Reps. Capuano and Neal Honor Irish Hunger Strikers
May 10, 2001 -- Rep. Michael Capuano (D-MA) and Rep. Richard Neal (D-MA) introduced a resolution commemorating the 20th anniversary of the Irish Hunger Strike. May 5, 2001 marked the 20th anniversary of the death of Bobby Sands. He was the first of ten prisoners in the Maze Prison to see a hunger strike through to the end, making the ultimate sacrifice in an extraordinary effort to bring world attention to the plight of Irish Republicans in Northern Ireland. Before the hunger strike ended on October 3, 1981 nine others would lose their lives: Francis Hughes, Ray McCreesh, Patsy O'Hara, Joe McDonnell, Martin Hurson, Kevin Lynch, Kieran Doherty, Thomas McElwee and Michael Devine.
"It is important to acknowledge and reflect upon the sacrifices made by these ten individuals. Their peaceful demonstration brought world attention to the struggle in Northern Ireland and made a significant political impact on the region's peace process," stated Rep. Mike Capuano.
"I co-sponsored this important resolution in the U.S. House of Representatives because the sacrifice of the Irish Republican hunger strikers who died in 1981 should never be forgotten. Their courage and conviction dramatically changed the politics of the conflict in Ireland, and started the process that led to the historic Good Friday Agreement," said Congressman Richard E. Neal. The impact that the hunger strikers had on world opinion is considered by many to be the turning point of the political struggle in Northern Ireland. Before the hunger strike came to an end, monetary and moral support poured in from Irish and human rights activists around the globe.
In April of 1981, the leader of the hunger strikers, Bobby Sands, was elected to the United Kingdom Parliament. His election demonstrated the political resolve of the reinvigorated Republican movement.
"The early efforts of ten young men who changed the tone of Ireland's campaign toward peace should not be forgotten," stated Rep. Mike Capuano.
The following members of Congress have also signed on as original co-sponsors: Rep. Michael Doyle, Rep. Robert Borski, Rep. Peter King, Rep. Jim McGovern, Rep. Michael McNulty, Rep. Frank Pallone, Rep. Joseph Crowley and Rep. Benjamin Gilman.