Forty years ago, seven Irish Republican political prisoners were in the midst of a 53 day Hunger Strike against British torture and a strategy to brand them as common criminals rather than political prisoners. Britain’s decision at the end of that Hunger Strike, to intensify efforts to break the H-block prisoners rather than compromise, triggered the 1981 Hunger Strike transforming Irish politics and its American dimension. Hibernians will host a special live webinar broadcast ‘Hunger Strike 1980’ on Saturday December 5th featuring key perspectives from inside the Hunger Strike, from the campaign on Irish streets, and from the crucial battle for American public opinion.
One of the 1980 Hunger Strikers Tommy McKearney, will be joined by former H-Block Blanketman now MLA Fra McCann, and political commentator Andree Murphy. America’s oldest and largest Irish organization, the Ancient Order of Hibernians and Ladies Ancient Order of Hibernians, will host the live webinar broadcast, with Hibernians across the United States joining, led by National Presidents Danny O’Connell and Karen Keane. The event will begin at 4pm in Ireland, 11am in New York, to accommodate American time differences.
Tommy McKearney will discuss, why Republican prisoners resorted to a hunger strike, the events inside as he and other prisoners neared death and how Britain’s misjudgment at the end of the 1980 Hunger Strike led directly to the 1981 Hunger Strike, the deaths of 10 of his fellow Republican prisoners, and a transformation of Irish politics.
Fra McCann will discuss his personal experiences on the protest begun by his close friend Kieran Nugent, and how he and other H-Block prisoners were sent to America in the crucial battle for American support against the massive resources of the British government.
Political commentator and journalist, Andree Murphy, will speak about Britain’s efforts against the campaign, including the assassination of leaders of the H-Block-Armagh Committee, the widespread use of plastic bullets against marchers, and news censorship.
The AOH resolved at its national convention to hold a series commemorative events, and forums, to study, and honor the legacy of the 1981 Hunger Strike Martyrs. The 1981 Hunger Strike is one of the most consequential events in Irish history with added meaning next year, in direct contrast with British celebrations of the 100th anniversary of partition and formation of the Orange State. ‘Hunger Strike 1980’ deals with a crucial chapter in understanding and honoring the legacy of the 1981 Hunger Strike.
‘Hunger Strike 1980’ follows last month’s program on ‘Plastic Justice’ which was not only joined by large numbers of AOH and LAOH members across the United States, but was also watched by viewers in Ireland and Irish American organizations like Irish Northern Aid and the Irish American Unity Conference. We invite and welcome everyone to join Hibernians as we use new technologies to bring important speakers from Ireland to you at this crucial time”.