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AUDIO: Hunger strike commemoration takes place in Derrylin

Published: 3 Aug 2014 19:010 comments

THOUSANDS of republicans gathered in Derrylin today (Sunday) to remember hunger strikers, such as former Fermanagh-south Tyrone MP Bobby Sands.

Photo by John McVitty.

The event organised by Sinn Fein featured an address by Palestinian ambassador to Ireland, Ahmad Abdelrazek, who told the crowd that he was there to express his “solidarity with the families of the fallen in the hunger strikes".

Mr. Abdelrazek told republicans that without the sacrifice of hunger strikers "you would not be free and living in peace today".

In her keynote speech, Sinn Fein MP Michelle Gildernew said the hunger strike had occurred at the end of a decade in “which the British government had employed every conceivable weapon in its military and political arsenal to defeat the republican struggle”.

The Fermanagh-south Tyrone representative added: “The British aim was simple – to protect British interests, demonise Irish republicans and to defeat the struggle for Irish unity and independence.”

She said “breaking the prisoners was crucial” and claimed the British Government was “supported in this by the northern and southern political establishment.

“Shamefully there were politicians north and south more interested in maintaining the status quo than standing up for freedom,” she said.

Ms. Gildernew described the hunger strikers as “noble, selfless, decent men and women who demonstrated enormous heroism in the face of great hardship.”

She also responded to comments by First Minister Peter Robinson who told The Impartial Reporter last week that the hunger strike march was “obnoxious”.

“The mistake they make is in asserting a single narrative of the conflict,” said Ms. Gildernew.

And, speaking to impartialreporter.com following the event, Sinn Fein President Gerry Adams described the controversy surrounding it as “contrived”.

Listen to our interview with Gerry Adams here:

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