Remembering Michael “Micky” Devine
Michael James Devine was born on May 26th 1954 in the Springtown camp, on the outskirts of Derry city, which was a former American army base from the Second World War.
In 1960, when Micky was six years of age, the Devine family including his grandmother, sister Margaret and parents Patrick and Elizabeth, moved to the then newly built Creggan estate to the north of Derry city centre.
Micky went to Holy Child primary school in Creggan and then at the age of eleven Micky started at St. Joseph’s secondary school in Creggan, which he was to attend until he was fifteen.
In February 1966, his father, who was only in his forties, died of leukaemia, Micky had been very close to his father and his premature death left Micky heartbroken.
Micky became politically active during the civil rights campaign with the Labour Party and the Young Socialists, after the British army had turned on the Nationalist people, Mickey decided to join the official IRA.
Bloody Sunday in January 1972 had a significant impact on Micky, he believed it was time to fight back, but the official movement called a ceasefire in 1972 which Micky and many of his comrades in Derry City strongly disagreed with that decision.
In September 1972 his mother had died of a brain tumour, totally unexpectedly, at the age of forty-five. Micky, then aged eighteen, suffered a tremendous shock from this blow, and it took him many months to come to terms with his grief.
Towards the end of 1973, Micky got married. His wife, Margaret, was only seventeen. They lived in Ranmore Drive in Creggan and had two children Michael and Louise.
In 1974 Mickey decided to join the IRSP, he then helped found the Irish National Liberation Army (INLA) in 1975.
In the evening of September 20th, 1976, Micky was arrested in the Creggan after an arms raid earlier that day on a private weaponry, in Lifford, County Donegal, from which the INLA commandeered several rifles and shotguns, and three thousand rounds of ammunition.
Micky was held and interrogated for three days in Derry’s Strand Road barracks, before being transported in Crumlin Road Gaol in Belfast where he spent nine months on remand.
Micky was sentenced to twelve years imprisonment on June 20th, 1977, and sent to Long Kesh where he immediately embarked on the blanket protest.
On Sunday, June 21st, 1981, he completed his fourth year on the blanket, and the following day he joined Joe McDonnell, Kieran Doherty, Kevin Lynch, Martin Hurson, Thomas McElwee and Paddy Quinn on hunger strike.
Micky died at 7.50 am on Thursday, August 20th 1981 after 60 days on hunger strike, he was the tenth and last of the hunger strikers to die in 1981.