The bill for Hunger

Sean McKenna, former IRA volunteer, who spent 53 days on Hunger Strike in 1980 and whose deteriorating condition resulted in Brendan Hughes calling an end to that protest has died. With Hughes having died earlier in the year after long term health problems caused by his participation in that strike, it seems many of those that were taken off the Hunger Strike or survived it are now facing a shortened life as a result.

  • austin

    I think it irresponsible of you to post this thread as you know full well that the usual slugger ghouls will be queueing up to gloat over the death of this man.

  • Mick Fealty

    I must admit, threads like this make me question the logic of allowing obit threads on the site at all. Apart from Aust’s possibly self fulfilling prophesy at the start (you ijits didn’t have to prove him right though, did you?) I’ve striped the rest out.

    When they work well they can be incredibly enlightening. But it’s a fair guess that here very few of those commenting knew the man personally or had important things to say about him.

    It’s a fine line between respect for the dead (and their families who hurt the most at this time and whom are just as likely to read these pages as anyone else) and simply allowing one dimensional accounts of a life lived to stand without public comment.

    I did not know the man, but his bigography contains much more than the pro and anti slogans that previously dominated. And much more pain than that alluded to in the piece above.

    In my review of Malachi’s book The Telling Year, I noted that it’s value lay in the uniqueness of a life lived. And resorted to the words of that fine literary critic Edna Longley:

    “…the autobiographical bent of Ireland, mostly seems to say that the usual narratives don’t fit – ‘let me tell you something different, something not been previously brought into account’.”

    I don’t want to reduce the conversations on Slugger in these instances to dull repetitive cant. But there should be higher standards held to obits, whether you are a pro or anti the life lived.

    Those of us who have lost loved ones will know that all criticism is hard to take at a time like this; but that it is more bareably when it is respectfully made.

    That goes for any and for all of us, no exceptions made…

  • Slarti

    According to Tim Pat Coogan’s ‘The IRA’ Sean McKenna’s father died at the age of 42, sent to an early grave from the torture inflicted upon him by the ‘security forces’ during Internment, some of the worst treatment endured by any of the men lifted at that time according to Coogan. At least we can begin to understand what may have driven what was in all likelihood a normal fella to pick up a gun in those extraordinary times, although saying that some will choose to pretend never to understand.


  • Jimmy Sands


    I think you’re in danger of applying a different standard to terrorists than to others. So far as I am aware he has no claim to the public sphere other than his membership of and activities in the provisional IRA. If that is to be left off limits out of respect for the bereaved then what on earth is the point of the thread?

  • Mick Fealty

    No Jimmy. I am fed up with this EVERY TIME it happens. Could I have made that plainer. It isn’t just Slugger which as the problem either (my CIF thread on CCO’B is pretty bad in parts – ‘human filth’?). But Slugger’s the one place where I can effect the ‘culture’ directly.

  • Jimmy Sands

    Mick, the comments on the CiF thread are appalling. Here is much better. I’m not trying to be awkward but I’m genuinely unclear as to where you’re drawing the line.

  • Mick Fealty


    By its nature, it is hard to draw the line consistently if people refuse to come up to the mark themselves.

    I’m proposing we hold obit threads to higher standards than the rest (with a reminder added to the bottom of one each time an obit blog is published).

    If that doesn’t work, they all get published without the capacity to comment.

  • Dave

    Mick, if your current plan is to run around with a censor’s knife on the dubious assumption that relatives of the deceased are reading the thread and would be moved to tears by fair comment, wouldn’t a more sensible plan be not to post such threads until after a timely period for mourning has expired? I’d say three years should be enough to dull such sensitivity. Alternatively, relatives might be better served not reading such threads until they feel that they can emotionally cope with the content. That way at least, you’ll be spared making an ass out of yourself and the rest of us will be spared censorship and silly sermons from said emo ass.

  • Mick Fealty


    Have I been obtuse in any way? I understand as well as anyone why people have strong feelings on such public figures and the matters for which they stand.

    I am asking for people to stow their contempt and deal out their legitimate criticism with some degree of sensitivity.

  • Dave

    The question that you dodged is why do you post such threads if you intend them to operate as a book of condolences? You should know by now that they don’t operate that way (and relatives would be reading them for that purpose at this time).

    Also, I fail to see how my censored post falls into the category you stated as your pretext for censoring it.

    Jimmy said to another poster that it was trite to compare O’Brien to McKenna because one supported abuse of human rights and the other didn’t. My post pointed out why the comparsion was valid.

    [i]The comparison is more apt that some would like to acknowledge: both men supported the violation of human rights.

    Conor Cruise O’Brien, as a government minister, was made aware that the Irish state was violating the human rights of its own citizens by using torture against those suspected of subversion. He failed to bring this to the attention of the government or to act in any way to oppose it. In fact, he blatantly approved of it: “It didn’t worry me.”

    The other gentleman of equally dubious character also supported organised abuse of human rights. [/i]

    He knew that the state was violating the human rights of its own citizens and he did nothing to prevent it. That should have got him a lengthy prison sentence. To lionise such a man while ignoring prima facie evidence that he was not fit to hold public office reveals more about the censor that the lionised party.

    Anyway, it’s your forum – delete whatever you want.