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3 August 2006 Edition

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Remembering 1981 Kevin Lynch and Kieran Doherty TD honoured - Massive Hunger Strike rally for Casement Park on the 13th

Hunger Strikers Kevin Lynch and Kieran Doherty TD were honoured at events around the country in the past week as preparations continue for the culmination of the 25th anniversary of the 1981 Hunger Strike with a march through Belfast and rally at Casement Park on Sunday 13 August.

The National Hunger Strike Commemoration Committee and representatives of the families of the Hunger Strikers announced details of the march and rally which is expected to draw many thousands of people from all over Ireland and abroad. There was puzzlement among many GAA members at a ruling by the Central Council that the Casement Park rally would be in breach of the GAA rule prohibiting clubs or other units of the organisation "participating" in "any party political movement". However, an Antrim County Board spokesperson stated that they would not be stopping the rally. Fine Gael Sports spokesperson and former Kerry footballer Jimmy Deenihan attempted to make political capital on Wednesday when he questioned the use of Casement Park. But the march and rally are under the auspices of the National Hunger Strike Commemoration Committee and the families and is open to all who wish to remember the hunger strikers. Organisers are confident of a massive turnout.

Sinn Féin TD for Cavan-Monaghan Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin paid tribute to Kieran Doherty who was elected as a TD for the same constituency in the general election of June 1981 when he received 9,121 votes. Deputy Ó Caoláin said,

"It is with both sadness and pride that I recall my predecessor Kieran Doherty who was elected during the heroic hunger strike of 1981. I was proud to have helped, along with hundreds of others, in securing his election and I am proud to have inherited Kieran's seat as a republican representative for this constituency.

"Kieran was elected despite the incredible hostility shown by the political establishment and media in this state towards his and his comrades'reasonable demands, not to mention the massive campaign of harassment of Hunger Strike activists by the Garda Special Branch. On June 11 1981 republican Ireland gave its answer with a huge vote for hunger striker candidates and other supporters of the prison struggle. It was a decisive step in the broadening of the battlefield to secure Irish freedom, a battle that is not yet won, but whose eventual success was brought closer by the courage and dedication of Kieran and his comrades in the H Blocks.

"This is a time for reflecting on the sacrifice of Kieran and his comrades, and to re-dedicate ourselves to the achievement of the goals which motivated Kieran and the other hunger strikers. That goal remains the achievement of an All Ireland Republic and the creation of a national parliament in which the representatives of all the Irish people will sit together as equals."

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