Mickey Devine

1981 Irish Hungerstrikers

Died August 20th, 1981

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A typical Derry lad

TWENTY-seven-year-old Micky Devine, from the Creggan in Derry city, was the third INLA Volunteer to join the H-Block hunger strike to the death.

Micky Devine took over as O/C of the INLA blanket men in March when the then O/C, Patsy O'Hara, joined the hunger strike but he retained this leadership post when he joined the hunger strike himself.

Known as 'Red Micky', his nickname stemmed from his ginger hair rather than his political complexion, although he was most definitely a republican socialist.

The story of Micky Devine is not one of a republican 'super-hero' but of a typical Derry lad whose family suffered all of the ills of sectarian and class discrimination inflicted upon the Catholic working-class of that city: poor housing, unemployment and lack of opportunity.

>>Read it

Michael Devine

Fallen Comrades of the IRSM

**Posted to group by Danielle Ni Dhighe. Click on above link for more photos

Fallen Comrades of the IRSM - Michael Devine
Died on Hunger Strike on 20 August 1981

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Michael James Devine was born on 26th May 1954 in Springtown, just outside of Derry city. He grew up in the Creggan area of Derry, where he was raised by his sister Margaret and her husband after both parents died unexpectedly when he was age 11.

Mickey was witness to the civil rights marches of the late 1960s in Derry in which civilians were often brutally attacked and the trauma of Bloody Sunday. In fact, Mickey himself was hospitalised twice because of police brutality. In the early 70s, Mickey joined the Labour Party and the Young Socialists. Then in 1975, Mickey helped form the INLA.

In 1976 he was arrested, and sentenced in 1977 to 12 years after an arms raid in County Donegal; he immediately joined the blanket protest. While on hunger strike an appeal to Irish workers he drafted was smuggled out of Long Kesh and it was this letter to Irish workers that was read at factory gates throughout Ireland.

Mickey was 60 days on hunger strike; he was the third INLA Volunteer to join the hunger strike and died at 7:50am on 20th August 1981.

He died as he lived: a Republican Socialist. Remember him with honour and pride.


It's hard to know what way to behave when a friend and a comrade is slowly dying on Hunger Strike just a few cells away, everyone of course tries to put on a brave face and act normal but both he and we know that it is only make believe. We've organized story telling and singsongs to keep up his morale, ours too, but it's hard, very hard. It won't be long now until he's taken away to join the other Hunger Strikers in the prison hospital and then?

Well it seems that only slow terrible death awaits them all. We try to shout words of encouragement but what can you say to a dying man. The screws for their part keep him as isolated from us as possible and go out of there way to taunt and belittle him, yet in their midst he, like his comrades is a giant. If they even had one ounce of their courage if even they had a spark of decency, decency from these who have tormented us all these years? Compassion from these who have made all this suffering necessary?

No, not even a friendly word, not even a word of sympathy during the long days and nights of agony but then neither he nor we expect it. We know only too well that these people have been put here to torment and persecute us and they have done their job well but not well enough. They have served their British masters, the poor pathetic fools, they think that inhumanity and cruelty can break us, haven't they learnt anything? It strengthens us, it drives us on for then more than ever we know that our cause is just.

Bobby Sands, Frank Hughes, Patsy O'Hara and Raymond McCreesh hunger for justice, they have suffered all the indignities that a tyrant can inflict yet still they fight back with their dying breath. Only a few yards from here, four human skeletons lay wasting away and still the fools the poor pathetic fools cannot break them. Even death will not extinguish the flames of resistance and this flame will without doubt engulf these who in their callousness and in greed have made all this necessary. Britain you will pay!

Michael Devine
Long Kesh, 1981



**Click on above link for large view of mural

Portrait of Mickey Devine, the final hunger striker to die, and a quotation:

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"I refuse to change to suit the people who oppress, torture or imprison me, who wish to dehumanise me…I have the spirit of freedom which cannot be quenched by the most horrendous treatment. Of course, I can be murdered, but I remain what I am - a political prisoner of war"


Random Ramblings from a Republican

INLA Volunteer Micky Devine

Michael Devine was born May 26th, 1954 on the former American army base, Springfield Camp, outside of Derry City. Unlike his comrades on hungerstrike, Micky did not come from a typically extended family. His father died when he was only 11 years old and his mother when he was a teenager. He grew up fast and fiercely nationalist.

