30 November 2000 Edition
Back issue: Massive Leinster House Hunger-Strike lobby
Dublin brought to a standstill
DUBLIN city centre came to a standstill for more than four hours last Saturday, as by far the largest turnout the city has seen on the H-Block/Armagh issue marched to Leinster House, providing a major boost for the campaign in the 26 Counties.
Contingents from every part of the country joined the procession, which, in lines of seven, took more than a hour and a half to cross over O'Connell Bridge, so that despite its circuitous route, the first marchers had reached Leinster House before those at the back had moved off. Estimates in the Dublin media put the numbers at various figures from 12,000 to 20,000, but few would doubt that these were the usual conservative understatements.
Kildare Street and Molesworth Street were thronged fom end to end in a massive `T' of people, as, with darkness falling, a group of youths climbed to the top of the main gates of Leinster House, behind the Garda barrier, and burnt the Union Jack to cheers of delight from the crowd.
The meeting outside the gates was chaired by Fr Piarais Ó Dúill, chairperson of the National H-Block Committee, and was opened by the committee's secretary, Christina Carney, who read a statement addressed to Free State premier Charles Haughey which was then handed in to Leinster House, calling for action from him on the Hunger Strike.
Neil Blaney, Euro MP and Independent Fianna Fáil TD, was next to speak: ``We can show to the embers of this institution, behind us here, that the people of this country are behind the hunger strikers and behind the Armagh women. Politicians have nothing to fear and a great deal to gain by showing themselves in favour of those brave men who are now on the brink of death.''
Former blanket man Liam Carin, from Derry, spoke of the support for the prisoners he had seen in America, from where he had just been deported to London (where he had spent a further seven days in detention).
The meeting ended with folk singer Gerry Crilly singing Francis Brolly's H-Block Song, and an accordion group from Dungannon playing the moving hymn How Great Thou Art, followed by the National Anthem.