INLA Hunger Striker Kevin Lynch Commemoration Dungiven 31 July 2016

The INLA Hunger Striker Kevin Lynch Commemoration 2016

All available members, supporters, and families to assemble at 1.30pm, Main Street, Dungiven – Sunday 31 July 2016.  March leaves at 2pm.  Prominent speaker.

Please contact IRSP HQ at Costello House, 392b Falls Road, Belfast for those seeking transport or further details.  Telephone: 02890321024 or contact your local IRSP office or IRSP representative

Kevin Lynch INLA Hunger Strike Martyr

kevin-lynch

The year 2016 is the 35th anniversary of the H-Block Hunger Strikes in Long Kesh concentration camp, when 10 brave INLA and IRA prisoners gave their lives for the right to be treated as the political prisoners they most surely were. Irish National Liberation Army Volunteer Kevin Lynch was one of three Republican Socialist prisoners, along with Volunteers Patsy O’Hara and Mickey Devine, who selflessly gave their lives in the tragic Hunger Strikes of 1981. The H-Block protests saw a mass mobilisation in Ireland and overseas in support of the Hunger Strikers. The H-Block Hunger Strikers’ Five demands were:

  1. The right not to wear a prison uniform;
  2. The right not to do prison work;
  3. The right of free association with other prisoners, and to organise educational and recreational pursuits;
  4. The right to one visit, one letter and one parcel per week;
  5. Full restoration of remission lost through the protest

Background

Kevin Lynch was born on the 25th of May, 1956 and came from the Dungiven area of North Derry. Prior to his involvement in the Irish National Liberation Army, Kevin Lynch was a keen sportsman excelling in boxing, Gaelic football and hurling. In December 1977, after spending a year on remand in Belfast’s Crumlin Road prison, he was sentenced to 10 years imprisonment in the H-Blocks of Long Kesh by a Diplock non-jury court, convicted of armed INLA operations in the North Derry area. On arrival at the H-Blocks Kevin Lynch joined the ‘blanket protest’ for a period of three and a half years until he took his place of the Hunger Strike. Kevin was known for his courage and fortitude during the blanket protest, once enduring weeks of agony with a dental abscess rather than don the prison garb to seek medical treatment.

Hunger Strike 1981

Kevin Lynch joined the Hunger Strike on the 23rd of May, 1981 and took the place of his INLA comrade Patsy O’Hara who had given his life 2 days previously. Kevin was a H-Block/Armagh prisoner candidate for County Waterford in the Leinster House elections and although he was not elected like his fellow prisoner candidates, Paddy Agnew and Kieran Doherty, he received 3337 first preference votes! Kevin Lynch’s courage throughout his time on Hunger Strike is well documented and we, who were either very young or not even born in those desperate times can only imagine the pain and suffering endured by Kevin, his brave comrades and indeed his family. Kevin sadly passed away at 12.50 am on the 1st of August 1981 with his two brothers at his prison hospital bedside after 71 days on Hunger Strike. He was only 25 years old..

According to his last wishes, Volunteer Kevin Lynch was buried in Dungiven on the 3rd of August 1981. Kevin died as he lived, a proud Republican Socialist and a volunteer in the Irish National Liberation Army. His last fight was against the criminalisation of Irish political prisoners, by the forces of British imperialism in the H-Blocks of Long Kesh concentration camp. Kevin Lynch was given a full military funeral by his comrades in the Irish Republican Socialist Movement with 6 armed INLA volunteers in uniform firing a final volley of shots over his coffin as it made it’s journey to Dungiven cemetery. Thirty five years onwards, INLA volunteer Kevin Lynch is forever remembered by his old comrades in the Irish Republican Socialist Movement, his family, his community and indeed by the Irish working class. Kevin Lynch’s name is immortalised in his native Dungiven with sporting tournaments, teams and indeed a Republican band named in his honour. On the anniversary of his death each year Kevin Lynch is remembered by his own community and the wider Republican community with a parade in his honour. A large monument in Dungiven bears his name and bears testimony to his courage.

In the year 2016, the 35th anniversary of Volunteer Kevin Lynch’s death on hunger strike, young and old alike will be commemorating his bravery and utter selflessness. Like his fellow H-Block Hunger Strikers Kevin Lynch was amongst ‘the bravest of the brave!’

Saoirse Go Deo!

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Alex McGuigan

 

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