were improved to an extent that made them tolerable and livable.
In a separate strike that same year, John Oliver
died in Maidstone Prison in England. He was being imprisoned for his part in the Connaught Rangers
mutiny in India. (To be continued...)
Michael Collins and the Provos
Long vilified by the Republican leadsership of the O Conaill /O Bradaigh strain, as a Free Stater and a traitor, Collins
has been embraced and pushed to the forefront once again by Provo leaders like Adams
I suppose that this makes alot of sense when you step outside of this whole situation and look in. Adams has done similar things to Collins, though Gerry was never as wildly successful as the Big Fella. Gerry and the Provos signed over Republican prisoners' political status as well as other things hard-earned by Republican Volunteers throughout the conflict.
This man is idolized by Adams & company. This man, who signed six gerrymandered counties of a nine-county province of our island over to the Brits. Did you know that you can buy a 90Euro bronze statue of Collins
in the Provisional Sinn Fein bookshop? Absolutely villainous! A man long proclaimed a traitor of the worst kind by people calling themselves Republicans, now propped up as some sort of out-and-out hero? Only the Provo think-tank could spin a story like this and get away with it.
Republicans very well could have forgiven Collins for the signing the Treaty, the same way they did with Robert Barton
. He hadn't signed his "death warrant" until he attacked the Four Courts
. He got what he deserved, and it should be remembered as such by Republicans.
Collins' contribution to the War of Independence
was obviously an important one, but Brugha's
were no less impressive. The reason they aren't as well remembered is primarily because they died fighting for the "wrong" side in the eyes of the Free State's education system.
Collins, however, was a great man. He just happened to have been put in a terrible position for any person to be in. The Republican leadership chose the wrong men to represent them at the negotiating table in Britain. Collins could not bear the thought of losing countless more men to British forces, and Griffith
was not a soldier but a politician.
Mick did many great things, including leading the group which eventually dismantled the British intelligence network in Dublin and the rest of Leinster. He also supervised and organised many of the most spectacular attacks and events of the Tan War (i.e. 14 dead British agents in Nov 1920, springing DeValera from Lincoln in 1919, etc).
But, it is my opinion that Collins should have remained in Ireland and fought the war instead of playing the politician and selling off counties he had no right to sign away.
It is today that Ireland remembers Michael Collins, on the 82nd anniversary of his death at Beal na mBlath
, Co. Cork.
*reprint from Jan '04 of this blog, more pertinent around this time of year than its previous publication.
The aftermath of the 1981 Hungerstrike: An article of some sort of closure.
Having exhausted all means of protest, the brave men suffering in the H-Blocks called an end to the second Long Kesh strike in as many years. On the 3rd of October, the prisoner spokespersons released a statement
stating an end to the death and mourning.
The many reasons cited in this statement and elsewhere included Church deception in trying to push the strikers' families into breaking the Volunteers' wishes not to be brought off strike. They attempted to guilt the loved ones into believing the mens' souls would be damned to hell for their stand. It is typical of the treachery of the Catholic Church in Irish history.
After this deception, it was apparent that many of the men still on strike following the death of Micky Devine would be pulled off in light of any immediate danger to their lives. With this in mind, it was decided by the prisoners' that the strike was at a point where it would be pointless to carry on.
Their statement had been made with the murder of the ten Volunteers between May 5th and August 20th by the indifference and ignorance of the Conservative British government. Another thing that spoke loudly for the prisoners' cause was the large number of votes received by prisoners in elections both in the Six Counties and in the Free State.
Paddy Agnew topped the poll in Louth, Bobby Sands
was elected as MP for the Fermanagh/Tyrone constituency, and Kieran Doherty was elected for the Cavan/Monaghan constituency. First preference votes received by prisoners and prisoner representatives were as follows: Kieran Doherty
polled first preference 9,121 (15%); Paddy Agnew, Louth, 8,368 (18%); Joe McDonnell
, Sligo/Leitrim, 5,634; Martin Hurson
, Longford/Westmeath, 4,573 (10%); Sean McKenna (1980 hungerstriker
), Kerry North, 3,860; Kevin Lynch
, Waterford, 3,337; Tony O'Hara (Patsy's
brother), Dublin West, 3,034; Mairead Farrell
(later killed on Gibraltar), Cork North Central, 2,751 and Tom McAllister, Clare, 2,120. Also, later Owen Carson, a prisoner representative, won the Westminster by-election to replace the murdered Bobby Sands in Fermanagh/Tyrone.
The determination of the prisoners to see their cause through until their last breath captivated the people of Ireland. This was shown both by the above mentioned election results and also by the strength of the pan-nationalist front forged by the H-Block/Armagh Committees. Such unification was not seen since internment and the civil rights marches.
