Sunday, August 1st 2021, Dungiven.
After speaking to my comrade Kevin Lynch for the final time, we parted company and I returned to my cell after the mass. His physical appearance and his last words to me would haunt me for the rest of my life. I was totally aware of the brutality and gross inhumanity that Kevin had been subjected to in the worst Blanket block of all, H Block 3, under the iron fist of PO Paddy Joe Kerr, a war criminal devoid of any sense of humanity or compassion.
There was an inevitability about the situation that Kevin and all of us found ourselves in by 1981, having endured over 4 long years of stark inhumanity at the hands of a callous British Government which refused to recognise us as soldiers and prisoners of war. Our backs were against the wall and we were finally left with 2 choices, either to surrender and accept criminal status, or charge the field through the prison hunger strike to the death and make a final and heroic stand.
Significantly, Kevin Lynch was not driven by hatred of our enemy, but instead by a deep sense of love for us, his comrades, who had become his brothers through suffering. He was prepared to offer up his life for us in an attempt to bring all of our suffering to an end. He felt that he had a duty to the men who had died before him on hunger strike and equally he had a duty to step forward and end the plight of the 300 men like myself who were still entombed in concrete hells. His selfless courage and unparalleled heroism continues to resonate to this day. No honour is too much, no praise too high for this Dungiven son, a shining example of what humanity can really achieve.
Those of us who survived 1981 have lived with the guilt and the pain of loss, which is at times beyond human comprehension, as we struggle in our journey through life knowing that Kevin Lynch and the others laid down their lives for us by breaking our chains through the prison hunger strike. The oppressed Irish people in the North of Ireland may have depended upon us, but we in turn depended upon one another during the H Block struggle and that was the real driving force of the hunger strike in 1981.
Today, the legacy of Kevin Lynch is all around us if we stop for a moment and contemplate on our journey thus far. That journey is not over yet, we are still on it, but the beacon of hope that Kevin lit with his own life on the 1st August 1981, continues to guide those of us who are believers in the cause of Irish Freedom, the soldiers of destiny, and his guiding light will eventually lead us home.
Postscript. His headstone reads, A man can have no greater love than to lay down his life for his friends.
The true revolutionary is guided by a great feeling of love. It is impossible to think of a genuine revolutionary lacking this quality - Ernesto Che Guevara.