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Kelly calls for large attendance at Hunger Strike rally in Ballina

4 August, 2017 - by Gerry Kelly

Leading Republican and former Hunger Striker Gerry Kelly MLA has called for a big turnout at next weekend’s National Hunger Strike Commemoration in Ballina, Co. Mayo.

The Commemoration march and rally takes place in Ballina at 3pm Sunday, 13 August.

Kelly, who has been a key figure in the peace process and a former Government Minister in the North, is a former political prisoner who was on Hunger Strike with Mayo men Michael Gaughan and Frank Stagg and others in an English Prison in the 1970s.

He is the keynote speaker at next weekend's Commemoration which is an annual event held to remember the 1981 Hunger Strike in which ten young men: Bobby Sands, Francis Hughes, Raymond McCreesh, Patsy O'Hara, Joe McDonnell, Martin Hurson, Kevin Lynch, Kieran Doherty, Thomas McElwee, and Mickey Devine died in the H-Blocks of Long Kesh.

This year’s event will also recall the sacrifice of Mayo republicans; Michael Gaughan and Frank Stagg who died on hunger strike in English jails in the 1970s. 

The memory of another Mayo man, Seán ‘Jack’ McNeela, who died on hunger strike in 1940 along with his friend and comrade Tony D’Arcy from neighbouring Co. Galway will also feature prominently at the commemoration.

It is the first time the event has taken place in Connacht.

Gerry Kelly said:

“The 1981 Hunger Strike saw the men and women of the H-Blocks and Armagh women’s prison, and the tens of thousands who supported them, thwart British Government efforts to criminalise the struggle for a free and united Ireland.

“The names of Bobby Sands and his fellow Hunger Strikers are known the world over and are an inspiration to all struggling for freedom, rights, and human dignity.

“It is fitting that this year’s commemoration will be held in the home county of Michael and Frank Stagg.

“This year’s commemorative events are a great opportunity to remember these men and to celebrate their lives.

“I would encourage as many people, especially young people from Mayo, to join in remembering them this weekend, to celebrate their lives and salute their bravery.

“The Commemoration march and rally takes place in Ballina at 3pm Sunday, 13 August. I hope to see a large attendance there.” 

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