Belfast Telegraph

Hunger striker's family cuts SF ties as band row escalates

Raymond McCartney
Raymond McCartney
Donna Deeney

By Donna Deeney

The family of hunger striker Kevin Lynch has cut all ties with Sinn Fein.

It follows a row over a band named after Lynch appearing at a weekend commemoration.

Less than a day after party members stood alongside the Lynch family in Dungiven to commemorate the anniversary of his death, Sinn Fein MLA Raymond McCartney visited Mr Lynch's sister to tell her the band named in memory of her brother was not welcome at a commemoration in Strabane - or any future Sinn Fein event. The band said this is because it had marched with dissident republican bands in Scotland recently.

Thousands of republicans attended Sunday's national hunger strike commemoration in the Co Tyrone town. The Lynch family boycotted the event and removed all artefacts belonging to the former INLA prisoner who died in the Maze prison on August 1, 1981 from Sinn Fein's Dungiven office.

A source close to the family said: "Kevin's sister has been left deeply upset by all of this, the whole family have because it came out of the blue. The commemoration for Kevin went ahead in Dungiven as it does every year, but then Raymond McCartney called to the house and told Kevin's sister and brother that the band wasn't welcome at the hunger strike commemoration in Strabane. He said it was a decision taken by the bands association and not Sinn Fein, but he was there doing their work, so Kevin's sister knew it was Sinn Fein.

"The family were deeply disappointed that Raymond McCartney agreed to deliver this message because they felt as a hunger striker himself he'd have known the hurt he caused them.

"Kevin's family were also hurt by Sinn Fein in Dungiven, who clearly knew this was going to happen because the meeting with Raymond McCartney was supposed to take place before Kevin's commemoration, but they got it put back.

"The family have removed everything belonging to Kevin from the Sinn Fein office in Dungiven and will have nothing more to do with them."

There has been controversy over Sinn Fein MEP Martina Anderson dancing in a street in Strabane during the commemoration. Declan McGuinness, brother of the late Martin McGuinness, also voiced his disgust at Ms Anderson's antics, describing them as "stratospherically beyond inappropriate" on social media.

Foyle MLA Mr McCartney declined to comment.

A Sinn Fein spokesman said: "This was an issue between the bands association and the Kevin Lynch band. Sinn Fein worked to attempt to resolve the issue. We hold the Lynch family in the highest esteem and we deeply regret the family's decision."

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