Patsy O'Hara Commemoration speech


**Posted to the group by Danielle Ni Dhighe

Speech at Patsy O'Hara Commemoration

22 May 2005

Delivered by John Nixon, a young Irish Republican Socialist Party member from Derry

Friends and Comrades,

It is a privilege and an honour to be asked to speak here today on behalf of the Irish Republican Socialist Movement at this, the 24th anniversary commemoration of the death of INLA Volunteer and hunger strike martyr Patsy O'Hara.

I wasn't even born 24 years ago when Patsy and his nine comrades embarked upon a fast to the death in their unified and dignified protest against the failed British attempt to criminalise the republican struggle. Their strength was their youth, their determination, their unity and of course the fact that they were fighting for what was right. That is why they prevailed in the end but as we know that struggle cost us dearly. Our ten comrades died within Long Kesh and during the same period others fell in action on the outside, equally courageous and equally determined to rid our nation of the imperialist aggressor. 1981 is a year that republicans in Ireland will never forget because we lost the best people that the struggle had produced. When I ask comrades of Patsy to describe him I hear stories of courage and of generosity. I hear of a soldier of the working class who never shirked his responsibilities to his community. I hear of a political activist who served on the national leadership of the IRSP whilst on the run. A true hero of Ireland's working class.

At just twenty three years old Patsy had his full life in front of him. He, in his short life, had seen so much that moulded him into the person that he became. He had experienced the oppression and when just a teenager had taken part in the uprising along with the people of this city against the unjust British occupation of Ireland.

The young people of Derry and even of Ireland have a lot to learn from the example of Patsy O'Hara. In today's society of greed where joyriding, drug abuse and anti-community behaviour is becoming rampant people should look towards the likes of Patsy for inspiration.

This is a society in which working class areas are being flooded with dangerous drugs such as ecstasy, cocaine and heroin. Joyriding and burglaries are increasing and the PSNI sit back and allow these people
to operate openly with sanction, not that we ever expected anything different from them. Is it any wonder, with the backing of the PSNI, that some of our young people are turning their backs on their communities? We see by the current situation around the Creggan estate what damage these drugs and their dealers can do to the cohesion of communities. Only by embracing the revolutionary ideals of Patsy O'Hara can working class youth realise their collective potential. We say to the young people of this city: "Follow Patsy's example and fight for your people. Join the Irish Republican Socialist Movement and play a positive role within your communities. Be part of the Irish Revolution!"

Patsy O'Hara by his ideas and his actions is the ultimate role model for the youth of Ireland today. Patsy was not deflected from the revolutionary path by the hollow heroes of the day. When I read about Patsy O'Hara I am reading about a person who was a militant, he was politicised and he was dedicated to the struggle to remove the British occupation forces from Ireland. He was a revolutionary who did not tire of standing up for what is right. Patsy was the Irish equivalent to Che Guevara. A young man who spent his life fighting for freedom and justice.

I could not speak today by not bringing to your attention a struggle of immense importance that is currently taking place at the Eastern borders of Europe. Just last week in Turkey a twelfth wave of death fasters has taken the place of those who have died before them in their struggle against the same type of vindictive and oppressive regime that our comrades in 1981 had to face down. We send our solidarity to our brothers and sisters in Turkey who are embroiled in the most serious of situations and who are facing that situation heroically. We admire their resolve to defeat the fascist regime in Turkey as any victory for the working class abroad is a victory for us here in Ireland also. The campaign in Turkey's prisons and working class areas has been going on since October 2000. Their slogan "Victory or Death" sums up their resolve and determination in defeating Turkey's vindictive regime and, comrades, I urge all of you to help bring this massacre to an end by getting involved in renewed campaigns in support of the Turkish prisoners.

So far 118 prisoners and their relatives on the outside have died during their continued protest. Four years ago, just before she died, one of those martyrs, Arzu Guler, sent the following message to the people of Derry: "Our Death Fast attack against the F-types is not only for the Turkish people, it is for all the world. We cannot separate our struggle from the world's. We know about the struggles of Patsy O'Hara and Michael Devine and we support their cause. We greet you from the depths of our hearts."

Go raibh maith agat.

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