Belfast Telegraph

Britain’s days in Ireland numbered, hunger strike rally told

Leona O'Neill

By Leona O'Neill

Sinn Fein MEP Martina Anderson yesterday used the platform at the National Hunger Strike Commemoration in Co Tyrone to announce to the UK Government that its "days in Ireland are numbered".

She ended her speech with the IRA slogan 'Tiocfaidh ar la' to rapturous applause from those gathered and a standing ovation.

Thousands of people marched along a road bedecked with Irish flags, across the border from Lifford in Co Donegal to Strabane to remember those who died during the 1981 hunger strikes at the Maze, as well as those who died at Parkhurst and Wakefield prisons.

Among those in attendance in Strabane were the former Sinn Fein leader Gerry Adams, current leader Mary Lou McDonald - who controversially closed her speech at her first ard fheis with the words 'tiocfaidh ar la', a phrase long associated with the Provisional IRA - and deputy leader Michelle O'Neill.

MEP Martina Anderson danced with a friend to traditional Irish music from a band on the street before taking to the stage to send a strong message to Boris Johnson and his Government, telling the Prime Minister that their "days were numbered in Ireland".

She told a crowd of thousands that there would be no hard border in Ireland.

"I have an Irish republican message for the British Prime Minister," she said.

"Don't think we have suffered your oppression, your state killings and assassinations for decades; don't think we've come this far to fall foul of Britannic jingoism; don't think because you don't like immigrants, don't think that you can make us collateral for your unsavoury, 'Little Englander' attitudes.

"You will not be closing our roads. You will not be blocking our bridges.

"You will not be reinforcing partition by further dividing Down from Louth, Armagh from Monaghan; Fermanagh from Cavan; Derry and Tyrone from Donegal.

Martina Anderson speaking at the event
Martina Anderson speaking at the event

"You will not divide the families of Strabane and Lifford from each other."

She said that when the UK Government says it doesn't want a hard border "we don't believe you".

"Why don't we believe you?" she asked. "Because you've lied your way through every land and to every people you've occupied and oppressed. And you can lie all you want but we know the truth, and the truth is that your days in Ireland are numbered; as the prisoners, as the blanket men, as the protesting women, as the hunger strikers proclaimed in the face of all that pointless British brutality above which they rose with such dignity."

Mrs Anderson also said she had some "advice for the DUP".

"Britain has no friends - it only has interests," she said.

"It is currently indulging you because you serve Brexiteer interests in the life of this British parliament.

"But do not get carried away. If circumstances change, if it suits the British Government, it will ditch you. You can be sure of that."

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