Text of oration at Dungiven commemoration for INLA Volunteer Kevin Lynch, Sunday, July 28

Below is the oration delivered at the commemoration for hunger-striker INLA Volunteer Kevin Lynch in Dungiven on Sunday (July 28). 

Kevin was born on May 25, 1956 and died on August 1, 1981 in the H-Blocks of Long Kesh, after an extraordinary 71 days on hunger strike. The Dungiven oration was given by Dan Ó Murchú of the IRSP.

 

A chairde ‘s a comradaithe ba mhaith liom fáilte a chuir raibh uillig, go raibh maith agaibh as a bheith anseo.

Friends and comrades I’d like to welcome you all here today as we remember the life and legacy of INLA Vol. Kevin Lynch.

On the 1st of August 1981 Kevin passed away after 71 gruelling days on hunger strike at the young age of 25, a year older than I am today.

Coming from a staunch republican community the stories from the dark days of the H-Blocks, of the Blanket protest and the hunger strikes were often told.

Dan Ó Murchú delivering the oration in Dungiven; pic by Micheál Ó Ceallaigh

Young republicans, such as myself, who did not live through the dark days of the conflict, often struggle to truly comprehend the conditions that could give rise to such an undaunted determination as was shown by Kevin and his nine comrades.

As a result, I believe, the younger generation has a tendency to almost mythologise Kevin and his comrades.

Over these last few days, speaking with friends and comrades of Kevin and reading about his days as a young lad growing up here in Dungiven, to his days as a revolutionary republican socialist I found the story of a man that trumps all the stories of the Irish mythological heroes. It’s the story of an ordinary lad growing up in extraordinary times, of a young man who, when pushed by the forces of oppression pushed right back. Kevin’s steel-hearted determination, strength and loyalty were evidenced on the Gaelic pitch, long before becoming an active Vol of the INLA.

Pic: Micheál Ó Ceallaigh

It was this passion for our native games coupled with witnessing first hand the destructive force of an alien government and it’s enforced social system that drove Kevin to join the RSM. As a testament to his loyalty not only to his country but to his class, he set about to break the long established foreign occupation and to build the workers Republic. The inspiration drew by young republican socialists from Kevin’s life cannot be stated enough. The role played by Kevin and his comrades before and after has propelled the Republican Socialist struggle to where we are at today. It’s quite fitting, then, that amongst us today is a large number of young and confident republican socialists almost 40 years after his death, still endeavouring to build the Republic that he envisaged.

After being sentenced in December 1977, Kevin immediately joined his comrades on the blanket. It was under these conditions, in what I can only imagine to be absolute hell, that his commitment to his cause and comrades shone through.

Suffering daily beatings from hostile screws whilst living under the worst conditions imaginable Kevin and his comrades stood firm. While a cold and callous government in Whitehall, supported by their lackeys in Leinster House, worked overtime to criminalise RS POWs, and in turn the core ideological principles for which they stood, their propaganda fell largely on deaf ears at home and abroad.

Having exhausted all other options republican POWs were left with no option but to use the last means at their disposal to alleviate the suffering of their comrades. Kevin, not being one for taking a back seat, joined the hunger strike. In leading the protest Kevin and his 9 comrades sent a clear and concise message to the British government that the ideological doctrines of the RSM would not be labelled criminal nor will those out to oppose the two failed statelets on this island and its enforced social system. On that, comrades, it’s important to note the Republic Kevin fought for has yet to be realised.

The prison system and attempts at criminalisation still persist to this day. Given the enormity of the sacrifice made by Kevin and his 9 comrades it is not enough for the next generation of republican socialists meeting annually to pay mere mouth tribute to his struggle. The debt owed by us to those that paid the ultimate price in the struggle for national liberation and socialism can only be repaid when the 32-county socialist Republic has become a reality.

On that comrades I’d like to finish up on a quote from Che Guevara: “The true revolutionary is guided by a great feeling of love. It is impossible to think of a genuine revolutionary lacking this quality.”

There is no doubt comrades it was his love of family, community and comrades that made Kevin a true revolutionary. Go raibh maith agaibh uillig.

 

Posted on August 2, 2019, in 1981 hunger strike, 21st century republicanism and socialism, Commemorations, General revolutionary history, Historiography and historical texts, Hunger strikes, Irish politics today, IRSP, Partition, Political education and theory, Prisoners - past, Public events - Ireland, Repression and resistance in 1970s and 1980s, Repression and resistance in the six counties today, Republicanism post-1900, Revolutionary figures, Social conditions, Workers rights. Bookmark the permalink. Comments Off on Text of oration at Dungiven commemoration for INLA Volunteer Kevin Lynch, Sunday, July 28.

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