40th anniversary of hunger striker Doherty TD marked

Doherty was elected as an Anti H-Block TD for the Cavan–Monaghan constituency at the 1981 general election, held in Ireland on June 11.

Irish unity would be the “most fitting monument for an Irish patriot” of the calibre of Kieran Doherty, Deputy Pauline Tully told a hunger strike commemorative event in Cavan Town.

The event held at Market Square on Monday was held to mark the 40th anniversary of the death of the Cavan-Monaghan TD.

“A united Ireland presents an exciting prospect to shape something different, something new, something better,” said Deputy Tully.

After 73 days of hunger strike Kieran Doherty died on August 2, 1981. The 25 year old had been elected as an Anti H-Block TD for the Cavan–Monaghan constituency at the 1981 general election, held in Ireland on June 11.

Mr Doherty, an apprentice heating engineer, was convicted and sentenced to 18 years for possession of firearms and explosives, with another four years for the hijack.

“The southern state is not the nation that Kieran or any republican yearns for,” said Deputy Tully. “People wake up every morning and know that the partitioned Ireland of 2021 isn’t working for them, their families or our communities. Daily, we see the failed politics of partition.”

Pauline Tully TD, former councillor Charlie Boylan who served as the late Kieran Doherty's election agent, and MEP Chris MacManus who spoke at the 40th commemoration event

She went on to say that people’s lives were being “ground down” by the search for a home to call their own, “by the fear of being sick and struggling to access treatments, toiling long hours and still barely keeping their heads above water, our youth facing uncertainty in their futures, rural communities being left behind.

“The level of inequality is startling. People want and deserve better. Rightly, they are fed-up of tainted politics that strangles our people’s potential.

“We know that partition is a root cause of such failures and Irish Republicans must be the catalyst that aims to break this stranglehold.”


Deputy Tully said the task of bringing about “real change” for workers and families, “of equality for all, is linked inextricably to the goal of uniting our country. Unity means positive change for everyone regardless of background. So not only is it achievable, it is necessary.

“Covid-19 and Brexit have made this apparent in the challenges they’ve raised. These challenges have reshaped and accelerated the ongoing conversation on Irish unity.

“Because now it is being discussed in every corner of our island. Many are coming to the conclusion that unity makes sense. That it’s the most sensible and viable option for this island. Irish unity’s time has come,” she concluded.

Mr Doherty is among those commemorated on the Irish Martyrs Memorial at Waverley Cemetery in Sydney, Australia. In October 2016, a painting of him was unveiled in Leinster House by Sinn Féin.