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Anti H-Block was the political label used in 1981 by supporters of the Irish republican hunger strike who were standing for election in both Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland. "H-Block" was a metonym for the Maze Prison, within whose H-shaped blocks the hunger strike was taking place.
|Dissolved||1981Sinn Féin)(merged into|
|Ideology||Irish republicanism |
The Five Demands
Bobby Sands, the first of these hunger strikers, was nominated in the Westminster April 1981 by-election in Fermanagh and South Tyrone. After his victory and death, the Representation of the People Act was passed to prevent convicted prisoners serving sentences of more than one year from standing for Parliament in the United Kingdom, so Owen Carron, Sands' agent, stood as an "Anti-H-Block Proxy Political Prisoner" and won the seat in the subsequent by-election.
In the Republic of Ireland's general election in June 1981 twelve candidates ran under the Anti H-Block banner, nine of whom were prisoners. Kieran Doherty and Paddy Agnew won seats in Cavan–Monaghan and Louth respectively, while both Joe McDonnell and Martin Hurson narrowly missed election in Sligo–Leitrim and Longford–Westmeath . Eamonn Sweeney noted that:
Altogether, H-Block candidates averaged 15% of the first-preference vote in constituencies they contested. This was a remarkable performance, given that they had been without money, television exposure (thanks to censorship laws), or any sympathetic media. It was probably beyond the wildest dreams of even their director of elections, Daithi O Conaill, who said the day before the election that "if the H-Block prisoner candidates get between 2,500 and 3,000 votes they will have put up a credible performance"
The successes of the Anti H-Block movement galvanised the Irish republican movement, and led to the entry the following year into mainstream electoral politics of Sinn Féin.
Candidates in the 1981 Irish general electionEdit
Nine candidates were officially endorsed by the Anti H-Block committee, eight of which were imprisoned at the time. Three other candidates also ran as Anti H-Block candidates, but it is unknown[by whom?] whether they received formal backing.
Denotes candidates elected to Dáil Éireann
|Constituency||Candidate||Paramilitary and political affiliation||1st Pref. votes||%||Notes|
|Cavan–Monaghan||Kieran Doherty||Provisional IRA – Sinn Féin||9,121||15.10||Elected on the fourth count|
|Clare||Tom McAllister||INLA – Irish Republican Socialist Party||2,120||4.68|
|Cork North-Central||Mairéad Farrell||Provisional IRA – Sinn Féin||2,751||6.05|
|Dublin West||Anthony O'Hara||INLA – Irish Republican Socialist Party||3,034||6.49||Candidate was the brother of Patsy O'Hara|
|Kerry North||Seán McKenna||Provisional IRA – Sinn Féin||3,860||11.26|
|Longford–Westmeath||Martin Hurson||Provisional IRA – Sinn Féin||4,573||10.08||Was not eliminated. Deemed not elected on last count|
|Louth||Paddy Agnew||Provisional IRA – Sinn Féin||8,368||18.29||Topped the Poll|
|Sligo–Leitrim||Joe McDonnell||Provisional IRA – Sinn Féin||5,639||11.82||Eliminated on fourth count|
|Waterford||Kevin Lynch||INLA – Irish Republican Socialist Party||3,337||7.63|
|Constituency||Candidate||Political affiliation||1st Pref. votes||%||Notes|
|Cork South-West||Sean Kelleher||Independent Anti H-Block||1,097||3.25||Son of Tom Kelleher member of the Cork IRA during the war of independence.|
|Dublin North-Central||Vincent Doherty||People's Democracy/National H Block/Armagh Committee||1,481||3.65||Stood in the Taoiseach Charles Haughey's constituency.|
|Dublin North-East||Paddy Healy||League for a Workers Republic/Trade Unionists against the H-Blocks||1,063||3.65||Brother of Seamus Healy TD.|
Paddy Healy served as Secretary of the National H-Block Trade Union Committee; he resigned in protest at the winding-down of the campaign in the Republic of Ireland following the death of Bobby Sands, despite several remaining on hunger strike and subsequently dying.
- "The Hunger Strike of 1981 – A Chronology of Main Events". CAIN. Archived from the original on 31 May 2007. Retrieved 26 May 2007.
- Nicholas Whyte (25 March 2003). "Fermanagh and South Tyrone 1973–1982". Northern Ireland Social and Political Archive. Archived from the original on 7 June 2007. Retrieved 26 May 2007.
- General Election: 11 June 1981 Sligo–Leitrim
- Down Down Deeper and Down: Ireland in the 70's and 80's pg 233 – Eamonn Sweeney
- Down Down Deeper and Down pg232–233 – Eamonn Sweeney
- Other Candidates – Remembering 1981: Hunger Strikers among candidates in 26 Counties Archived 21 July 2011 at the Wayback Machine
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