26 October 2006 Edition
Plaque unveiled to memory of Hunger Strike TD
Over 300 people gathered in Monaghan town's Dublin Street last Sunday for the unveiling of a bronze plaque commemorating former Cavan/Monaghan TD Kieran Doherty who died on hunger strike in Long Kesh prison in 1981. The plaque, at the Sinn Féin constituency office was unveiled by Michael Doherty, brother of the late TD.
Kieran Doherty was elected in June 1981 as TD for Cavan /Monaghan and died on 2 August after 73 days on hunger strike. Over 9,000 voters made him their Number 1 choice in that General Election.
The unveiling ceremony was presided over by Monaghan town and County Councillor Seán Conlon. Gráinne Doherty, niece of Kieran, read a brief message of good wishes to all present from Alfie and Margaret Doherty, parents of the TD. His nephew of the same name, Kieran Doherty, played a lament on the flute following which Michael addressed the attendance and preceded to unveil the very impressive bronze plaque.
Cllr. Pádraigín Uí Mhurchadha made a presentation to Maireád Doherty, sister of Kieran, while Cllr. Noel Keelan, Carrickmacross town and Monaghan County Councillor read the Hunger Strike Roll of Honour.
Music before the event was provided by Cllr. Malachy Toal and Michael McGorman of the ballad group Shanachie.
Guest speakers were Cavan County Councillor Charlie Boylan who was Election Agent for Kieran Doherty in 1981 and Cavan/Monaghan T.D. and Sinn Féin Dáil Leader, Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin, who was Director of Elections for the Hunger Strike T.D.
Cllr. Boylan spoke of the response of hundreds of people to the campaign in 1981. "With hardly any advance notice and with little time to prepare people worked tirelessly day and night. Their efforts secured 9,121 first preference votes for Kieran. Thousands more gave Kieran their 2nd, 3rd and 4th preferences. This period was the building block of the success of Sinn Féin in the years since culminating in the election of Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin in 1997." Cllr. Boylan concluded by appealing to all republicans across Cavan and Monaghan to ensure that Caoimhghín is re-elected in the upcoming General Election.
"I want to begin by echoing the tribute of the prisoners to their families and supporters in 1981 by extending that same respect, sympathy and solidarity to the family of Kieran Doherty on this very special occasion. To Alfie and Margaret our special respect on this day and to all the Doherty family here with us and to those unable to join us, our solidarity always. This is an appropriate week for this event to take place. On Monday past Kieran's family will have noted the 51st anniversary of his birth. It is also very fitting that the Sinn Féin Constituency Office should be named in honour of Kieran. The beautiful bronze plaque that now graces the front of our building is the work of another Belfast man and artist, Hugh Clawson. Our thanks to Hugh for the excellence of his workmanship.
Many of you present here today were with us in that historic election campaign of 1981 and recall the long days and nights, the unending work and effort as we strove to elect Kieran and to help save his life. Thanks to the dedication and sacrifice of Kieran and his fellow Hunger Strikers and of all who have given their lives and their life's work in the cause of Irish freedom. Irish republicanism has advanced to the position of political strength we see today.
In dedicating this building to the memory of Kieran let us re-dedicate ourselves to the ideals of which he and his comrades gave their lives - an Ireland in which the people alone are sovereign, an Ireland where there is no partitionist boundary and where sectarian and class differences are consigned to the past, an Ireland in which every child will be guaranteed his or her rights and opportunities, a truly free Ireland, a 32-County Republic worthy of the name", concluded Deputy Ó Caoláin.
The proceedings closed with the playing of Amhrán na bhFiann by Kieran Doherty joined by both Malachy and Michael.