Newry Armagh Sinn Féin Sinn Féin -- Building an Ireland of Equals

"THE SPIRIT OF HUNGER STRIKERS LIVE ON" - 28TH ANNIVERSARY OF CAMLOUGH HUNGER STRIKER RAYMOND MC CREESH

Published: 17 May, 2009

Speaking at the annual commemoration of H Block Hunger striker Raymond Mc Creesh in Camlough last weekend, Sinn Féins Sean Hughes told the large gathering which included the Mc Creesh family, republican ex-prisoners and comrades of the H Block martyr, Conor Murphy MP and other Sinn Féin elected representatives, and representatives from various sporting and community groups from the locality, that Raymond Mc Creesh was a shining example of everything good about young people and the republican movement and he urged young people to take on roles of responsibility in republican politics today. The senior south Armagh Republican told those present "Whilst for himself and many of those gathered, Raymond was a friend and he was our comrade. We have our own memories of the quiet unassuming lad from Camloch, his friendly manner, his great love for the Irish language and its cultural traditions" and he continued "And for you his family - he was a son, a brother and an uncle. Only you and anyone who has endured the same loss can understand the pain and emptiness that you bear. I hope that our coming together brings to you some understanding of the high esteem in which he is held by his comrades and friends here in Camloch, throughout South Armagh and beyond". Directing his attention to the many young people present he said "Many of those at the forefront of the great national movements over the years were very young, very idealistic and, like those who have led the movement for change in more recent years, were motivated not by hatred or in the hope of personal gain but by the fact that they saw great wrongs around them and wanted to put them right. We need to recognise that this doesn't just apply to past history. Young people can and do take on roles of responsibility in republican politics today and we need more young people to join in these tasks". Recalling the dark times of 1981 Sean continued, "From 1976 to 1981 within the H Blocks and in Armagh Prison men and women, volunteers and republican activists, resisted all attempts to criminalise the struggle for Irish freedom. Britain's criminalisation policy not only failed - it was demolished. It was demolished because of the fortitude and fearlessness of freedom fighters like the H block Hunger Strikers Bobby Sands, Francis Hughes, Raymond McCreesh, Patsy O Hara, Joe McDonnell, Martin Hurson, Kevin Lynch, Tom McElwee, Kieran Docherty, and Mickey Devine and many more brave Irish men and women who paid the ultimate sacrifice in the struggle for Irish freedom. In the course of this struggle we have endured and shared many hardships and we have experienced many lows. The loss of our ten comrades on hunger strike in 1981 was such a low point. Struggle by its very nature is difficult and demands much of those who participate in it. Raymond Mc Creesh and his comrades may have lost their lives but their spirit lives on. It is here at his graveside, in Camloch and in villages throughout south Armagh, throughout Ireland and throughout the world.. Most importantly it is here in the hearts of the young people who are carrying on the struggle for which they died, in a new way befitting the new times, which republicans have brought about. Concluding Sean told the gathering
"None of us are prophets, nor can we predict the future. But what we have is the resolve and the desire to continue in struggle - to deliver for all Irish men and Irish women a republic based on equality. I have no doubt that we are the generation that will ensure that Ireland will take her place among the nations of the earth. We are the generation, which produced volunteers like Raymond McCreesh. He died on hunger strike so his comrades, would be recognised as political prisoners. He died on hunger strike so that his vision of the Republic would become a reality. Today, this remains our historic task and it is our foremost revolutionary duty. Our work will continue until that day comes". The commemoration which took place after Raymond's 28th anniversary Mass in St Malachys Church in Camlough was chaired by local Sinn Fein Councillor Turlough Murphy