Cill Dara Shinn Féin Poblachtach

Six-County State is an obstacle to a New Ireland

Speaking at a commemoration of the 1981 Hunger Striker Kevin Lynch in Dungiven Co Derry on Saturday August 6 the President of Republican Sinn Féin Des Dalton said:

“Here in Dungiven in North Derry we stand with pride in commemoration of Kevin Lynch. One of ten young Irish men who by their sacrifice and heroism captured the imagination of Ireland and the world, reminding one and all that ‘Ireland unfree shall never be at peace.’ Along with Kevin we also remember his fellow Derry men, Patsy O’Hara, Thomas McElwee, Francis Hughes and Mickey Devine. Like Co Cork, Derry saw five of her sons endure the long and lonely path of the hunger strike. Using their bodies as weapon of last resort at which to strike at British occupation.

“Kevin Lynch was born in the village of Park – eight miles from here on May 25 1956. He was the youngest in a family of eight. In his teens he moved to Dungiven or Dun Gheimhin (Given’s Fort) with his family. Like his father and brothers Kevin was a builder by trade. He had a passion for all things Irish and this was reflected in his love of Gaelic games and particularly hurling. He played right half-back with St Patrick’s Hurling Club in the inaugural Feile na nGael held in Thurles Co Tipperary in 1971. Despite only having had his appendix removed ten days prior to the competition Kevin was instrumental in his club winning their division over the two days. He captained Derry to an All-Ireland U16 title in 1972.

“He also played football and took up boxing as well. The fact the local hurling club was named in his honour reflects the esteem with which the Gaels of Dungiven held and still hold Kevin. Living in such a strongly nationalist community he quickly came face to face with the harsh reality of British Rule as experienced by the nationalist people of the Six Counties. This included a beating he and nine other young men suffered at the hands of the British Army as they returned home from a dance.

“His keen sense of justice and principle soon led him to become active in the struggle to end British interference in Ireland when he joined the INLA. Kevin was active with his local unit in acquiring arms right up to his arrest on December 2 1976. Following his arrest Kevin suffered a severe beating in the infamous Castlereagh interrogation centre following which he was charged with possession of weapons. Following a year on remand in Crumlin Road Jail a Diplock non-jury court sentenced him to 10 years. He at once took his place in the ranks of the ‘Blanket Men’ in the H Blocks of Long Kesh. He brought with him to the H Blocks the qualities, which marked him out on the hurling or football field: courage; loyalty and a will to win.

“Kevin Lynch like his comrades was determined that the British machine would not break them or criminalise the struggle for Irish Freedom. During a visit with his parents he told them: ‘If they took everything else away they’d never take my principles.’

“Kevin joined the first hunger strike of October to December 1980 for the last five days. Once it became clear the British had reneged on the terms agreed for ending that hunger strike the men in Long Kesh were more determined than ever to see their fight through to a finish. Kevin was among the first to volunteer for the second hunger strike, which began with Bobby Sands on March 1. On May 23 Kevin began his long hunger for justice. During the 26-County Elections in June of that year he contested the Waterford constituency where he won more than 3,753 votes as an H Block candidate. Towards the end of his hunger strike Kevin Lynch declared that what he and his comrades were engaged in was an extension of the war against British Rule that was being waged outside: ‘I am a soldier. We’re all soldiers. We’re fighting a war – and our war is in here’. Kevin Lynch died on August 1 1981 following 71 days on hunger strike.

“In 1998 the Provisionals under the terms of the Stormont Agreement signed away the rights won on the back of the sacrifice of Kevin Lynch; Bobby Sands; Patsy O’Hara; ;Mickey Devine and their comrades. As a result today young Irishmen in Maghaberry Prison are enagaged in the same struggle against the same enemy for the same principle. Locked in their cells for 24 hours a day, these young Republican POWs are engaged in a ‘Dirty Protest’. They are being denied the right to legal or family visits. Even their right to post letters has been denied them. In August of last year an Agreement – independently mediated – laid the basis for a just settlement. Despite this the Stormont Justice Minister David Ford and his regime reneged on this Agreement and have instead forced the Republican Prisoners to return to protest.

