7/13/2006

Martin Hurson RIP

Today marks the 25th Anniversary of the death of Martrin Hurson, the sixth hunger striker to die for the cause he so resolutely believed in. Martin came from the Republican area of Cappagh in East Tyrone.



On May 29th 1981, Martin joined the hunger strike, replacing South Derryman Brendan McLoughlin who was forced to drop out because of a burst stomach ulcer.

In the Free State general election in June, Martin was a candidate in Longford/Westmeath, and although missing election, obtained almost four-and-a-half thousand first preference votes, and over a thousand transfers, before being eliminated at the end of the sixth count, outlasting two Labour candidates and a Fine Gael contender.

Barely one month after election the Free State government's bolstering of Britain's barbaric intransigence led to the death of Martin Hurson, the sixth hunger striker, at that stage, to die.

Having seriously deteriorated after forty days on hunger strike, he was unable to hold down water and died a horrifically agonising death after only forty-four days on hunger strike, at 4.30 a m. on Monday, July 13th.

Martin's body was in Omagh. At 11:30 A.M., the RUC called the undertaker and told him that if the body was not picked up by noon, it would be dumped somewhere unannounced. Just as they told Patsy O'Hara's family.

A thousand people were lining the road when they arrived. The coffin was carried through the winding country roads from Cappagh to the family home a mile away. A piper lead the sad march.

Cardinal O'Fiaich came to the wake the next day. Cappagh was is in his diocese. Oddly, it took courage for the Cardinal to attend a hunger striker's funeral. He knew he would be hammered in the press and elsewhere.

Francie challenged the Cardinal, sitting together over tea in the Hurson living room, for not doing more to save Martin and the other young Irish men dying for their country one after another. But Francie and the family admired him for honoring Martin and the family by coming to the house.

The Cardinal said, "Francie, what can I do? I honor Martin. I've come here to the house to be with the Hurson family. But I have no power. England has the power."

Sean Lynch, Martin's election agent in the Dail election, gave the funeral ration: "I am sure that Oliver Plunkett who was hung, drawn and quartered at Tyburn and Joan of Arc, the young French maiden who was burned at the stake, were among those who received Martin and place him beside Ireland's glorious dead."

Martin died an Irish martyr's death in Her Majesty's hell hole of Long Kesh. He may be gone, but like the rest of his comrades, his sacrafice will never be forgotten.

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