Aitheasc an Uachtaráin Ruairí Ó Brádaigh don 85ú Ard-Fheis de Shinn Féin in Óstlann an Spa , Leamhcán , Co. Atha Cliath , 21ú agus 22ú Deireadh Fómhair , 1989 /
Presidential Address of Ruairí Ó Brádaigh to the 85th Ard-Fheis of Sinn Féin in the Spa Hotel , Lucan , County Dublin , 21st and 22nd October 1989…..
“The other more recently departed group has added insult to injury by getting into the ‘Empty Formula’ business before changing its name. At least de Valera and company had the decency to change their party name to ‘Fianna Fáil’ before soiling the honour of their Sinn Féin background by subscribing to the Oath to the British King then required for entry into Leinster House.
The people of the 26 Counties will have , in the next local elections, their first opportunity to express an opinion on these matters. It is up to us to make sure that everybody is fully aware of what is involved , in spite of the mis-representation . It is a challenge to which all real Irish Republicans must respond.
It will require hard work and dedication and , I regret to say, an intense education programme on the part of loyal Cumann members as well as elected Councillors and Head Office , directed towards a younger generation. Many are confused and ill-informed . Lies , propaganda , dishonest history-writing or even the withdrawal of significant historical facts from some school courses have all ensured an air of unreality and uncertainty about our case and our Cause – about the Cause of Irish Republicanism…….”
We contacted Seán O’ Callaghan and put a number of the questions raised by Mrs Corcoran in her interview with us about the murder* of her husband in 1985. Initially , O’ Callaghan said the whole issue was a “…..hideously complicated business…” and that the only thing he was prepared to say was that everything would be clarified when his book was published in May of next year (1998) . ” It will be the definitive account,” he said.
He would neither confirm nor deny the previous accounts he gave to newspapers on how he murdered* John Corcoran : ” It’s a much more complicated story than I may have given the impression. Sometimes, in these situations , there were reasons why I chose to say things , “ he said , saying, again , that the book would explain everything and that people would be in for “….a shock..” . When asked whether this meant he was saying he did not kill John Corcoran , he refused to confirm or deny the suggestion.
However , Sean O’ Callaghan said there was hardly a day that passed when he did not think of Mrs. Corcoran and her family . ” I’m desperately sorry for what happened to John Corcoran, ” he said. When asked whether he would apologise to Mrs Corcoran for murdering* her husband , he replied – ” I can’t say that , it’s very, very complicated…….”
Thomas Ashe, Kerry, 5 days, 25 September 1917 (force fed by tube , died as a result).
Terence MacSwiney, Cork, 74 days, 25 October 1920.
Michael Fitzgerald, Cork, 67 days, 17 October 1920.
Joseph Murphy, Cork, 76 days , 25 October 1920 .
Joe Witty, Wexford , 2 September 1923.
Dennis Barry, Cork, 34 days, 20 November 1923.
Andy O Sullivan , Cork, 40 days, 22 November 1923.
Tony Darcy, Galway, 52 days, 16 April 1940.
Jack ‘Sean’ McNeela, Mayo, 55 days, 19 April 1940.
Sean McCaughey, Tyrone ,22 days, 11 May 1946 (hunger and thirst Strike).
Michael Gaughan, Mayo , 64 days, 3 June 1974.
Frank Stagg, Mayo , 62 days, 12 February 1976.
Bobby Sands, Belfast , 66 days, 5 May 1981.
Frank Hughes , Bellaghy (Derry) , 59 days, 12 May 1981.
Raymond McCreesh , South Armagh , 61 days, 21 May 1981.
Patsy O Hara , Derry , 61 days, 21 May 1981.
Joe McDonnell , Belfast , 61 days, 8 July 1981.
Martin Hurson , Tyrone , 46 days, 13 July 1981.
Kevin Lynch, Dungiven (Derry) ,71 days, 1 August 1981.
Kieran Doherty , Belfast , 73 days, 2 August 1981.
Tom McIlwee , Bellaghy (Derry) , 62 days, 8 August 1981.
Micky Devine , Derry , 60 days, 20 August 1981.
The hunger strike is part of a very ancient Irish tradition, although it seems that James Connolly was the first to use it in 1913 as tool of political protest in 20th century Ireland.
From 20 September 1917, Irish internees used the hunger strike as a means of trying to secure their rights from an implacable enemy. Thomas Ashe, former principal of Corduff National School,was the first to die after an attempted force-feeding.
Fasting as a means of asserting one’s rights when faced with no other means of obtaining redress is something that has been embedded in Irish culture from ancient times. Even when the ancient Irish law system, the Laws of the Fénechus, which we popularly called the Brehon Laws from the word breitheamh, a judge, were first codified in AD 438, the law relating to the troscad, or hunger strike, was ancient.
The hunger striker gave notice of their intent and, according to the law tract Di Chetharslicht Athgabhála, if the person who is being fasted against does not come to arbitration, and actually allows the protester to die, then the moral judgement went against them and they endured shame and contempt until they made recompense to the family of the dead person. If they failed to make such amends, they were not only damned by society but damned in the next world. They were held to be without honour and without morality.
The ancient Irish texts are full of examples of people fasting to assert their rights and shame powerful enemies into accepting their moral obligations. St Patrick is recorded to have done so according to the Tripartite Life of St Patrick. And, in the Life of St Ailbe, we found St Lugid and St Salchin, carrying out ritual fasts to protest.
Even King Conall Dearg of Connacht fasted when he found his rights infringed. And the entire population of Leinster fasted against St Colmcille when he rode roughshod over their rights. The poet Mairgen mac Amalgado mac Mael Ruain of the Deisi fasted against another poet Finguine over an act of perceived injustice.
The troscad continued in Irish law throughout the centuries until the English conquests proscribed the native law system and foisted English law on Ireland through a series of Acts between 1587 and 1613.
Nevertheless, individual fasts against the cruelties of the English colonial administration are recorded several times over the subsequent years….
On Saturday 10th July 2010 , in Dublin , a Rally will be held to commemorate the 22 Irish Hunger-Strikers : those attending are asked to assemble at the Garden of Remembrance at One pm , from where the Parade will leave , to make its way to the isle facing the GPO in O’Connell street.