“The actions of the Brtitsh State over past months have exposed the reality of British Rule in Ireland despite the lies and spin of the Provos and their apologists. The arrest and charging of the President and Vice President of Republican Sinn Féin on July 6 in relation to a march for Republican veteran Martin Corey held in Lurgan on January 23 is part of a deliberate targetting of Republican Sinn Féin by both the British and 26-County States. The oppsoition of both the Six-County PPS as well as the RUC/PSNI to bail for both Des Dalton and Fergal Moore shows the clear intention was to intern both RSF’s President and Vice President.

“Our newly appointed Publicity Officer Geraldine McNamara had her home in Tipperary raided by the 26-County Special Branch on June 30 and her mobile phone siezed. In May two members of Republican Sinn Féin were arrested and charged in relation to an interview they gave to Channel Four News in September of last year. Other members are also being charged with participating in the Lurgan march while the RUC/PSNI have issued warning letters regarding the Easter 1916 commemorations in Lurgan and Armagh.

“It is evident that the undiluted message of revolutionary Irish Republicanism delivered by Republican Sinn Féin is feared by Westminster, Stormont and Leinster House. It is a message and a cause whose roots lie deep within the hearts of Irish people. The age-old tactic of locking up and silencing the very idea of Irish freedom has failed in the past and history teaches us will fail again today and in the future.

“When Loyalists attacked nationalist homes in Belfast’s Short Strand in June the immediate response of the RUC/PSNI was to arrest two nationalists while within days Stormont First Minister Peter Robinson was negotiating with the UVF who carried out the attacks.

“While all of this is going on a gravely ill man, Brendan Lillis is being held in appalling conditions in Maghaberry Prison. He is imprisoned for no other reason than the vindictiveness of the British Government and the Stormont Regime. Shame on David Ford and the rest of his junta. The continued internment without trial of Brendan Lillis is a gross violation of his most basic human rights. We demand the immediate and unconditional release of Brendan Lillis.

“We also demand the immediate release of Martin Corey – another veteran Republican – who has been interned without trial since April 2010. At the end of July he was told that he must serve a further four years in prison. Martin Corey served 19 years in Long Kesh making him the longest serving prisoner there. Despite this he is in Maghaberry today simply because he refuses to compromise with the occupier of his country.

“In the last week in July five nationalists were arrested in a high profile swoop, which the British Colonial Police trumpeted as being linked to the death of RUC/PSNI man Ronan Kerr in April. All were released within two days without charge. One of the men was in the US at the time of the attack in which Ronan Kerr was killed. Yet another case of ‘round up the usual suspects’.

“The Six-County State is a gerrymandered remnant of British Rule. It can never be a platform from which to build a New Ireland. It is an obstacle to the progress of the Irish people towards the All-Ireland Republic of Easter Week. We believe our proposals for a Federal Ireland contained in Éire Nua provide the basis for true All-Ireland democracy.

“Kevin Lynch; Patsy O’Hara; Francis Hughes; Tom McElwee and Mickey Devine all laid down their young lives so that the Irish Nation might live. Their faith was a Fenian Faith, which would brook no compromise with the invader. To keep faith with the ideals for which they lived and died is our solemn duty. Bobby Sands left this advice for future generations: ‘If they aren't able to destroy the desire for freedom, they won't break you. They won't break me because the desire for freedom, and the freedom of the Irish people, is in my heart. The day will dawn when all the people of Ireland will have the desire for freedom to show. It is then we'll see the rising of the moon.’”

An Phoblacht Abú

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"We of Republican Sinn Féin are the nucleus, which represents what Emmet represented,
the soul of Ireland,the prophetic shock minority, those who are neither purchased nor intimidated."

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