Shots fired over coffin of hunger striker's mother

Shots are fired over the remains of Peggy O'Hara in Derry. Picture by Margaret McLaughlin
Seamus McKinney

Masked gunmen fired a volley of shots last night over the coffin of Peggy O'Hara, the mother of INLA hunger striker Patsy O'Hara.

Mrs O'Hara (84) was given full republican honours as her remains were brought from a chapel of rest to her home in Derry last night.

Earlier this week, the IRSP said Mrs O'Hara had been fully active, politically and militarily, in the republican socialist movement.

Mrs O'Hara died in Altnagelvin hospital in Derry after becoming ill at her home overnight on Monday. In 1981, her son, Patsy was one of ten men who died on hunger strike in the Maze prison in protest against the refusal to grant paramilitary prisoners political status.

He was one of three INLA hunger strikers to die along with Kevin Lynch and Michael Devine.

In 2007, after suffering a stroke, Mrs O'Hara stood in assembly elections as an independent candidate, representing several dissident republican groups.

As her coffin was brought from a chapel of rest at William Street on the edge of the Bogside last night, it was draped in the tricolour and the Starry Plough of the republican socialist movement.

Traffic was brought to a standstill as a colour party of four women and one man, dressed in black and white with their faces covered with scarves and black glasses flanked the coffin. As the hearse made its way along William Street, the cortege was followed by men and women dressed in white shirts and republican socialist movement ties.

When the cortege reached Mrs O'Hara's home at Templegrove in the Buncrana Road area of Derry, the colour party again paid tribute, flanking the coffin as it was brought from the hearse.

Moments later they were replaced by three men, one armed with a SKS rifle and two bearing pistols. To the applause of the small crowd present, the gunman bearing the rifle fired three shots over Mrs O'Hara's coffin as the other two members stood holding the pistols in front of them.

The three men, who were all dressed in black tops and black masks, then knelt briefly in front of the coffin before moving off as Mrs O'Hara's remains were taken into her home.

Mrs O'Hara's funeral will take place from her home on Saturday morning for 10am Requiem Mass at St Columba's Church, Long Tower


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