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23 August 2001 Edition

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Mickey Devine remembered

On Monday night, 20 August, the 20th anniversary of the death of hunger striker Mickey Devine, hundreds of republicans gathered at the home of his sister, Margaret, in the Creggan Estate in Derry to take part in a commemoration and unveiling of a new mural in memory of Mickey. It was from this home that Mickey Devine was waked and buried. His sister Margaret and his son Michael junior unveiled the mural.

Among those in the large attendance were members of the Devine and Lynch families aas well as Martin McGuinness, Mitchel McLaughlin, Jim Gibney, Danny Morrison, Tom Hartley and Seanna Walsh, who had travelled from Belfast together with members of the Clonard Street Committee.

Bernie Boyle, who was in Armagh prison in 1981, chaired the event and gave a special welcome to the many former prisoners and activists who were present at the event. Kevin Campbell, a former blanket man, read a short account of Michael's life, tracing his political involvement from his early teens and recalling how he was a founder member of the IRSP and INLA in Derry.

The main speaker was Mary Nelis, who gave a moving and emotional oration, speaking of Michael's extraordinary courage and also the strength of the family and the families of all the hunger strikers and the protesting prisoners in Armagh and the H Blocks.

She reminded the crowd that Mickey Devine was born and raised in Springtown camp, a collection of Nissen huts used to house those that the unionists rated second class citizens. It was here that he experienced injustice at first hand and realised that injustice had to be dismantled. Mickey Devine embarked on the road to end injustice and that journey took him to Long Kesh and eventually to his death.

Nelis urged people to continue that struggle to ensure that Mickey's children and our children could have justice and equality. This, she said, would come in the establishment of a 32 County Democratic Socialist Republic.

As part of the ongoing commemoration of Michael Devine and his nine comrades, the Derry 1981 Committee will be displaying the local Derry Hunger Strike Exhibition in the Corn Beef Centre, Central Drive, Creggan, beginning at 7.30pm on Thursday 23 August, made up of photos and a people's video diary relating to the experiences of 1981 in Derry. The exhibition will run until Monday 27 August.

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