Patsy O’Hara was born in 1957 Bishop Street, Derry, and joined Na Fianna in 1970 and the local Sinn Féin cumann in 1971 and, in August was shot in the leg by British soldiers. In 1972 he joined the Republican Clubs and in 1975 the IRSP. He was imprisoned multiple times, the final time being in January 1979 for possession of a hand grenade (Bobby Sands Trust). He went on hunger strike 41 years ago tomorrow (March 22nd) and was the first of the three INLA hunger strikers to die in 1981. The long-standing mural in Bishop Street was repainted for the 40th anniversary of his death. (For the previous version, see Let The Fight Go On.)
“Óglach Patsy O’Hara, INLA Derry Brigade, Irish hunger striker, who died after 61 days on 21st May 1981, age 23. Last words ‘Let the fight go on’.”
“After we are gone, what will you say you were doing? Will you say you were with us in our struggle or where you conforming to very system that drove us to our deaths?”
Here are two IRSP pieces commemorating the 40th anniversary of the 1981 hunger strike. The first, above and immediately below, is from Ard Eoin/Ardoyne (Béal Feirste/Belfast) with colour (or at least, colour-ised) portraits of the ten who died on either side of an image from Keven Lynch’s funeral cortège. It is the same as the board seen on the lower Falls in For A Socialist Republic. At the bottom is a poster from Strabane calling people to gather in remembrance in Derry.
“The young and the old rallied around/To help fight the forces of the British crown/Unsung heroes too many to name/Defended Unity flats and never sought fame”. Unity flats were built in 1968 to replace the old Carrick Hill but immediately came under repeated attack by loyalists from the nearby Peter’s Hill and Shankill; by 1987 their demolition had been approved but because of difficulty in rehousing residents (Hansard), the new Carrick Hill was not completed until 2009 (BelTel). The flats have a Facebook page, Growing Up In Unity Flats. The plaques shown today are on the side of the newsagents in the new Carrick Hill.
“A free Ireland will control its own destiny from the plough to the stars.” James Connolly explained the significance of “the plough in the stars” (Ursa Major) as a symbol of Irish revolutionary socialism. He and Seamus Costello, heroes of the IRSP (web) are painted on James Connolly house in Chamberlain Street, Derry. Also home to Teach Na Fáilte, the Republican Socialist Ex-Prisoners group.
In April, the Workers’ Party (web | web | tw | Fb | Fb) suffered a leadership challenge and a split in which its sole elected representative – Ted Tynan on Cork county council – left the party (statement). This is only the latest in a long line of splits, going back to the formation of the modern Workers’ Party, from a split in Sinn Féin in 1970 (WP).
“National Commemoration Committee – erected in memory of all those comrades who dedicated their lives for the establishment of a democratic, secular, socialist republic. ‘I have given whatever I had to give for the party, the people of Ireland, and for a better world, but others have given more, much more. Comrades have given their lives’ – Tomás Mac Giolla TD. ‘For the unity of Protestant, Catholic and Dissenter.'”
“Saoirse go deo.” INLA volunteer Kevin Lynch went on hunger strike 40 years ago yesterday, May 23rd, 1981. He would die 71 days later, on August 1st. His funeral is depicted above, part of a new IRSP/IRSM board commemorating the 40th anniversary of the 1981 hunger strikes. The board is flanked by two other IRSP boards, one against the PSNI (“96% of Divis residents do not support the PSNI – defund, disarm, disband”) and one dedicated to founder Seamus Costello (“He was the only one who truly understood what James Connolly meant when he spoke of his vision of the freedom of the Irish people.” – Nora Connolly at Costello’s funeral)
Joe McCann was IRA/OIRA OC in the Markets area of Belfast. He was famously photographed among burning buildings in Inglis’s bakery, during protests against the introduction on internment, crouched beneath a Starry Plough and holding an M1. (For more, see Battle Of The Markets, which features the same photograph.) For McCann’s death the following year (on April 15th, 1972) see Joe McCann. This new board replaces a tarp in the same location: see On The Brink Of Sectarian Disaster.
Cúchulainn stands dying; the raven on his shoulder will signal his death. “This memorial is dedicated to all the brave and gallant men and women of the Old IRA (Óglaigh na hÉireann) and Cumann na mBán who fought in all of the campaigns from the 1920s War of Independence onwards.”
The Irish tricolour with crossed rifles was the flag of the Irish Volunteers (Óglaigh na hÉireann), the splits in which gave rise all the subsequent IRAs.
For a roll of honour 1916-1966, including some profiles, see Treason Felony.
“Socialism is neither Protestant nor Catholic, Christian nor Freethinker, Buddhist, Mahometan, nor Jews [sic]. It is only human. We of the Socialist working class realise that as we suffer together we must work together that we may enjoy together. We reject the firebrand of capitalist warfare and offer you the olive leaf of brotherhood and justice to and for all.” From part 6 of Connolly’s Labour, Nationality And Religion in 1910. The mural is in Beechview Park, across the street from Áras Uí Chonghaile/James Connolly Visitor Centre.
“The true revolutionary is guided by a great feeling of love. It is impossible to think of a genuine revolutionary lacking this quality” – Che Guevara Lynch. The INLA’s Kevin Lynch died in the second hunger strike after 71 days. He is buried in Dungiven, where this memorial sits on the main road between Derry and Maghera.
“I ndíl chuimhne ar Óglach Kevin Lynch a fuair bás ar stailc ocrais ar son saoirse, 1ú Lúnasa 1981 [who died on a hunger strike for freedom, 1st August 1981]. Erected by the Irish Republican Socialist Ex-Prisoners Memorial Committee.”