Remembering Martin Hurson - 1981 Hunger Strike
Martin Hurson, from Cappagh, County Tyrone, was born on September 13th 1956 one of nine children born to Johnny and Mary Ann Hurson.
Martin was particularly close to his mother, whose premature death in 1970 when he was only thirteen, came as a profound shock to him.
Martin was educated to a primary level at Crosscavanagh Primary School in Galbally and secondary level in St. Patrick's, Dungannon.
After leaving school, he worked as a welder for a while before going to England, where he stayed for eighteen months with his brother Francis and worked in the building trade.
Returning to County Tyrone at the end of 1974, both he and his brother spent time in Bundoran, County Donegal.
That part of Tyrone in the early 70s saw much Republican activity against the crown forces, and the RUC in that area were determined to seek revenge.
Martin was arrested and taken to Omagh RUC barracks on November 11th, 1976, along with the six others arrested that day and two days previously.
He was severely, and professionally tortured in Omagh for two days, beaten about the head, back and testicles, spread-eagled against a wall and across a table, slapped, punched and kicked. He heard Rafferty's screams as he was tortured in the adjoining room.
To escape the torture, Martin signed statements admitting involvement in republican activity. He received concurrent sentences of twenty, fifteen and five years for these convictions.
Martin was sent to Long Kesh where he immediately joined the blanket protest and got engaged to his long term girlfriend, Bernadette Donnelly.
On May 28th 1981 Martin joined the Hunger Strike, replacing Brendan McLaughlin who withdrew following a perforated stomach ulcer.
While on hunger strike Martin was a candidate at the 1981 Irish general election in the Longford–Westmeath constituency where he obtained 4,573 (10.1%) first preference votes.
He lost the ability to hold down water after around 40 days on hunger strike and died of dehydration at 4:30 am on July 13th 1981 after only 46 days on the strike; he was 24 years of age.