Mixed views ahead of Hunger Strike event

Derrylin March

MEMORIAL…Local councillor Barry Doherty at the republican memorial in Derrylin

THE decision to hold a national Hunger Strike commemoration in Derrylin next week has been met with the expected mix of opinion across the county.

The local Sinn Fein councillor, Barry Doherty, speaking at the site of the memorials to Louis Leonard and Jim Murphy in Derrylin, said that it is a ‘special event for nationalist and republicans in Fermanagh’ and added ‘we have tried to be as sensitive as we possibly can to victims’.


However, UUP MLA Tom Elliott described the event as ‘insensitive’, posing the question: “Why do Sinn Fein want to retraumatise the families of those who were murdered by the IRA?”

The march, set for Sunday August 3, could bring up to 10, 000 people to the Derrylin area according to organisers. It is the culmination of four days worth of events to commemorate the hunger strike.

Councillor Doherty explained: “This will be the 33rd time the event is being held, it’s the first time in Fermanagh. The event itself, I think, will hold special resonance for people in Fermanagh because of the link with Bobby Sands and Owen Carron, I think it’s a special event for nationalists and republicans in Fermanagh.”

Speaking of what he described as expected opposition, Cllr Doherty said: “In any society that has divisions like there own, there will always be people opposed – some of them for real, honest reasons, particularly people who have lost people, and others for political reasons.

“We have tried to be as sensitive as we possibly can to victims, that’s why we’d have it in a village like Derrylin and perhaps not Enniskillen.

“But there will always be some people who will be upset about these things. It’s not our intention to rub their noses in anything. It’s not our intention to bring up wounds with them but at the same time, we have a right to commemorate these people, there will be families here on the day who will have lost loved ones and we’re sensitive of all these things.”

On political reaction, he said: “We expected it, the usual people like Tom Elliott, rent a quote, whenever there’s a republican event on. I think Tom was part of the delegation that walked out of talks and threatened to bring the country to a standstill, perhaps he would be a little better served trying to solve these contentious issues than rambling on about a nationalist march in a nationalist village.”


For his own part, MLA Tom Elliott was unflinching in his opposition towards the march.

“Again we witness the insensitivities of Sinn Fein and the republican movement – holding a Hunger Strike commemoration on August 3 in Derrylin, where the IRA terrorists murdered several innocent people.

“These included a farmer and his wife while they were watching TV, a school bus driver when he was collecting primary school children from the school and a primary school teacher when at his place of work in front of the young children.”

“This is another move by republicans to try to justify their murderous campaign as being acceptable – it never was acceptable and never will be acceptable to all right thinking people. They were criminals and terrorists and will always remain so,” he added.

A parades commission spokesman confirmed that they have been notified of the march, and added that no notice of a parade-related protest had been given to date.

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