July 1981


Uncovering the Truth About the 1981 Hunger Strike

Pádraic Wilson: The hunger strikes of ’81 and what they mean today

The hunger strikes of ’81 and what they mean today
Andersonstown News
Thursday 14th of August 2009
by Francesca ryan

The 1981 hunger strike is to be remembered at an event being held at Whiterock Leisure Centre this Sunday.

Leading Belfast republican Pádraic Wilson will share his memories of his time on the blanket and the dark days of 1981.

Pádraic, Sinn Féin’s Director of International Affairs, spent three separate stints in prison and recalls vividly the effect both the hunger strike and the hunger strikers had on him.

Pádraic told the Andersonstown News that the talk will focus on his time in Long Kesh from 1976 to 1982.

“I was in Long Kesh during the blanket protest and the hunger strikes of 1980 and 1981,” he said.

“I knew most of the hungerstrikers, some from the outside and others I got to know while inside. I will be talking about the hunger strke in general and what it meant for me.”

Pádraic says it was Kieran Doherty who gave him the morale boost he needed to get through the bleakest of times in Long Kesh.

“Of all the hunger strikers, I knew Kieran Doherty the best,” he said.

“He lived a few streets away from me and was just a few years older than me.

“Kieran was someone everyone looked up to, literally, because of his height, but also because he was an inspiration.

“Big Doc just instilled confidence in everyone, he was practically fearless. Just standing beside him at Mass on a Sunday – the only time we were allowed out of our cells – was enough to boost my morale.

“Even the screws were afraid of him and would never take him on one-to-one like they would have done with the others. He was the one who kept my morale going.”

Pádraic is also ready to address the current debate surrounding the hunger strike.

“There is no way I could talk about that time without mentioning that there is some controversy at the minute regarding the hunger strike.

“For anyone to suggest that Margaret Thatcher and her government wanted to offer a deal that republicans rejected, well, they need their heads examined.

“I intend to talk about this in reference to the hunger strikes of 1980 and 1981.”

Pádraic will also touch on the path republicanism has taken in the years following the hunger strikes right through to today’s peace process.

“I’m going to speak about the relevance of the hunger strike in terms of where we are now.

“For me, it is the same struggle with the same objectives, the only thing that has changed is the way of achieving the objectives.”

Pádraic will be speaking at the commemoration night in Whiterock Leisure Centre this Sunday (August 16).

Admission is £5 and the doors open at 7pm.

Sourced from The Andersonstown News


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