Abandoned to the Poverty of Defeat

Former blanketman and hunger striker Gerard Hodgins with a speech he delivered at the Celtic Commemoration Committee hunger strike march and rally in Glasgow on 24 May 2014.

Today we remember the men who died on hunger strike in 1981. There is nobility in struggle and the selfless sacrifice of 10 men under horrendous conditions during the spring and summer of 1981 was a noble sacrifice. It is on a par with the noble efforts and sacrifices of the men and women of 1916 who went out to fire the opening salvo against the British Empire on Dublin’s streets and amongst whom was a local Glasgow woman, Margaret Skinnider, a member of Connolly’s Irish Citizen’s Army who was there to fire those opening shots.
We hungered believing in our leaders and in their integrity and competence to deal with the British honourably on our behalf. But the passage of time and the revelations of “secret” contacts between Gerry Adams and his inner cabal with the British make for uncomfortable knowledge.

We expected the Brits to drive us to our graves – they are our enemy and enemies rarely show compassion to their adversary. We did not know nor even suspect that some of our own leaders would prolong the hunger strike, adding to the death toll, so that they could build political careers for themselves at the expense of other men and women’s suffering.

The pain and anguish of the hunger strike is a running sore in the republican psyche and we may never know the full truth of all that transpired during those times; the only people with the full details of all that went on are Gerry Adams and the British, none of whom are either open for honesty or credibility.

33 years after the hunger strike all we have is lies, evasions, revisionism and a determined attempt to character-assassinate unrepentant republicans who refuse to buy into the Adams spin.

Brendan Hughes was no tout! The Dark was one of the finest soldiers of the Republic yet Sinn Fein has littered the Falls Road with graffiti alleging Brendan and other veterans of the long war to be informers. Unbroken and incorruptible Republicans are being maligned by a Sinn Fein leadership who have yet to explain how the upper echelon of the Republican Movement became so wealthy so suddenly while the Republican Movement were abandoned to the poverty of defeat.

Throughout the 20th century 22 Irish republicans died on hunger strike in British and Free State prisons.

English domination has never been benign or compassionate; the greed of their ruling classes has always been paramount in their dealings with us. In Ireland they let a million people die in an artificial famine while in Scotland the same famine led to many deaths and the displacement of 1.7 million people from the Highlands and Islands, forced into either emigration or joining the growing working classes in the developing industrial towns and cities where they became wage slave living under appalling conditions of poverty.

Our enemies have starved us, beat us, shot us, converted our former leaders to their way of thinking and yet we are still here, still ploughing away to maintain the memory of and revive the republican flame and make it relevant to our people. It is the flame that sustained the men of 1981 and the flame that sustains us still today. Alba Abu!


  1. Gerard the most perfect response to to your speech,would be to ask everyone to remember that Pearse summed up the "leadership" of quisling $inn £eind at O Donovan O Rossa,s graveside."The defenders of the realm have worked well in secret and in the open.They think they have pacified Ireland.They think that they have purchased half of us and intimidated the other half They think they have forseen everything,that they have provided against everything but the fools the fools ....

  2. I'm born and bred scouse to Irish parents from Fermanagh, only going back once a year at least in my 37 so please forgive the naivety of my question but what is the consensus on the ground at the moment with Adams, McGuiness et all? Sinn fein seem to be getting a stranglehold in the north and growing in the south yet the voices of dissent seem to be getting more articulate and louder? It seems the rise of the independents in where people need to focus to ensure the teachings of the united Irishmen, catholic, protestant and dissenter.......a removal of the green and orange and a focus towards social democracy seems the safest bet towards gaining trust between all communities and the end goal of a united Ireland in my eyes. On a side note, does anyone know how pat cox got on in Fermanagh? Ex sinn fein independent.

  3. fair play to you gerard.

  4. That is a wonderfully poetic phrase “abandoned to the poverty of defeat”, it hits you in a way that only poetry can. In terms of the broad thrust of the piece, Sean MacStiofain warned against the present outcome as early as 1975, in his biography “Memoirs of a Revolutionary”, he says:
    “certainly the sacrifices and suffering of revolutionary war can never be justified by mere reform”.

  5. Adamsism in the North will continue to reap the benefits of having no strong opposition. It has played the sectarian card in Belfast and won. It was able to fool the gullible into believing that the so called peace process was in danger and again it won.

    The problem for them is that Republicanism is once again stirring, new life is being breathed into it and I believe that if Republicans take that all important step and remove the guns then the lie that is the peace process will eventually be exposed.

    Down South they became the stick with which the frustrated could beat the established parties for the mess they made of the country. Clearly now that they've taken their place among those ruining the country their to be trashed thoroughly is only a matter of an election or two away.

    Already we seen signs of this when the erstwhile confident Mary Lou McDonald was left discomposed when asked how they would raise money for local government.

  6. Ooops!

    " Clearly now that they've taken their place among those ruining the country their to be trashed thoroughly is only a matter of an election or two away..."

    Should read...

    Clearly now that they've taken their place among those ruining the country their own trashing is only a matter of an election or two away.

  7. Just curious, 16 years on and it is still the peace process I wonder when they will actually declare peace or will the process continue to be used as a political weapon in order for the politicians to blackmail the electorate as now they seem to be the only ones twisting the process using it in threats to its stability.