Brendan ‘Darkie’ Hughes- a man of principle (1948-2008)
Brendan ”Darkie” Hughes a legendary guerilla leader in the fight for Irish freedom fighter died in Belfast on Saturday at Feb 16. He was codenamed ‘The Dark’ due to his complexion, daring, and fearless actions in the struggle to free Ireland. Time and time again, Brendan demonstrated to his generation that there were more ways that one to take on the British military occupation of Ireland. His legendary feats included a bold escape from Long Kesh concentration Camp. While on the run, he continued to organize against the British foe.
Brendan, or the ‘DARK’, as he was often referred to, was spoken of with pride and reverence within the Republican Movement. His bravery, leadership and character was admired and respected. However, it was while imprisoned that he took on his most difficult role. Brendan became the O/C of Republican prisoners and set about to stand against British attempts to criminalize Irish Republican Political prisoners. By doing so, he undertook a hunger strike for political status that lasted for 53 days during which he was brutally treated.
At the core of the planning for each of the hunger strikes, the dirty protest, and the Blanket protest, Brendan could be found.. His involvement included the selection of each of the men who were prepared to go on hunger strike and possibly die for the cause they cherished. Brendan experienced tremendous emotional stress upon the death of each of his ten comrades during the1981 hunger strike.
In later years, he often would ask whether it was worth it ? Only until recently was it realized that, while he was involved with Bobby Sands and other republicans in the run up to the1981 hunger strike, other sinister elements within the republican movement were manipulating those tragic events for their own long range selfish ends.
So highly regarded by those within the republicanism, that when he saw through the British arranged Peace Process as a sell out of the Republican ideals, he met his greatest threat from his erstwhile comrades. In retrospect, one must wonder what thirty pieces of silver was on offered to Brendan Hughes to attempt to have him sellout his republican ideals. Considering the enormity of the rewards of upscale properties and bulging bank accounts that was lavished upon others to betray the noble ideals of Wolfe Tone, we see that once again Brendan rose to the occasion. Brendan stood tall and would not compromise the Republic.
Sadly, even Brendan’s death was seized upon as an opportunity for a headline by the traitorous British puppets that attempted to damn him with faint praise. However, the words of Terence McSweeny ring as true today as they did eighty plus years ago. “In matters of principal there can be no compromise.”