loyal determined Republican with a great love of
Saturday afternoon April 18th, 1981, I visited INLA
political prisoner Kevin Lynch in the H Blocks of
Long Kesh prison. Despite the circumstances of my
visit; there was extreme tension within and without
the prison; Bobby Sands was on his 49th day of Hunger
Strike: Kevin had a sound, strong humour on him
and was very focused.
Towards the end of our visit he stated simply and
straightforwardly that he would be next on Hunger
Strike to replace INLA volunteer Patsy OHara. He
said this without any visible signs of trepidation
or emotion. Kevin was obviously aware of the seriousness
of his words; no doubt much more than I was at that
was obviously a very strong, disciplined, determined,
and courageous young man. I could see that clearly
in his eyes and his demeanour. At the conclusion
of our visit we shook hands firmly, wished each
other good luck, and bade our farewells. Kevin smiled
and returned to his cell and his ultimate fate.
was the last time I saw Kevin Lynch alive.
the journey back to Belfast, feeling saddened and
humbled, Kevins words haunted me. Why would he need
to take Patsy OHaras place on Hunger Strike? Sure
hadnt Bobby Sands been elected MP for Fermanagh/South
Tyrone just the week before on April 10th focusing
global attention and awareness of the Hunger Strike
and bringing international pressure to bear on the
British Government and their allies in Leinster
House. Wouldnt the Hunger Strike be resolved without
any loss of life?
least thats what I thought and hoped for at the
time however naively.
Kevin was prepared, as he obviously was, to replace
Patsy OHara on Hunger Strike then at least four
Hunger Strikers, and probably more, would have died.
Thirty-six days after my visit with Kevin, Bobby
Sands, Francis Hughes, Ray McCreesh, and Patsy OHara
were dead. Their places were taken by Joe McDonnell,
Martin Hurson, and Kieran Doherty.
was exactly four weeks to the day since I had visited
Kevin in the H Blocks; On Saturday May 23rd 1981,
just two days before his 25th birthday, Kevin Lynch
began his Hunger Strike.
had been on Hunger Strike for 5 days during the
final stages of the 1980 Hunger Strike. Afterwards
he spoke these words to his mother.
they took everything else away, theyd never take
my principles. Ill die before they take them from
days after starting his Hunger Strike Kevin Lynch
died on August 1st 1981 in the H Blocks of Long
was abroad when he died but managed to get to Dungiven
in time for his funeral.
years later we commemorate the heroic sacrifice
of those Irish Republican and Republican Socialist
prisoners-of-war in their struggle for political
many of those who stood on the white line pickets
in all kinds of weather and attended rallies in
support of the Hunger Strikers in 1981 must continue
to do so again in 2006, 25 years on.
prison struggle goes on in British and Irish jails
as the British Government and New Free Staters in
Leinster House continue a policy of criminalization
against Irish Republican prisoners who refuse to
bend the knee to progress; "nor meekly serve
their time"; nor blindly accept the not-so-Good
Patsy O Hara said, Let the Fight Go On.