Irish hunger strike remembered

May 18, 2007

On May 12, 60 people marked the anniversary of the deaths in 1981 of 10 Irish republican hunger strikers in the H-Blocks of Long Kesh prison in Northern Ireland, who were fighting for their right to be recognised and treated as political prisoners. The commemoration, held at the Gaelic Club, was organised by the Sydney Cairde (Friends of) Sinn Fein group.

Eamon O' Connor, who at the age of 27 went on a hunger strike in Sydney in August 1981 that lasted 39 days, spoke at the event, describing the factors and motivation behind his decision. Footage of O'Connor, and some of the street protests and other activities organised at the time, was also shown.

Robin Murphy, who was a leader of the solidarity campaign in Wollongong in 1981, described how the Waterside Workers Federation at Port Kembla forced a British ship to stay docked for days in an act of solidarity with the H-Block prisoners.

Speakers on the panel and from the audience discussed the need for international solidarity with people around the world suffering similar injustices today, such as the prisoners held by the US military at Guantanamo Bay and refugees in Australian detention centres. For information about upcoming Cairde Sinn Fein events, email Ciaran at ciaranquinn@ireland.com.

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