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Vigil marks 40 years since hunger striker’s death

A CANDLELIT vigil was among a series of commemorations this week marking the 40th anniversary of the death of Galbally man, Martin Hurson (pictured) on hunger strike.

He died at 4.30am on July 13, 1981. The vigil, which took place at the Garden of Remembrance in Carrickmore, was held to coincide with the exact moment that the IRA volunteer had passed away.

He was the sixth hunger striker to die.

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Among those who attended the commemorations this week were members of the Hurson family, his fiancee Bernie, many from the local community and Sinn Fein politicians, including West Tyrone MP, Orfhlaith Begley and the Fermanagh South Tyrone MP, Michelle Gildernew.

Ms Begley said it was a “great honour” to pay tribute to Martin Hurson on his 40th anniversary along with his fiancee at that time.

“The people of Tyrone and Ireland are extremely proud of Martin and remain inspired by his courage and determination,” she added.

‘Full of craic and life’

Fermanagh South Tyrone MP, Michelle Gildernew, said the 26-year-old was someone who was a young man “full of craic and life”.

“Our job as politicians might be difficult, but it is nothing compared to Martin Hurson’s. Our families might have to make sacrifices, but it’s nothing compared to the sacrifices that the Hurson and other families made. We are truly indebted to the men and women of 1981 and the ten who died on hunger strike and those others who joined them.”

West Tyrone MLA, Declan McAleer, described the commemorations as “hugely emotional”.

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“It was a hugely emotional experience standing at Martin’s graveside today on his 40th anniversary with his family while his comrade Peter Kane recited a poem he penned about Martin and the struggle for freedom.

“It was straight from his heart and we could all feel it,” Mr McAleer said.

Listen: Martin Hurson’s fiance Bernie Donnelly speaks to Alan Rodgers on the Ulster Herald’s What’s the Story podcast on the 40th anniversary of his death  

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