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Институт стратегического анализа нарративных систем
(ИСАНС)
L'institut de l'analyse strategique des systemes narratifs
(IASSN)
Інститут стратегічного аналізу наративних систем
(ІСАНС)



статья

Photos from the commemoration, including the mural and memorial
plaque: http://www.tinyurl.com/zc27f

21 May 2006
Oration at Patsy O'Hara Commemoration

[Delivered by Patsy's friend and comrade, Gerard 'Cocker' Murray (IRSP
member and ex-INLA prisoner), during the dedication of a mural and
memorial plaque in Patsy's honor in Derry.]

Friends and comrades, it is indeed a great honour and privilege to be
standing here today to commemorate the unveiling of this fine mural
to the memory of Volunteer Patsy O'Hara on this the 25th anniversary
of his death.

There has been a lot of hard work put into it so that people from here
and afar, young and old, will recognise who he represented and the
sacrifice he gave for what he believed in.

I would also ask you to remember Raymond McCreesh who also died on
hunger strike the same day.

Twenty-three year old Patsy O'Hara from here in Derry City was the
former leader of the Irish National Liberation Army prisoners in the
H-Blocks. He joined IRA Volunteer Raymond McCreesh on hunger strike on
March 22nd 1981, three weeks after Bobby Sands and one week after
Francis Hughes.

Patsy O'Hara was born on July 11th 1957 at Bishop Street here in
Derry. His parents owned a small public house and grocery shop, above
which the family lived. His eldest brother Sean Seamus was interned in
the cages of Long Kesh for almost four years. The second eldest in the
family, Tony, was imprisoned in the H-Blocks for five years, which he
served in full, with no remission. During this time his brother Patsy
was joining the hunger strike.

From the age of 17, Patsy had been arrested and charged on several
occasions on both sides of the border. Ironically in all the cases the
charges were ultimately dropped.

This was a common practice in the seventies when young Catholics were
arrested on trumped up charges only to have them dropped after a few
months.

This tactic was not something that would deter Patsy as he continued
with his political ideals. Such was his enthusiasm and commitment that
he was elected to the Ard-Chomhairle of the IRSP, a position he held
right up to his arrest and eventual imprisonment.

He was arrested in May 1979 and was charged with possession of a hand
grenade and sent to Crumlin Road Prison. In January 1980 he was
sentenced to eight years in prison and immediately went on the blanket
protest in Long Kesh.

After the first hunger strike, Patsy soon became officer commanding
the Irish National Liberation Army prisoners on the protest and was a
figure that everyone looked up to. Unfortunately due to British
intransigence and apparent double-dealing on the five basic demands, it
was decided that another hunger strike was to begin.

The five demands were 1. no prison uniform, 2. no prison work, 3. free
association, 4. 1 letter, 1 parcel, 1 visit per week, and 5.
restoration of lost remission.

The Starry Plough carried an article at that time stating that the
prisoners announced "that if their demands were not met, they would
recommence a hunger strike on march the 1st. Irish republican
socialist prisoners will be represented on this hunger strike.

"The IRSP/INLA prisoners are determined to continue their opposition
to the criminalisation policies of the British government. IRSP
opposition to the H-Blocks has existed ever since Merlyn Rees
announced his proposals for the ending of special category status.

"At a meeting of representatives of the various organisations in long
kesh [Provisonials, IRSP, Officials, UDA and UVF], the British tried
to sell the idea of criminalisation in return for remission of
sentences, a welfare centre and cash.

"IRSP representatives -­ including special category prisoners
spokesman Frank Gallagher -­ stated that there was no way that the
IRSP would accept the H-Blocks."

That has been the IRSP position ever since.

Writing shortly before the hunger strike began, Patsy O'Hara grimly
declared "we stand for the freedom of the Irish nation so that future
generations will enjoy the prosperity they rightly deserve, free from
foreign interference, oppression and exploitation. The real criminals
are the British imperialists who have thrived on the blood and sweat
of generations of Irish men. They have maintained control of Ireland
through force of arms and there is only one way to end it. I would
rather die than rot in this concrete tomb for years to come."

On March the 22nd 1981, Patsy was the first INLA prisoner to go on
hunger strike and led by example, a trait that he carried all his
life. Unfortunately, after 61 days Volunteer Patsy O'Hara INLA
breathed his last.

I first met Patsy in the summer of 1979 in Crumlin Road Prison and
immediately recognised that he was an astute political thinker, as was
proven by his position on the Ard-Chomhairle of the IRSP.

