15 May 2003 Edition

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Francis Hughes remembered: Don't mourn, organise, says McGuinness

A large crowd turned out on Saturday night 10 May at St Mary's graveyard in Bellaghy, County Derry to mark the 22nd anniversary of the death on hunger strike of Francis Hughes.

Despite the by now traditional heavy rain shower, up to 200 people attended the ceremony at the grave, where both Francis Hughes and his cousin Tom McElwee, who also died in the 1981 Hunger Strike, are buried.

After a local singer sang the ballad, The Boy from Tamlaghtduff, a song penned by Christy Moore about Francis Hughes, Martin McGuinness gave the main oration.

The Mid-Ulster MP, who represents the area, told the gathering that the last 22 years had taught republicans the value of organising and that republicanism was stronger now than it ever was.

McGuinness criticised the British government, and in particular Tony Blair, over the decision to ban the Assembly elections that were to be held initially on May 1 before being rescheduled for May 29 until they postponed the election indefinitely.

The Sinn Féin man said the British were afraid of the electoral growth of Sinn Féin, a growth that had seen the party make inroads throughout Ireland since Bobby Sands intervention in the Fermanagh South Tyrone by-election in 1981.

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