Patsy O'Hara

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Patsy O'Hara
Born(1957-07-11)11 July 1957
Died21 May 1981(1981-05-21) (aged 23)
HM Prison Maze, Northern Ireland
Known forHunger strike of 61 days, from 22 March 1981

Patsy O'Hara (11 July 1957 – 21 May 1981[1]) was an Irish republican hunger striker and member of the Irish National Liberation Army (INLA).


O'Hara was born in Bishop Street, Derry, Northern Ireland. He joined Na Fianna Éireann in 1970, and in 1971, one of his brothers Sean was interned in Long Kesh.[1] In late 1971, at the age of 14, he was shot and wounded by a soldier while manning a barricade.[1][2] Due to his injuries, he was unable to attend the civil rights march on Bloody Sunday but watched it go by him in the Brandywell, and the events of the day had a lasting effect on him.[1]

In October 1974, O'Hara was interned in Long Kesh, and on his release in April 1975 he joined the Irish Republican Socialist Party (IRSP) and INLA.[2] He was arrested in Derry in June 1975 and held on remand for six months.[1] In September 1976, he was arrested again and once more held on remand for four months.[2]

On 10 May 1978, he was arrested on O'Connell Street, Dublin, Republic of Ireland under section 30 of the Offences Against the State Act, and was released 18 hours later.[2] He returned to Derry in January 1979 and was active in the INLA. On 14 May 1979, he was arrested and was convicted of possessing a hand grenade. He was sentenced to eight years in prison in January 1980.[2]

He became Officer Commanding of the INLA prisoners at the beginning of the first hunger strike in 1980, and he joined the 1981 strike on 22 March.[3]

On Thursday, 21 May, at 11:29 pm, he died after 61 days on hunger strike, at the age of 23. In accordance with his wishes, his parents did not get him the medical intervention needed to save his life.[citation needed] His corpse was found to be mysteriously disfigured prior to its departure from prison and before the funeral, including signs of his face being beaten, a broken nose, and cigarette burns on his body.[3]


His mother Peggy O'Hara, was a candidate in the 2007 Northern Ireland Assembly election in the Foyle constituency.[4] She was not elected, but she was one of the more successful dissident republican candidates opposed to the new policy of the Sinn Féin leadership of working with the Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI), and won 1,789 votes. On the eve of the election, over 330 former republican prisoners wrote a letter to the Derry Journal endorsing her campaign.[5][6][7]


  1. ^ a b c d e Tírghrá. National Commemoration Centre. 2002. p. 235. ISBN 0-9542946-0-2.
  2. ^ a b c d e Holland, Jack & McDonald, Henry (1996). INLA Deadly Divisions. Poolbeg. p. 272. ISBN 1-85371-263-9.
  3. ^ a b Feldman, Allen (1991). Formations of Violence. The Narrative of the Body and Political Terror in Northern Ireland. Chicago: The University of Chicago Press. pp. 264, 302. ISBN 0-226-24071-1.
  4. ^ Northern Ireland election results, ARK, accessed 16 May 2010
  5. ^ Peggy O'Hara's campaign website Archived 4 March 2008 at the Wayback Machine
  6. ^ "Correspondence: Republican opposition". 2 April 2007. Archived from the original on 27 September 2007. Retrieved 3 March 2020.
  7. ^ another article which discusses her campaign Archived 29 November 2007 at the Wayback Machine

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