Anderson addresses launch of new hunger strike book
Speaking today at the Launch of Danny Morrison’s new book “Hunger Strike: Reflections on the 1981 Republican Hunger Strike”, MEP Martina Anderson said:
“At the age of 12, as a child of the Battle of the Bogside, I felt older and wiser than my age. I knew that I was born into a State that did not want me.
“Two years later I was deeply distressed at the thought of Frank Stagg, an Irish Man in 1976, dying on hunger strike in Wakefield prison. I was utterly sickened when Frank’s remains were stolen by the Irish Government and buried under tonnes of concrete.
“During the 1981 Hunger Strikes I was out on bail, and I attended all the hunger striker’s funerals.
“After I was arrested in England- I served 13 months on remand in the jail where the Hunger Striker Michael Gaughan was first imprisoned and refused political status- Brixton Prison.
“I was imprisoned as one of two women, in a jail of 600 men- where we were subjugated to strip searches sometimes up to six times a day.
“When I was then moved to Durham Jail, the Governor came into my cell one night and told me to put any notion of going on Hunger Strike out of my head. He said he would take pleasure in sending me home in a box like he did to Frank Stagg in Wakefield Prison.
“25 Years ago last month, myself, my husband Paul Kavanagh, Ella O’Dwyer and Paddy McLaughlin were the first four Republican PoWs to be repatriated- the spirit and sacrifice of Frank Stagg and Michael Gaughan flew back to Ireland with us.
“I have been asked to ‘tone it down’ all of my life and only use acceptable language - many would prefer Irish Republicans to lie down and wear sack cloth and ashes.
“The last three words Bobby Sands wrote into his prison diary were ‘Tiocfaidh ár lá’.
The Hunger Strikers were never like “the men of art”- the Hunger Strikers had big hears, solid back-bones and died on hunger strike rather than wear sack cloth and ashes - they are our heroes.”