>>Read it


Hunger striker recalled

Daily Ireland

By Connla Young
Published 8/08/2005

(Photo from Wikipedia)

Republicans from across Co Derry gathered yesterday to mark the 24th anniversary of the death of hunger striker Thomas McElwee.
The 23-year-old died after 62 days without food on August 8, 1981.
West Tyrone assembly member Barry McElduff spoke at the grave in Bellaghy, Co Derry, that Thomas McElwee shares with his first cousin and fellow hunger striker Francis Hughes.
Mr McElduff referred to the ultimate sacrifice made by the two men and their eight comrades.
The Sinn Féin man described the graveyard where the two men lay as a “hallowed place” and spoke of the significance of the hunger strike to Irish people across the world.
“I believe that that the strength of republicans and the popular support they enjoy is largely the result of two waves of support — the hunger strike and the peace process. Both were responsible for injecting momentum into the republican movement,” he said.
Mr Elduff said he understood that recent weeks had been an emotional time for republicans.
“I understand that people may feel disoriented and possibly feel a sense of loss at the IRA statement of July 28.
“I urge republicans to continue to develop a questioning culture but one that is rooted in activism,” he said.
He said the only legitimate army in Ireland has been the IRA. He also welcomed the British government’s decision to disband the Royal Irish Regiment in the wake of the IRA statement.
The Sinn Féin man said he looked forward to a day when elected representatives in the North could take their seats in Leinster House.
“That would be of huge symbolic importance.
“It would effectively make MPs TDs as well.
“It would be important because it will mean the people of the North will be represented in Leinster House.
“Sinn Féin’s goal is achieve a united Ireland and an Ireland of equals, and the challenge is to deliver that as soon as possible,” he said.
Among those in attendance at the commemoration were members of the McElwee and Hughes families as well as Mid-Ulster MP Martin McGuinness.


The Deaths of Kieran Doherty and Thomas McElwee on Hunger Strike

Goretti at Kieran Doherty's funeral

The 2nd of August marked the 24th anniversary of the death of hungerstriker Kieran Doherty after 73 days without food. I apologise for not posting this in a timely manner. I mean no disrespect to any particular hunger striker or any other important republican anniversary by my lapses. This particular season is a very difficult one to get through because there is a constant reminder of some painful memory to re-live, and for people who take the priciples and the events of the hunger strike seriously, the trauma of the deaths repeats itself over and over, year after year and never goes away.

Thomas McElwee

Tomorrow, August 8, also marks the anniversary of the death of Thomas McElwee after 62 days on hunger strike.

Irish Northern Aid

Thomas McElwee

"When you see the official photograph of Thomas McElwee on hunger republican through and through. Alfie managed the local Republican Club that helped raise funds for the prisoners’ families after the previous manager was shot dead. Kieran's granduncle, Ned Maguire, had taken part in a famous escape from the Crumlin Road jail in 1943. Two of Kieran's second cousins, Maura and Dorothy Maguire, were shot dead by the British army in 1971. His second cousin Ned was interned and was now on the blanket. In 1972, his uncle Gerry took part in another famous escape from the Crum, when republican prisoners pretending to be playing football leaped over the fences en masse to freedom.

At fifteen, Kieran left formal schooling to work with his father as a floor tiler. His brothers Michael and Terence were at that time interned without trial and the Doherty family were constantly harassed and raided.

Kieran joined Na Fianna Eireann in 1971 at the age of fifteen. He was arrested almost immediately, but his father Alfie raised hell about his son's age and Kieran was released -- only to arrested and taken away again when he turned sixteen and interned without trial.

In November 1975, Kieran was one of the last internees to be released. He immediately went on active service with the IRA in the Andytown area with Joe McDonnell, John Pickering and others. He was mostly on the run as their unit was very active and effective.

They say Kieran was a very internal person, but big, very strong and decisive. Once he gave a man a public beating for hitting a woman. He was quiet and shy, but nobody crossed Kieran Doherty. They called him "Big Doc."

He was arrested in 1976 after a bombing, with John Pickering [who was to join him later on hunger strike] and others including Terry Kirby [who escaped from the Kesh in ‘83 and was later arrested and held for extradition in the U.S.], and in 1978 was given 18 years.

He went on the blanket immediately. He was not an easy man.

He would take no orders. He would neither talk to or "hear" screws. He wouldn't even acknowledge the existence of screws!