After 217 days of hunger striking
between the two protests, the blanketmen called off their death fast. Many Volunteers were still in the wings ready to take their place, but with no indication that the demands would be met, the prisoners and the movement as a whole felt that more dead Volunteers would accomplish very little.
In a purposely late move by the Hell-Bitch
Thatcher's government, political status was granted. It was granted at a time when the negative publicity would have been at a lull for the British. The concession that 10 men died and thousands suffered for was nothing more than a black eye for Thatcher's Conservatives. The Brits played the hardline and watched good men die only later to give the remaining brave men what they had long fought for.
All historically minded people need to remember the facts of this tragic event. It was the turning point that the new Belfast-based leadership of the Provos was waiting for. They began to shift Sinn Fein
to a more nationalist and less republican position. They entered candidates into the 1982 Assembly elections and pulled more than 10% of first preference vote. But this was not was those men died for. They died to see Ireland free of British tampering.
By running Provisional SF members in the Six County statelet's elections, the Adams' leadership of the Provos were doing nothing more than reinforcing the illegal border that hundreds of men died to abolish. It needs to be known that the Provos are not a Republican party. They are still on a shift that will ultimately see them joining the ranks of Parnell's Irish Party and Fianna Fail
. They are replacing the Stoops
as the constitutional nationalist party of the Six Counties.
INLA Volunteer Micky Devine
Michael Devine was born May 26th, 1954 on the former American army base, Springfield Camp, outside of Derry City. Unlike his comrades on hungerstrike, Micky did not come from a typically extended family. His father died when he was only 11 years old and his mother when he was a teenager. He grew up fast and fiercely nationalist.
Springfield Camp showed the true side of housing available to poor Catholics in the Derry area. It was meant only for short term living but this soon became extended indefinitely. It was actually into Micky's sixth year that the family finally moved to the newly built Creggan ghetto.
Micky took part in the original Derry riots in 1968 and there he developed his hatred for the RUC. He also participated in the Battle of the Bogside in the summer of '69. Twice in the month in a half, Micky ended up in the hospital after savage beatings from the RUC riot squads.
In 1970, Micky became involved with the civil rights movement as well as the Young Socialists and Labour Party. He became a member of the James Connolly 'Republican Club' and then, shortly after internment, a member of the Derry Brigade of the 'Official IRA'.
1972 was a terrible year for him. Micky was a part of the civil rights march turned bloody on January 30, 1972. Bloody Sunday
was a day that he would remember forever. His mother also died that year from a brain tumor.
Micky became disillusioned with the Sticks in 1973 and their unilateral ceasefire. With the founding of the IRSP
in 1974, Micky had finally the outlet for his socialist convictions. He joined up as one of the Irps and was one of the founding members of the PLA (People's Liberation Army, later to become the INLA
).Towards the end of 1973, Micky, then age 19, got married.
His wife, Margaret, was only seventeen. They lived in Ranmore Drive in Creggan and had two children: Michael, and Louise."Red Mick," as he was known both for his ginger hair and his political leanings, was eventually arrested in September of 1976 and charged for his part in an INLA weapon seeking operation. Also a part of this operation was a comrade and friend of Devine's, fellow hungerstriker Patsy O'Hara
Micky was on remand for nine long months in Crumlin Jail. Eventually he was brought to trial and convicted for the operation. Sentenced to 12 years, Micky immediately joined the blanket protest in the H Blocks.
After four years on the blanket, on the 21st of June, 1981, Micky joined the hungerstrike as the seventh man actively striking (3 having already died, Sands
Micky Devine refused to be labeled a criminal and for this and for Ireland he gave his life. He died on August 20, 1981, after 60 days on hungerstrike. He would be the last of the now revered ten. God rest his soul.
Vacation and Computer problems
Well, I have been back since the 11th of August (as I promised you all), but I really do have a valid excuse for my absence from this site. My computer went on the fritz at the absolute worst possible time. I had a 25 page course final thesis due on the 11th at 7pm, and by the 9th of August, I had it all complete and revised, ready for printing. I figured I would print it once I returned from the beach.
Let me tell you how wrong I was. My computer developed an "unmountable boot volume" error as well as an innumerable number of "hard errors" that I could not seem to fix. My files were unextractable, even in Safe Mode. I wanted to cry (to tell you the truth, I did a bit); but I sucked it up and wrote the whole damn paper again from my notes. Three and a half hours and 25 pages later, I had the worst pile of shite I have ever handed in to a professor. I was both proud of myself for finishing, and embarassed to hand the thing in.
I just took my computer in for a fix and just got it back today, so I'm back. No worries.
So thats my story and I'm sticking to it.
IRA Volunteer Thomas McElwee
Thomas McElwee was born on 30th of November, 1957 in Tamlaghtduff in the Bellaghy parish of south Derry. Born into a large Catholic family, Tom was the fifth of twelve children. His family lived in a small white-washed house that the father, Jim, built with his own hands.
