[Sinn Fein]

15 March 2001

FG TD Brian Hayes's attack on hunger strike murals `offensive'

Sinn Fein Councillor Seán Crowe has described the attack by Fine Gael TD Brian Hayes on the erection of murals in Tallaght commemorating the 1981 hunger strike as ``cheap and offensive, not just to republicans and the people of West Belfast but to the hundreds of thousands of people all over the 26 Counties who supported the hunger strikers''.

Cllr Crowe said:

``The murals commemorate the 20th anniversary of the 1981 hunger strike, an historic period in Irish history which laid the foundation for the current peace process.

``Brian Hayes seems to forget that thousands of people throughout Dublin - including Tallaght - supported the hunger strikers and their just demands.  The murals are to remember that historic period, examine its lessons and the political developments that flowed from that period.  They are temporary visual arts designed to stimulate debate and are due to stay in place for two weeks, as originally intended.

``Brian Hayes's confessed anti-republicanism is getting the better of him.  He is wilfully missing the point and misrepresenting what the hunger strike commemorations are all about.  His hysterical, headline-seeking statement is designed to boost his own profile while trying to distract attention from Fine Gael's problems over the 50 thousand dollar donation it got from Telenor/Esat just weeks after the Fine Gael/Labour government granted Esat a mobile phone network licence.

``Brian Hayes is also worried by the growing support for Sinn Fein.

``His statement about murals commemorating the hunger strikers being sectarian is offensive not just to the people of West Belfast and the hunger strikers' families but also to the thousands of people all over the island and in Dublin South West who supported the hunger strikers.''

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