A powerful poem written by Oglach Martin Hurson just before he joined the 1981 Hunger Strike. He would have turned 62 yesterday. RIP

What compels young men to die?

What compels young men to die
A death so long and cruel
To suffer years of pain and shame
in solitary in jails?

I speak of men like Hughes and Sands, O’Hara and McCreesh
Laying in the blocks of hell where brutality is released.
Untold pain, heartaches, restless lonely nights
Where men find strength within their hearts, to stand for what is right.

Oppression equals slavery and resistance stems from both
And those who fight to end it are soldiers of the truth.

No matter if they recognise the truth in here or not
The products of these years of pain upon them they have brought
This Hunger Strike where young men die not for glory, not for gain
but for recognition of the wars raging through our land.

Lying in their beds this night just bones and clinging flesh
Pale and ashen, cold and worn in the H-Blocks of Long Kesh
They are dying for the people’s cause, not their own or foreign greed
They’ll die if you don’t help them, in this, their hour of need.

With many thanks to: Alex Maskey for the original posting.

ON THIS DAY IN 1981 Martin Hurson from Cappagh, died aged 24, after 46 days on Hungerstrike in the H Blocks of Long Kesh ! Remember Him With Pride !


Tyrone National Graves Association

Martin was born on September 13th 1956 in Aughnaskea, Cappagh. He was the 8th of 9 nine children. He was arrested on November 11th 1976 after a series of swoops on the Cappagh area by the British. He was subsequently tortured and forced to sign statements admitting republican activity. He was charged with a landmine attack in Galbally (which was later dropped) but still faced charges of IRA membership, possession of the Galbally landmine, conspiracy to kill members of enemy forces, causing an explosion in Cappagh in September 1975 and possession of a landmine in Reclain in February 1976.

Once in Long Kesh Martin went straight on the blanket and then replaced Brendan McLaughlin on the hungerstrike on the 29th of May 1981 after Brendan was forced to withdraw due to a perforated stomach ulcer.

While on hungerstrike Martin took part in a Free State election for Longford/Westmeath, he polled four and a half thousand first preference votes and over a thousand transfers.

Unfortunately after 40 days on strike Martin became unable to hold down water and died of dehydration less than a week later. He was 24 years old.

Remember him with pride

Soldiers celebrated IRA death with cake

Security forces kept memorabilia of shot suspects

Northern Ireland: special report

Undercover soldiers in Northern Ireland would celebrate the shooting dead of a terrorist suspect with a cake adorned with the victim’s name in icing, it emerged yesterday.

The BBC released a photograph of one of the cakes, in the shape of a cross, baked to mark the SAS killing of the IRA man William Price, 28, in Ardboe, Co Tyrone, 16 years ago. It was marked RIP, with his name and where he died.

The reporter Peter Taylor discovered it when interviewing members of the security forces for Brits, the BBC2 series on the role of intelligence during the troubles. They often kept memorabilia, including snaps of shot suspects, and the cake photo was no big deal to them, he said.

In tonight’s episode, a member of 14 Intelligence Company, an undercover army unit, denied there was any shoot to kill policy. Soldiers adhered to the yellow card stipulating when they could legitimately open fire, she said. But they would mark the killing of suspected IRA volunteers.

The woman, identified as Anna, said: “We celebrated, if you like, as the IRA would if they had shot somebody. They made no secret of the fact that they celebrate the death of a soldier or a policeman, and they can be highly public about their celebrations. We celebrated in the same way. We went to the bar. We drank quite a lot. The cooks made us a cake.”

She added: “After a shooting occurred, if a terrorist was killed there was a cake made with their name on it, part of the celebration. Some of the cakes were in the form of a cross with RIP on it.”

Asked by Taylor whether she thought that macabre, she replied: “Possibly, but the saying is: Live by the sword and die by the sword.”

Price was shot four times in July 1984 as the IRA planned an incendiary attack on a factory to coincide with the death of the hunger striker Martin Hurson. The SAS was laying in wait.

Two soldiers told the inquest they had opened fire fearing Price was about to shoot. He was hit in the legs and then in the head as he was in a sitting position.

An IRA statement at the time said Price was scouting a way to the factory with another IRA man, adding: “When they got within 20 yards or so of the bushes, three to four figures rose in front of them, and suddenly the whole place lit up with gunfire. William Price fell moaning. The other volunteer crawled back through the long grass to make his escape.

“From the time William Price was shot and wounded to the time the other volunteer got out of the firing line, the shooting never stopped. Some time after that shooting the other volunteers heard the SAS whooping hysterically like Indians in a wild west film. A good three minutes after the firing, there seemed to be one shot and then a burst of shots.”

A private in the parachute regiment said on the programme that he had arrived on the scene after a shootout in Belfast between undercover soldiers and the IRA. It was hard to know who the enemy was. He began dressing the wound of an injured with his own shoulder dressing, reassuring him. The victim was going blue when the private learned he was an IRA man.

The private added: “Without thinking, I took the shoulder dressing off, threw it on the floor, picked up a handful of grass and sod of earth and shoved that where the shoulder dressing had been in his femur, obviously creating a load of pain and alarm.” Asked if he had said anything, he replied: “‘It looks like you’re on the way out, mate,’ and that was it. Thought no more of it.”

David Trimble‘s plan to return to power sharing with Sinn Fein is to be challenged with alternative proposals by opponents in his Ulster Unionist party. They would be put to the party’s council before Saturday’s crucial vote, said Jeffrey Donaldson, MP for Lagan Valley, and would deal “with the issue of arms and the issue of government.

WITH MANY THANKS TO : John Mullin, Ireland correspondent,guardian.co.uk