Hunger-strikers’ names will outlive Thatcher’s (Derry Journal)

A brother of Derry hunger striker Patsy O’Hara has said his legacy will outline that of former British prime minister Margaret Thatcher who died yesterday.

Mrs Thatcher, who was 87, was in power at the time of the 1981 hunger strike and was criticised by nationalists and republicans for her uncompromising stance during the prison protest, which led to the deaths of ten republicans, including two Derry men.

Tony O’Hara, whose brother died in Long Kesh in May 1981 after 61 days on hunger strike, said last night that Mrs Thatcher will be forgotten but the ten hunger strikers will continue to be remembered around the world.

“Over the next few days tributes will be paid to her but they will be full of hypocrisy. She was forgotten about for years and will be again in a few weeks. Her own party were embarrassed by her and it should be remembered that they ousted her as leader,” he claimed.

He also said that watching news coverage praising the former prime minister will be difficult for his family, including his mother, Peggy, one of the few parents of a hunger striker still alive.

The former blanketman, who was released from Long Kesh for less than 12 hours to attend his brother’s funeral, also described Mrs Thatcher as a “warmonger”.

“Not only did she pursue a policy of war in Ireland but she also did across the world in the Malvinas. She rejected pleas for peace and for the lives of the hunger strikers made by Cardinal O’Fiach and Bishop Daly,” he added.

Mr O’Hara also said British policy in the North, as directed by Mrs Thatcher, failed.

“She thought she could break the prisoners and criminalise the struggle for Irish freedom but my brother Patsy, and his nine comrades and all the other prisoners who took part in the protests showed her it could not be done.

“That is what people around the world will remember,” he said.


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