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5 October 2006 Edition

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Honour the Hunger Strikers - continue the struggle

Bobby Sands, Francis Hughes, Raymond McCreesh, Patsy O'Hara, Joe McDonnell, Kieran Doherty, Kevin Lynch, Martin Hurson, Thomas McElwee and Michael Devine had paid the ultimate sacrifice for the rights of their imprisoned comrades and for the rights of the Irish nation.

The deaths of ten Hunger Strikers inspired fresh resistance to British occupation and repression in Ireland and were recognised nationally and internationally as an assertion of the political motivation of republican Prisoners of War.

British policy in Ireland, in particular its attempt to criminalise Irish republicanism, lay in tatters. The determination of the men in the H-Blocks and the women This week, 25 years ago, the Hunger Strike in the H-Blocks of Long Kesh ended following a duration of 217 days. prisoners in Armagh jail had fatally undermined British rule in Ireland and launched the republican struggle for freedom into a new era.

The Hunger Strike was a watershed in modern Irish history. Its legacy can be found in the continued popularisation of Irish republicanism and the political growth of Sinn féin Féin throughout Ireland.

The legacy of the Hunger Strikers is to be found also in the peace process and in the transformation brought about in the Irish political landscape in recent years.

This is a time for Irish republicans to reflect on the lessons of the past and to commit themselves to continuing the struggle.

The process of political change must continue. Next week sees the initiation of talks involving the political parties in the Six Counties and the Irish and British Governments.

The objective of Irish republicans remains the re-unification of our country and the establishment of social and economic justice for all the people of Ireland.

The key short-term aim is to restore the political institutions of the Good Friday Agreement. This involves Ian Paisley's DUP agreeing to share political power with republicans. But whether or not such agreement is forthcoming, and the signs so far are not good, the process of change will continue, including progress on the all-Ireland agenda.

But Sinn féin Féin is not just about the ending of partition. It is also about ending the type of political culture perpetuated for so long by the establishment parties in the 26 Counties. In recent days we have witnessed again the close ties between the political elite in the 26 Counties and vested business interests, native and foreign, which have been detrimental to the best interests of the Irish people.

The aim of Irish republicans is to replace the injustice of a divided and unequal Ireland with a new, united Ireland of Equals. This is the only monument which will be truly worthy of the Hunger Strike heroes of 1981.

An Phoblacht
44 Parnell Sq.
Dublin 1

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