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3 August 2015 Edition

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The National Hunger Strike Commemoration

Editorial – Eagarfhocal

Today, the struggle of those men and women continues to inspire Irish republicans, as it does Palestinian prisoners and countless thousands across the globe.

THE HUNGER STRIKE is the pinnacle of resistance demonstrated by Irish republican prisoners down the decades of Irish history. 

It epitomises in the wider public imagination that spirit of resistance shown by all Irish political prisoners – women as well as men – who continued their struggle behind prison bars and barbed wire. From Wolfe Tone and O'Donovan Rossa to the men and women of Easter 1916, through the Tan War and Civil War, and throughout the most recent phase of the conflict from 1969, including the Blanket Protests and Hunger Strikes in Armagh Women's Prison and the H-Blocks of Long Kesh, the indomitable courage of prisoners 'in the belly of the beast' shone through in the face of unremitting physical and psychological brutality.

The importance to the British state of winning the prison struggle can be seen down the centuries, from those prison governors who persecuted O'Donovan Rossa through to British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher, who ruthlessly prosecuted a prison regime that led to the deaths on hunger strike of Member of Parliament Bobby Sands and nine of his comrades.

Today, the struggle of those men and women continues to inspire Irish republicans, as it does Palestinian prisoners and countless thousands across the globe.

We pay tribute to the Hunger Strikers, the Blanket Men, the women in Armagh and Limerick, the prisoners in Mountjoy and Portlaoise, in England and all over the world who fought not only for political status but for a new society based on social and economic justice in a free Ireland.

Sinn Féin continues that fight.

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TheRhythm of Time

By Bobby Sands

There’s an inner thing in every man,

Do you know this thing my friend?

It has withstood the blows of a million years,

And will do so to the end.

– – – 

It was born when time did not exist,

And it grew up out of life,

It cut down evil’s strangling vines,

Like a slashing searing knife.

– – – 

It lit fires when fires were not,

And burnt the mind of man,

Tempering leadened hearts to steel,

From the time that time began.

– – – 

It wept by the waters of Babylon,

And when all men were a loss,

It screeched in writhing agony,

And it hung bleeding from the Cross.

– – – 

It died in Rome by lion and sword,

And in defiant cruel array,

When the deathly word was ‘Spartacus’

Along the Appian Way.

– – – 

It marched with Wat the Tyler’s poor,

And frightened lord and king,

And it was emblazoned in their deathly stare,

As e’er a living thing.

– – – 

It smiled in holy innocence,

Before conquistadors of old,

So meek and tame and unaware,

Of the deathly power of gold.

It burst forth through pitiful Paris streets,

And stormed the old Bastille,

And marched upon the serpent’s head,

And crushed it ‘neath its heel.

– – – 

It died in blood on Buffalo Plains,

And starved by moons of rain,

Its heart was buried in Wounded Knee,

But it will come to rise again.

– – – 

It screamed aloud by Kerry lakes,

As it was knelt upon the ground,

And it died in great defiance,

As they coldly shot it down.

– – – 

It is found in every light of hope,

It knows no bounds nor space,

It has risen in red and black and white,

It is there in every race.

– – – 

It lies in the hearts of heroes dead,

It screams in tyrants’ eyes,

It has reached the peak of mountains high,

It comes searing ‘cross the skies.

– – – 

It lights the dark of this prison cell,

It thunders forth its might,

It is ‘the undauntable thought’, my friend,

That thought that says ‘I’m right!’

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