WEST Belfast MLA Pat Sheehan has concluded a visit to the USA which included the unveiling of a memorial to the 1981 hunger strikers in Rhode Island.
As part of the visit, Pat travelled to Boston, Massachusetts; Hartford, Connecticut; and Providence, Rhode Island, where the Sinn Féin MLA met with community leaders, Irish-American organisations and supporters.
Busy days in Boston at the Massachusetts State Capitol. @PatSheehanMLA briefed Senators & Representatives about the latest election results & reiterated the importance of continued American support for the Good Friday Agreement & for the need to begin planning for Irish Unity. pic.twitter.com/NSvEbVeW9S— Friends of Sinn Féin USA (@FOSFUSA) May 24, 2023
Pat spoke at the unveiling of a memorial to the 1981 hunger strikers in Providence, the capital of the state of Rhode Island. The event was organised by the Rhode Island 1916 Commemoration Committee. Pat Sheehan was formerly a prisoner in the H-Blocks and took part in the 1981 hunger strikes – where ten republican prisoners died in their campaign for political status. He spent 55 days refusing food before the hunger strike was eventually called off.
After the event Pat Sheehan said: "I was honoured to be invited to speak yesterday at the unveiling ceremony of a new hunger strike monument in Providence, Rhode Island, to commemorate my comrades who died on hunger strike in Long Kesh in 1981."
In Providence, Rhode Island USA listening to @PatSheehanMLA - political prisoner, blanket man, hunger striker and elected official for @sinnfeinireland celebrating our memory of the ‘81 hunger strikers and the historic victories in the past few days in the North of Ireland 🇮🇪. pic.twitter.com/7Ct2Z3TGPA— Patrick Crowley (@PatCrowley401) May 21, 2023
Also speaking at the event was Derry native Tricia McIver who discussed the 1916/1981 connection and its relevance today.
The site of the monument is also the site of a memorial dedicated to those who died in the Irish Famine of 1845-1852.