Thomas and his brother Benedict along with their cousin Francis Hughes
, who lived right down the road, went to school together. They grew up together as friends and developed their ideas of nationalism together as well.
Thomas is remembered by the people of Bellaghy as being sincere and quiet. He liked to help his mother around the house. He also loved the outdoors and he and Benedict would get themselves into many predicaments in the woods and on the country roads. Thomas also had a very acute sense when it came to engines. He loved working with cars and his interest was even further fueled once he got his driver's license. He enjoyed playing records too, very often of republican ballads, at a time when the 'troubles' had barely begun.
Even before 1969, the McElwees, including Thomas, would sometimes go to folk concerts in the village where many of the ballads recalled the tradition of resistance to British injustice. At fourteen, Tom joined na Fianna Eireann
and began his activism to remove the British presence from Ireland. It was not long before he also joined Francis Hughes' independent unit of Volunteers operating in the South Derry area.
When this entire unit was incorporated into the Provisional IRA, Tom became one of the youngest Volunteers in the area. He was very active over the next few years; Tom took part in dozens of successful operations with his brother and cousin around the towns of Magherafelt, Bellaghy, Castledawson, and Maghera. These attacks consisted of booby-traps, ambushes, hit-and-run gun fights and landmine attacks. Their unit became one of the most successful and feared of the early 1970's.
Thomas had the reputation of a principled republican who knew what he was fighting for. He had a great appetite for history, especially local history. He was constantly reading about Republican events and happenings in the Bellaghy area over the last century.
Both because of good luck and his quiet nature, Thomas was never forced to go "on the run" like his famous cousin Francis. He continued to be harassed though, both by the Brits and the RUC. The McElwee home was raided on a number of occasions and Thomas and Benedict both were arrested. On the 9th of October 1976, Thomas and Benedict were involved in a pre-mature bomb explosion. Tom lost an eye while Benedict was comparably lucky, suffering only superficial burns and shock. There were two other Volunteers in the car as well; Colm Scullion, losing several toes and Sean McPeake, losing a leg.
After six weeks in RVH in Belfast, Thomas was transferred to Musgrave military hospital, joining his brother. A week before Christmas, they were both remanded to Crumlin Road jail. After eight months, they were brought to trail. The charges brought against them included: murder and possession of explosives. They were convicted of both charges and sentenced to twenty years.
The charge of murder was a sham. A girl had been killed in Ballymena the same day the bomb prematurely exploded in the car carrying the IRA Volunteers. Nearly half a dozen other Volunteers arrested in the South Derry area were also charged with this death. Tom and Benedict both appealed the charge and it was later knocked down to manslaughter.
Imprisonment was particularly harsh for the McElwee brothers, who were often singled out by prison warders, angry at the brothers' refusal to accept any form of criminal treatment. For a while they were able to keep in touch with each other as they were both in H6 , but they were eventually split up and had hardly any opportunity to see each other at all for over two years.
After years on the blanket, the brothers joined the thirty strong hungerstrike in December of 1980
to stand up for the rights of the prisoners. As Sean McKenna
neared death, the strike was called off as an apparent deal was struck with the British. It would not be known until mid January that this deal was a sham and the Brits had backed out. Thomas and Benedict put their names in for the 1981 strike but Tom was the one chosen to make the sacrifice.
The determination he showed and his youth together made a statement. He died on August 8th, 1981 after refusing food for 62 days. He remained determined and unbroken
. His statement had been made. God bless his soul.
Going on holidayBe back Wednesday, August 11th. Hope everyone is well!
A friend of mine, also named Sean (FFS! how many of us are there?!) has recently started a blog of his own. He's not much for politics, but he has some interesting writing (some of it is quite bad, actually ) . He's asked me to give him a plug of sorts so this is it:
IRA Volunteer Kieran Doherty
Kieran was born the 18th of 1955 in the Andersonstown district of West Belfast. He was one of six children to a large working class family. Having a normal childhood, Kieran excelled in sport. He received an Antrim minor metal for GAA while playing for St. Theresa's GAC.
Kieran and his brothers took up cycling and formed a club within their church. St. Thomas' cycling club would later be ruined by internment. There would be so many of Andytown's boys behind the wire that Brendan Doherty would ask his mother when it would be his "turn to go where the big boys go."
In the summer of 1971, Kieran began an apprenticeship as a heating engineer but never finished because the firm he was working with closed down only months after he had begun. After that, he joined his father as a floor tile worker.
Following the hardest wave of internment, Kieran became disgusted with the treatment of his peers and family members at the hands of the Brits. He had never before been interested in politics, but in 1971 he joined Na Fianna Eireann, the Republican youth movementt. He soon excelled as a member of that organisation and put him self forth to be recruited by the IRA.