He was beaten unmercifully. Once he was hit, kicked and had his testicles squeezed until he was unconscious because he refused to cooperate on a mirror search. Another time eight screws took him into a room for a rectal search. Kieran treated this as usual. They nearly beat him unconscious but he refused to comply. Next they asked him to open his mouth for an oral search, but he refused again and was punched and karate chopped to get him to open his mouth. He didn't. They took him back to his cell. He refused to wash to see the doctor. He was beaten so badly the doctor came to his cell. Later that night, he began to vomit, probably from the stomach punches and kicks, and was taken to the prison hospital.

Typically, Kieran on his release was sent to the punishment cells and charged with attempting to strike a warder.
By God, they will not rub my nose in it

When the first hunger strike was broken through the deceit of the Brits, Kieran was very angry [he was among the last group of hunger strikers in ‘80]: "They are rubbing our noses in it. By God, they will not rub mine."

On Friday, 22 May 1981, Kieran Doherty replaced Raymond McCreesh on hunger strike. Almost immediately, Kieran was put forward for the Dail elections. On 11 July, he was elected TD for Cavan/Monaghan. Some thought that this would get the Irish government into action. Kieran was under no such delusions.

'The Menace'

In the beginning of August, Kevin, Kieran, and Paddy Quinn were all into the last stages of deterioration. The Republican movement was coming under a lot of pressure in the press and from the hunger strikers' families because of the behind the scenes actions of various forces including Catholic Churchmen. Particularly active in this regards was Fr. Denis Faul, whom the prisoners called "The Menace". They were spreading the lie that the Movement was ordering the men on the hunger strike and then orchestrating events. The press loved thier strike themselves. They could call it off as easily and the republican movement would welcome the decision. Even if one man decided off, his decision would be respected."

Thomas McElwee

(--From the old Larkspirit site)

"Speaking of the hunger strike and her sons and their comrades during Thomas' strike, Mrs. McElwee said: "I know Thomas and Benedict would be determined to stand up for their rights. In the Blocks one will stand for another. If this hunger strike isn't settled one way or another they'll all go the same way. There'll never be peace in this country."

Thomas McElwee died at 11.30 a.m. on Saturday, August 8th. Indicative of the callousness of the British government towards prisoners and their families alike neither had the comfort of each other's presence at that tragic moment. He died after 62 days of slow agonising hunger strike with no company other than prison warders - colleagues of those who had brutalised, degraded and tortured him for three-and-a-half years."

**Please see also Irish Hunger Strike 1981 Memorial Website


Kevin Lynch dies on hunger strike - 1 August 1981

Please visit the sites listed for more information and photos

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click thumbnail to go to Fallen Comrades of the IRSM

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click on photo to go to Irish Hunger Strike 1981 Memorial Website


Kevin Lynch - Died August 1st, 1981

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A loyal, determined republican with a great love of life

"THE EIGHTH republican to join the hunger-strike for political status, on May 23rd, following the death of Patsy O'Hara, was twenty-five-year-old fellow INLA Volunteer Kevin Lynch from the small, North Derry town of Dungiven who had been imprisoned since his arrest in 1976.

A well-known and well liked young man in the closely-knit community of his home town, Kevin was remembered chiefly for his outstanding ability as a sportsman, and for qualities of loyalty, determination and a will to win which distinguished him on the sports field and which, in heavier times and circumstances, were his hallmarks as an H-Block blanket man on hunger strike to the death."

>>>Read Kevin's biography

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click thumbnail to go to Larkspirit photo - 'Kevin Lynch's coffin, with INLA honour guard'

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click thumbnail to go to Larkspirit photo - 'INLA honour guard firing a volley over Kevin Lynch's coffin'

H-Block Songs - www.irishhungerstrike.com

Forever In My Mind

O'Hara, Hughes, McCreesh and Sands,
Doherty and Lynch
McDonnell, Hurson, McIlwee, Devine

Darkened years of winter have passed
Summer waits for spring before it lives
Blanket clad and wasted the winter has been long
No gleam of hope a thoughtless nation gives

In silence we walked through the streets
As one by one our hungerstrikers died.


O'Hara, Hughes, McCreesh and Sands,
Doherty and Lynch
McDonnell, Hurson, McIlwee, Devine

Their memory is forever in my mind
Pictures of their faces in my eyes
My sorrow and grief will not subside
And my love for them I will not diguise

In silence we walked through the streets
As one by one our hungerstrikers died.


O'Hara, Hughes, McCreesh and Sands,
Doherty and Lynch
McDonnell, Hurson, McIlwee, Devine

Song by Christy Moore - poem by Pierce Mc Loughlin

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