22 May 2003 Edition

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22nd anniversary of hunger striker's death

Speaking in advance of the Raymond McCreesh Commemoration this Sunday, Newry/Armagh Sinn Féin spokesperson Conor Murphy said:

"The 22nd anniversary of the death of Raymond McCreesh on Hungerstrike in Long Kesh will be commemorated in Camloch on Sunday the 25 May. Raymond's anniversary Mass is at 11am. on Sunday morning. People are also asked to assemble at the monument in the village at 2.30pm to attend a graveside ceremony in Carrickcruppen graveyard.

"The immortal words "My Brother is not a criminal", spoken by Fr Brian McCreesh in Toome, will forever conjure up the emotions of sorrow, anger, frustration, pride and resolve identified with the era of the Hunger Strikes of 1981 and in particular the life and death of Camloch Hunger Striker Raymond Mc Creesh. At 2.11am on Thursday 21 May 1981, Raymond McCreesh became the third political prisoner to die on hunger strike. His life ended after 60 days without food, during which he had suffered indescribably without food from the effects of his fast. He had lost his sight and hearing and throughout the last day of his life he was unable to move. He died on that Thursday morning in May as he had lived since his capture in 1976, resisting attempts to break him as a political prisoner."

Bobby Sands, Francis Hughes, Patsy O'Hara, Joe McDonnell, Martin Hurson, Kevin Lynch, Kieran Doherty, Tom Mc Elwee and Mickey Devine also paid the supreme sacrifice for their beliefs in 1981, becoming known throughout the world as the "Hunger Strike Martyrs". Paddy Agnew, who was imprisoned in the H-Blocks of Long Kesh and as a H-Block candidate won a seat in the general election of 1981 in Dundalk, wrote: "For me, 1981 was the watershed, the turning point in history, the year that changed everything. When I look back on that period I have mixed emotions, sadness yes; but also great pride. I'm proud to have been part of that phenomenal phase of the struggle. Today, another phase, the struggle goes on. So as for the time I spent in the H-Blocks of Long Kesh, as a comrade used to shout through his cell door; 'I've been in better places, but not with better people'."

An Phoblacht
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Dublin 1
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