PSNI say ‘no offences in this jurisdiction’ after call to investigate claims made in hunger striker Francis Hughes 40th anniversary tribute video

A video posted on social media to acknowledge the 40th anniversary of the death of Francis Hughes on hunger strike has been condemned by UUP east Antrim MLA John Stewart.

Wednesday, 26th May 2021, 1:17 pm

A video posted on social media to acknowledge the 40th anniversary of the death of Francis Hughes on hunger strike has been condemned by UUP east Antrim MLA John Stewart.

Mr Stewart is now calling on the PSNI and Garda to investigate claims made in the recent video which was posted on Bellaghy Sinn Fein Facebook page entitled ‘A Tribute to Óglach Francis Hughes’.

Francis Hughes, from Bellaghy in Co Londonderry, joined the IRA when he was 17-years-old and died on hunger strike on May 12, after 59 days without food.

Sign up to our daily newsletter

The i newsletter cut through the noise

“The recent video posted by Bellaghy Sinn Fein in tribute to the IRA terrorist Francis Hughes raises a number of important issues that require further scrutiny and have a bearing on all legacy investigations,” said Mr Stewart.

“Firstly, Gerry Adams admits to having Hughes stay with him in Donegal, presumably when Hughes was on the run.

“Secondly, a ‘friend’ states that whilst in Donegal with Hughes, a pub owner, who he describes as a ‘top Fine Gaeler’ enabled Hughes to escape from the Garda who had police cars at both the front and rear of the pub.

“With regard to the first instance, to knowingly harbour a wanted man, suspected of multiple murders and attempted murders is undoubtedly illegal activity and should be the subject of a police investigation.

“With regard to the second incident, the PSNI should contact the Garda in a bid to establish who this Fine Gael publican was, because his actions undoubtedly cost lives.

“These admissions point us to the very crux of the issue of legacy investigations.

“Just how can republicans – or anyone else for that matter - demand that long retired soldiers be pursued through the courts for alleged offences 50 years ago, if republicans are able to publicly admit to very serious offences and be given a free pass?

“I will therefore be writing to the PSNI to ask them to take the appropriate action.”

When asked for a comment, a PSNI spokesman said: “Earlier this month, police were made aware of a video posted on social media.

“Having assessed its contents, police have not identified any offences in this jurisdiction.”

According to CAIN the men who died on hunger strike in 1981 were:

Bobby Sands (27) - Irish Republican Army (IRA) and Member of Parliament (MP) - began hunger strike on 1 March 1981 and died on 5 May 1981 after 66 days without food

Francis Hughes (25) - Irish Republican Army (IRA) - joined hunger strike on 15 March 1981 and died on 12 May 1981 after 59 days without food

Raymond McCreesh (24) - Irish Republican Army (IRA) - joined hunger strike on 22 March 1981 and died on 21 May 1981 after 61 days without food

Patsy O’Hara (23) - Irish National Liberation Army (INLA) - joined hunger strike on 22 March 1981 and died on 21 May 1981 after 61 days without food

Joe McDonnell (30) - Irish Republican Army (IRA) - joined hunger strike on 8 May 1981 and died on 8 July 1981 after 61 days without food

Martin Hurson (29) - Irish Republican Army (IRA) - joined hunger strike on 28 May 1981 and died on 13 July 1981 after 46 days without food

Kevin Lynch (25) - Irish National Liberation Army (INLA) - joined hunger strike on xx May 1981 (?) and died on 1 August 1981 after 71 days without food

Kieran Doherty (25) - Irish Republican Army (IRA) and Teachta Dáil (TD; member of the Irish Parliament) - joined hunger strike on 22 May 1981 and died on 2 August 1981 after 73 days without food

Thomas McElwee (23) - Irish Republican Army (IRA) - joined hunger strike on 8 June 1981 and died on 8 August 1981 after 62 days without food

Michael Devine (27) - Irish National Liberation Army (INLA) - oined hunger strike on 22 June 1981 and died on 20 August 1981 after 60 days without food

A message from our editor: Thank you for reading this article. We’re more reliant on your support than ever as the shift in consumer habits brought about by Coronavirus impacts our advertisers.

Please consider purchasing a copy of the paper. You can also support trusted, fact-checked journalism by taking out a digital subscription of the News Letter.