Over the weekend, I was reading on Ireland in History, Day by Day of the end of the H-Block Hunger Strikes on 3rd October, 1981.
Back then a friend from school and I did have many a discussion as to matters Republican. To this day, such discussions would rarely end in agreement – be it with regard to justification, cause, validity of actions, or even use of words.
The anniversary of the end of the Hunger Strike reminded me of these plaques that I saw earlier this summer and the discussions over the intervening years, particularly those relating to the interpretation of what had been written.
The plaque in Galway says ‘Fuair siad bás ar son Saoirse na hEireann’ which roughly translates as ‘They died for the Freedom of Ireland’ – a contention that I have difficulty in accepting.
My recollection of there being five demands of the Hunger Strikers was confirmed by the internet:
The right not to wear a prisoner uniform
The right to free association with Republican political prisoners
The right as political prisoners not to do prison work
The right to organize their own educational and recreational facilities, and
The right to one weekly visit, letter and parcel
Nowhere among these five objectives is stated the ‘Freedom of Ireland’. A free and united 32-county Ireland may well have been among the reasons for partaking in Republican activities which led to their imprisonment but this was not the stated aim of the Hunger Strike.
Arguably, as both the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland remained as free after the Hunger Strike as they did before, were their deaths failures in the stated objective of Irish Freedom and if so, why state that in a plaque commemorating them.
Is this an example of an attempt to write history with a certain slant………