Hunger striking in Ireland dates back to pre-Christian times .
People who lacked power used to fast to draw attention to an injustice when there was no other avenue to justice.
It was basically saying to the wider community ‘I will prove my integrity and honesty in my commitment to go without food until death – if necessary’.
Everyone understood how profoundly difficult a prolonged period of fasting was.
Everyone could witness that commitment and integrity over time
Remember – Irish political prisoners starving to death.
Some like Michael Gowan and Thomas Ashe died of force-feeding.
“In any analysis there comes a point at which the frequency of exceptions becomes an embarrassment. My narrative had encountered a wide range of conscionable offenders”.
“ This is the person whose crime comes not from viciousness, malice or dishonest gain, but from political conviction, an irreconcilable difference with some aspect of state or religious policy, or the demands of an ethic out of kilter with the times“.
“Like a thread through all this there ran several generations of Irish nationalists and republicans. Numbers apart (and all these offenders never amounted to more than a tiny percentage of those who annually passed through the courts and prisons), this was too great an accumulation of protests and disobedience to treat as an aside to the story of punishment”.
John Mitchel – one of the prisoners:
“And, knowing it, did I not run all the risk? Yes; and I did well. The possible sacrifice indeed was terrible; but the enterprise was great, and was needful. And, moreover, that sacrifice shall not have been made in vain”.
“And mere numbers were misleading. By the nature of their crimes these men and women often had a disproportionate impact on national life. The manner of their punishment, the continuation of protest in custody, and the official and political response they provoked, extended their campaigns and heightened their notoriety and influence”.
The 1973 Old Bailey bombing was a car bomb attack outside the London “Old Bailey” Courthouse on 8 March 1973.The Provisional IRA Active Service Unit was caught trying to leave the country at Heathrow Airport prior to the explosions, as the police had been forewarned about the bombings and were checking all passengers to Belfast and Dublin
The IRA Volunteers had to be tried at Winchester Crown court as the Old Bailey was wrecked by the bomb. The trial took 10 weeks and was set amid extremely strict security.The judge sentenced eight to life imprisonment for the bombings and 20 years for conspiracy.
The Price sisters immediately went on hunger strike, soon followed by Feeney and Kelly, for the right not to do prison work and to be repatriated to a jail in Ireland.
Watch the clip below to understand what force-feeding really means
IRISH POLITICAL PRISONERS, 1848–1922 bySeán McConville. First published 2003
by Routledge. 11 New Fetter Lane, London EC4P 4EE ISBN 0-203-98716-0 Master e-book ISBN
This edition published in the Taylor and Francis e-Library, 2005.
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collection of thousands of eBooks please go to http://www.eBookstore.tandf.co.uk.”