But he was also a leader of men, as I soon realised as we ambled
aimlessly around C-wing yard. We were all young men but he was someone
to look up to as he had the charisma of having done all this before.
Although he was tall in stature he treated everyone as an equal as he
was able to, through his experience, help new arrivals to settle in.

His commitment to a cause was second to none as he led by example.
There was a protest going on in the Crum at the time in support of
political status, which involved refusal to shave or have your hair
cut, Patsy had no hesitation in joining this. So to the new arrival,
the yard seemed like a somewhat culture shock, but as I walked out
that first day, Patsy was one of the first over to greet me to my new
surroundings.

You need to experience the relief of seeing a friendly face after
spending three days in Castlereagh interrogation centre. Over the
coming months as we walked around we talked about, among other things,
the political situation outside, how things were progressing and what
could be done by the prisoners to support our movement as a whole.
Although we were roughly the same age, Patsy seemed head and shoulders
above me when it came to political discussions.

I always remember looking at him with his wispy beard and longish hair
and thinking to myself that this man is a committed revolutionary.
Little did I realise that in the space of two short years all that
revolutionary spirit and determination would be gone.

Now, when I look at his face on this mural, I find myself drifting
back all those years ago to those months on remand and remembering our
discussions as we ambled around C-wing yard. I hope that I have gained
some benefit from those experiences.

He gave his life for what he believed in and paid the ultimate
sacrifice. He was a republican socialist and a committed follower of
Connolly and Mellows as their thinking and ideals directed him to join
the Republican Socialist Movement.

He had a burning sense of injustice and even on his deathbed with his
body weak and frail his spirit was still shining bright when as he
told those dearest to him "let the fight go on."

Recently it has been said that Patsy and his comrades would in all
likelihood have supported the Good Friday Agreement. We cannot speak
for all the hunger strikers but we can speak for Patsy O'Hara, Kevin
Lynch and Mickey Devine. They joined our movement to end British rule
and establish a socialist republic. That is what they believed then.
They were not young naive men. They were mature, committed
revolutionaries.

Others can change their views, which is their prerogative. We have not,
and we do not believe Patsy, Kevin or Mickey would have either.
But there is one thing I can say for definite, and that is Patsy
O'Hara died as a republican socialist, and a Volunteer in the Irish
National Liberation Army.

Six more volunteers in the IRA and the INLA died before the hunger
strike ended that year and many more families and friends were
affected by it all.

The hunger strike in Long Kesh was 25 years ago, yet it is so vivid in
most peoples minds. Let us not forget what these prisoners went
through day after day. Locked up 24 hours a day in a tiny cell,
unwashed and unshaven, constantly hosed down with cold water, naked
except for a blanket, cold food, often with maggots in it, freezing in
the winter months and the constant threat of the screws opening the
cell door to deliver their customary brutality. These are things that
never should be forgotten. Margaret Thatcher knew all this but she did
nothing to stop it. To her the prisoners in Long Kesh meant nothing.

So that it is why it is so important to educate the young people of
today about the ultimate sacrifice the ten brave men gave in that
prison all those years ago. They made strong decisions and stood by
them to the death and it became world-wide news.

There are streets named after them, songs written about them, books
dedicated to them and their names are known internationally.
Even today in distant far off shores people know about that hunger
strike.

Yet in Turkey at this present time there is a hunger strike taking
place with numerous lives lost and little being said or done to help.
They took their inspiration and demands from those men who gave their
lives in 1981. They also are fighting for basic human rights.

Today also we see Irish political prisoners being denied the status
that the hunger strikers gave their lives for. In a single stroke of a
pen political status was signed away by the parties who signed up to
the GFA. If we supported the prisoners in 1981 for those just demands,
then by extension we must support the prisoners of today in their
quest for the restoration of political status.

There were ten men who died during those fateful months between May
and August and I think it is fitting that we spare a thought for them all.

Volunteer Bobby Sands IRA
Volunteer Francis Hughes IRA
Volunteer Ray McCreesh IRA
Volunteer Patsy O'Hara INLA
Volunteer Joe McDonnell IRA
Volunteer Martin Hurson IRA
Volunteer Kevin Lynch INLA
Volunteer Kieran Doherty IRA
Volunteer Tom McElwee IRA
Volunteer Mickey Devine INLA

I hope this mural is a fitting tribute to a brave young man who lay
unbowed and unbroken for 61 days in Long Kesh Prison. I can only say I
am proud to have known Patsy O'Hara. He will always be remembered not
only by his family but by all the people of Derry, both young and old.

Volunteer Patsy O'Hara, son, brother, comrade, revolutionary, soldier
and hunger striker, we salute you!

http://community.livejournal.com/eireshaor/162881.html

nationalvanguard



 

   
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