31 May 2001 Edition

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10,000 march in Scotland

It fell to Glasgow to host the first Hunger Strike Commemoration march to mark the 20th Anniversary this year, and with around 10,000 people attending, it has to be said they did us all proud.

With the national mobilisation to be held in Belfast postponed until 12 August because of the Foot and Mouth scare, the focus fell on the West of Scotland Hunger Strike Committee to organise the first major rally in this year's special events.

Led by schoolchildren carrying portraits of the ten hunger strikers and carrying black flags followed by a dozen flute bands from Ireland, England and Scotland, 10,000 people made their way through the city centre in what will be the largest Hunger Strike commemoration outside Ireland this year.

It was the first time republicans had marched through Glasgow city centre in 22 years and how they made up for lost time, with the march taking 45 minutes to pass any one point. The size of the demonstration highlighted the importance of the Hunger Strike to the Irish community in Scotland. Many of those participating were not born in 1981 while others were veterans who had worked in support of republican prisoners for many years.

The main speaker at the rally, former hunger striker Raymond McCartney, said the size of the crowd showed the support there was for the republican struggle in the west of Scotland. McCartney, who was joined on stage by other former republican prisoners, told those gathered that he was honoured to be one of the first republicans to march through Glasgow city centre after such a long time.

He went on to describe how Thatcher's attempt to criminalise republican prisoners was an attempt to criminalise and defeat the republican struggle. ``Twenty years later and that struggle is stronger and in a better position to deliver freedom and justice,'' he said.

The march was not however, totally without its opponents. At one stage a handful of fascists from the British National Party, shouted abuse and made Nazi salutes at the passing crowd. In another incident a loyalist hit a young person carrying a black flag with a bottle but in the end the sheer force of numbers of the marchers kept trouble makers away.

Scotland's 20th anniversary events continue next week with the East of Scotland Hunger Strike Committee's march and rally, which will take place in Edinburgh.


An Phoblacht
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