The Provisional IRA members in his area did take notice to Kieran but so did the Brits and soon his family became a constant target for harassment. In October of 1972, he was drug away in the middle of the night by the British who ignored pleas by his parents that he was under 17. They later took a copy of his birth certificate down to the local barracks and forced the Brits to release him.
The Brits were ten days to early; but they were promptly back on the 16th to intern Kieran. He was warned by relativess in the area on his way home from work and hitched a ride to Limerick until the heat came down a bit. He hated being away from Belfast and was back on active duty after Christmas.
Less then a month back, he was arrested and taken to Castlereagh for questioning. After the typical three day questioning period, Kieran was interred in Long Kesh. He would be one of the last internees released in 1975, spending nearly two full years in the cages.
Seething at his imprisonment, he spent his time in lock up fine-tuning his military mind. He took part in the burning of a number of buildings and huts in the concentration camp in October of 1974. Released in November 1975, he immediately reported back to his unit. He joined up with a team of Volunteers from around Rossnareen which gave the Brits in Andytown many sleepless for a full six months until a wave of arrests nearly wiped out the whole unit.
Known by his comrades and friends as "Big Doc," Kieran helped to grind down the Brits in his area. As an active operator, he is remembered as a careful perfectionist who gave his comrades a feeling of safety during operations.
Kieran was picked up in August 1976 after an operation against the RUC, completely unarmed. He was alter charged with posession of firearms and explosives and auto theft. The first two charges had no legal merit at all, and the man testifying against Kieran perjured on both counts to see Big Doc convicted in the juryless courts.
Put on remand in Crumlin Road Jail, he met and became friends with Francis Hughes. Each had great admiration for the other and friends remember the striking similarities in their personalities. They were always defiant and never would give up.
He was sentenced to 18 years for the charges brought against him. Upon entering Long Kesh in January 1978, he immediately joined the blanket and no-wash protests. He spent nearly 3 years on the blanket and only came off when the hungerstrike began. In the H-Blocks he is remembered as being ever defiant to the warders; refusing to acknowledge them as having any authority.
Not surprising to anyone who knew or fought alongside Kieran, he joined the hungerstrike following the deaths of Patsy O'Hara and Ray McCreesh on May 22nd. On June 9th, Kieran stood as a candidate for the Cavan/Monaghan constituency and was elected as a TD. On August 2nd, 1981, Kieran Doherty died after 73 days refusing food. He died for his belief in justice for all Irishmen. He died defiant and unbroken by British oppression.
Hungerstrike Commemorative Page
INLA Volunteer Kevin Lynch
was born in the village of Park, not far from the town of Dungiven as the youngest of a large Catholic family. Dungiven in 1981 was a small town of a few thousand people but its citizens were predominantly nationalist. Large contingents of both British soldiers and RUC were present in the area.
Kevin had a normal childhood and was very active in GAA. He excelled in both Gaelic football and hurling and played on championships teams in both sports. He also had a short stint as a boxer at St. Canice's and reached the Co. Derry final. He is remembered as a great athelete.
At age fifteen, Kevin left school and began to work with his father as a builder. After a year or so with his father, he joined his brothers to work in Bedford, England in 1973. Shortly after he returned home, he and nine other lads were stopped by a unit of Brits and put against a wall. They were given a bad kicking and two of them were drug away to the barracks.
It was around this time that Kevin joined the INLA, most likely with this event in mind. His brother Michael recalls that "he would never let himself be walked on." He decided to stand up for his rights as an Irishman.
His active service was short, less than six months. He was involved in an ambush in which an RUC man was badly wounded in November of 1976. The RUC decided to make a move against suspected INLA activists in the Dungiven area beginning in December. On the 2nd of that month, the RUC came to drag Kevin from his home. A number of other INLA men were arrested in the local area during that swoop.
After a thre day interrogation period at Castlereagh, a string of charges were brought against Kevin; including conspiracy, taking part in a punishment shooting and taking "legally" held shotguns. After a year on remand in the Crum, Kevin was tried in the Diplock courts and sentenced to ten years on all charges.
He immediately joined the blanket men in H3 on protest and found himself in a cell with his childhood mate Liam McCloskey. They stayed together until the hungerstrike of 1981. Kevin and Liam both took part in the 34 man fast that took place towards the end of the 1980 hungerstrike.
INLA prisoners took a large amount of abuse from the screws and Kevin was no exception to the rule. He was "put on the boards" on a number of occasions. This brutal practice could last up to a fortnight.
He spent four and a half years on the blanket and the day after the deaths of Ray McCreesh
and Patsy O'Hara
, he joined the hungerstrike. He was resolute in his strike and died after 71 days on fast: August 1st, 1981
. Ar dheis Dé go raibh a anam