Steve McQueens film Hunger has generated much discussion both here and elsewhere. Last night, off the back of interest from the film, éirígí hosted one of a series of public meetings on the topic in the Conway Mill, Belfast. The speakers were Bernard Fox who spent 32 days on Hunger Strike, Jake Mac Siacais a former cellmate of Bobby Sands and Fergus Ó hÍr a founding member of the National H-Block Armagh Committee and a former Belfast City Councillor. Sluggers cameraman in residence, Gerard, went along. Below is his account and footage.
UPDATE: More material added below the fold
An opportunity to speak to people directly engaged in these events
Last night’s talk was to a packed venue, Bernard wasn’t great, but I think he is a bit reserved, if you listen to him it comes through. Bernard Fox, Jake Mac Siacais and Fergus Ó hÍr were the three speakers, the outline of the talk was, a blanket man, a hunger striker and building the political response to the hunger strike. It closely followed the film ‘hunger’. Fox speaks on talking to McQueen. What influenced him to make the movie, how McQueen had included the screws with knuckledusters during the beatings. Fox told him that didn’t happen, just tell the truth and they removed the knuckle dusters.
The priest in the film, and the role of the priest during the actual hunger strikes is discussed. Fr Faul, gets roasted. He was a bigot according to Fox, and anti republican according to Jake. Both agree he had his own agenda. A questioner puts a question inspired by Joe Duffy’s recent article in the press. Was the brutality republican propaganda?? Where will republicanism be 30 years from now? That gets answered well, it will still be here, in what form we don’t know, and a call for unity from Mac Siacais.
A very emotional meeting, with many questions coming from young people who’s knowledge of the hunger strike is all second hand.
Putting the hunger strike into perspective.
The prisoners were the weakest link, smash them and you smash the struggle: Criminalisation:
The role of the priest. Faul was clearly political, he had his own agenda, which was anti republican and a bigot:
The brutality was it republican propaganda? (Beginning with Fox discussing meeting the director of the film leading on to the brutality aspect):
Building a political response to the hunger strike. The emergence of the relatives action committees, with no clear strategy:
UPDATE: A friend has kindly forwarded me some links to coverage from the defunct Voice of the Lark website of a similar event in the Conway Mill in 2001 reviewing the Hunger Strike and political situation, it had contributions from Brendan Hughes, Marian Price, Tommy McKearney and John Nixon. Though the message seems very similar.