Call to remember those killed outside prison walls during hunger strikes

Maze Prison
Maze Prison (PA Archive)
16:42pm, Wed 05 May 2021
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A prominent victims campaigner has called for the remembrance of those who were killed during the period of the 1981 hunger strikes in Northern Ireland.

The death of IRA prisoner Bobby Sands 40 years ago this week, followed by nine other republicans during a hunger strike at the Maze Prison in Co Antrim, sparked significant civil unrest across Northern Ireland.

Kenny Donaldson of the victims’ group SEFF said 57 people were killed outside the walls of the prison over the period from the first day of the 1981 hunger strike on March 1 to when it ended on October 3.

Bobby Sands (PA Archive)

Hours after Mr Sands’ death, a father and son were fatally wounded after being attacked by a crowd in north Belfast.

Eric Guiney, 45, and his son Desmond, 14, had been travelling in Mr Guiney’s milk lorry during riots on the New Lodge Road when they came under attack by a crowd throwing stones at their vehicle, causing it to crash.

Both later died from their injuries.

“There has been no focus upon the family down the years, who had the heart ripped out of them,” Mr Donaldson said.

“No-one has been brought to justice and the terrorism idolatry which surrounds the hunger strikers is very difficult for the family to have to deal with.

We will remember, we will honour all innocents murdered over this period, as we will those murdered/killed before the hunger strike and also those following the ending of the hunger strike

“Forty years later, who speaks of the Guineys, or the circa 55 others who were murdered/killed outside the prison walls over the period of the hunger strike? Who honours their memory outside of the immediate families?

“We will remember, we will honour all innocents murdered over this period, as we will those murdered/killed before the hunger strike and also those following the ending of the hunger strike.”

SEFF has compiled a short film in remembrance of those killed during the period of the 1981 hunger strike on their Facebook page.

Sinn Fein’s former director of publicity, Danny Morrison, speaking to BBC Radio Ulster on Wednesday, said the hunger strikes led to the “primacy of politics”, particularly following the election of Mr Sands in the Fermanagh South Tyrone Westminster by-election.

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