Tuesday, July 04, 2006 :
Sligo hunger striker's death to be remembered
An exhibition on the Long Kesh hunger strike is part of a series of events taking place to mark the 25th anniversary of the death of Sligo/Leitrim general election candidate Joe McDonnell.
The election candidate was a Long Kesh hunger striker and an estate in Cranmore is named after him, namely Joe McDonnell Drive.
As part of the event, the Sligo City Hotel will host a major exhibition on the hunger strike period starting on Wednesday July 5 between 4pm and 8pm.
It will be followed by a discussion on the course of the 1981 hunger strike facilitated by a number of former H-Block blanket men.
Sligo/Leitrim was one of nine constituencies chosen by the National H-Block/Armagh Committee to be contested by Republican prisoners in the hope of maximizing support for their five demands.
In the election itself Joe McDonnell was narrowly defeated having secured 5,634 first preference votes, which was very significant and indicated again the widespread support that the hunger strike had aroused.
The election of two of the prisoners in other border constituencies transformed the General Election leading to the defeat of the then Fianna Fail governmentled by Charles Haughey.
The Sligo H-Block Memorial Committee is extending an open invitation to the general public to attend these events.
Joe McDonnell's death was particularly poignant as he had been a former victim of internment who had seen his family burnt out of their home.
Joe McDonnell was the oldest hunger striker and the only one married with children and given the gap between the deaths of the first four prisoners and his there had been great optimism that his life could be saved.
People who were active in the local support groups during this period are particularly welcome as indeed are young people wising to find out more about this period of Irish history.
Finally to mark Joe McDonnell's anniversary there will be a vigil held on O'Connell Street on Saturday July 8 at 2pm. Members of the public are invited.
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