Bobby Sands remembered


by Francesca Ryan

Next Friday republicans across the world will pause to remember the sacrifice of Bobby Sands who died on hunger strike on May 5, 1981.

The legacy that Bobby left behind will never be forgotten and as the date approaches, the Colin ‘81 Committee are putting the final touches to a series of commemorative events to be held next weekend to mark the 25th anniversary of his death.

The 24th annual Bobby Sands Lecture is being held in the function room at the Devenish Complex next Friday (May 5) evening where Robert McBride, South African foreign affairs official and ANC activist, will deliver the lecture.
“We've come a long way since the first Bobby Sands Lecture in 1982," said Sam Baker, an organiser with the Colin ‘81 Committee.

“The first lecture was held in the Kilwee in Twinbrook which held a few hundred local people. Next Friday's event will be a national gathering attracting over one thousand people. We are honoured to have Robert McBride delivering the lecture, he is the first international speaker to do so.”

In previous years, the Bobby Sands Lecture has focused on various themes including collusion and the role of women in the struggle, however this year the lecture will focus on Bobby and how his and the other hunger strikers’ sacrifice affected other struggles around the world.

Michelle Gildernew, MP for the seat which Bobby held when he died, Fermanagh/South Tyrone, will chair the proceedings which commence at 8.30pm sharp.

On Saturday May 6, the Balmoral Hotel will host Talkback, a question and answer session focusing on the legacy of the hunger strikes and a vision of Ireland for the future.

Panelists will include John Finucane, Chris McGimpsey, Toireasa Ní Fhearaiosa and Alan McBride who lost relatives in the Shankill bomb of 1993.
“This is significant in that these people can share a panel together and talk about what the future holds,” said Sam.

“It's a sign that people are prepared to move things forward and look ahead to the future.”

The session is open to everyone, particularly young people aged between 18 and 25, and begins at 1pm.

On Sunday, May 7, Robert McBride will unveil a sculpted rock in Twinbrook dedicated to the hunger strikers.

“There will be a march from the Dairy Farm at 1pm to the site in Twinbrook.
“Following the unveiling of the rock, which can be seen from Bobby's house, Robert McBride and Raymond McCartney MLA will give speeches.”

The Colin area's first hurling team, the Bobby Sands Club, will play Dungiven's Kevin Lynch Club at Twinbrook pitches in the afternoon and the commemorations will wrap up with a function in the PD on Sunday night.

“The Colin ‘81 Committee has worked very hard to organise these events and activities and we'd like to thank everyone who put in the effort to help us mark the 25th anniversary of Bobby's death in the best way we could.”

Journalist:: Francesca Ryan


H-Blocks - Photography by Slainte

H Blocks of Long Kesh

A set of 89 photos on Flickr created by >>Slainte.
This set includes photos of Bobby Sands' hospital cell.

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Click on the above photo by Slainte to be taken to the site or click >>here.

Slainte also has collections of photographs concerning life in - and history of - the North which you can preview >>here. There are over 1500 photographs.

The Hunger Strike of 1981 - A Chronology of Main Events



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Monday 20 April 1981
Three Irish TDs (Teachta Dáil; Members of the Irish Parliament) together with Owen Carron, then Bobby Sands' election agent, paid a visit to the Maze Prison. Following a meeting with Sands the TDs called for urgent talks with the British government. [Margaret Thatcher, then British Prime Minister, announced on 21 April 1981 that the British government would not meet the TDs.]

Photo from Coiste: A Museum at Long Kesh or the Maze?

Tuesday 21 April 1981
Margaret Thatcher, then British Prime Minister, spoke to a press conference in Saudi Arabia and stated that the British government would not meet with Irish TDs (Teachta Dáil; Members of the Irish Parliament) to discuss the hunger strike. Thatcher went on to say: "We are not prepared to consider special category status for certain groups of people serving sentences for crime. Crime is crime is crime, it is not political."

Thursday 23 April 1981
Marcella Sands, the sister of Bobby Sands, made an application to the European Commission on Human Rights claiming that the British government had broken three articles of the European Convention on Human Rights in their treatment of Republican prisoners. [Two Commissioners tried to visit Bobby Sands on 25 April 1981 but are unable to do so because Sands requested the presence of representatives of Sinn Féin (SF). On 4 May 1981 the European Commission on Human Rights announced that it had no power to proceed with the Sands' case.]

Saturday 25 April 1981
Two Commissioners from the European Commission on Human Rights tried to visit Bobby Sands but are unable to do so because Sands requested the presence of representatives of Sinn Féin (SF). Sands had insisted that he would only meet the Commissioners if Brendan McFarlane, who had taken over as leader of the Irish Republican Army (IRA) in the Maze Prison, and Gerry Adams, then Vice-President of SF, and Danny Morrison, then editor of An Phoblacht, were also allowed to attend the meeting. [On 4 May 1981 the European Commission on Human Rights announced that it had no power to proceed with the Sands' case.]

Tuesday 28 April 1981
The private secretary of Pope John Paul II paid a visit to Bobby Sands in the Maze Prison but was unable to persuade him to end his hunger strike. Humphrey Atkins, then Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, stated that: "If Mr Sands persisted in his wish to commit suicide, that was his choice. The government would not force medical treatment upon him." In the United States of America (USA) Ronald Reagan, then President of the USA, said that America would not intervene in the situation in Northern Ireland but he was "deeply concerned" at events there.

Wednesday 29 April 1981
The private secretary of Pope John Paul II held talks with Humphrey Atkins, then Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, before paying another visit to Bobby Sands in the Maze Prison.

Monday 4 May 1981
The European Commission on Human Rights announced that it had no power to proceed with the case brought against the British government by Marcella Sands, the sister of Bobby Sands. [The case had been announced on 23 April 1981.]

Remembering Bobby Sands

Village Magazine

by Gerry Adams
** From Thursday, January 12, 2006

It was around this time in early January 1981 that Bobby Sands sent word to me that it was his intention to go on hunger strike. This was at least the second time he had expressed this intention. The first time was immediately after the first hunger strike ended in 1980. That was just before Christmas. At that time Bobby made it clear that he did not believe that the British Government would honour the commitments it had made in a paper presented to the political prisoners. However, after strenuous lobbying from taobh amuigh (outside), he agreed that the prisoners would do everything they could to avoid such a course of action. This meant that they would work with the prison administration to tease out all the outstanding matters which caused the five-year-old prison protests in the H Blocks of Long Kesh and the Women's Prison in Armagh.

Many Irish people of my age, especially those of us who were close to the prisoners or active in support of their demands, probably presume that everyone knows about the hunger strikes of 1981. We tend to ignore the fact that these events happened 25 years ago. So anyone nowadays aged 35 or younger would have only a vague recollection of that time and the awful summer of 1981 when ten men died on hunger strike inside a British prison outside Belfast, while almost 50 other people, including uninvolved civilians, prison officers, republicans and members of the British Crown forces died outside the prison. Among those who died were seven killed by plastic bullets, three of whom were children and one a 30-year-old mother. Hundreds more were seriously injured.

So what do people think about the hunger strikes and the hunger strikers? I have tried to analyse my own feelings many times. Even now, a quarter of a century later, my emotions are still raw. Why is this so? I know many people who died violently in the conflict. Some were close friends.

Most of them were young people. Their deaths were sudden and shocking. Three were relatives. Yet even though I still miss some of them deeply I never feel the same emotion about these deaths as I feel when I think about the men who died in the Blocks.

Perhaps this is because of the bond which grew between us on taobh amuigh and the people on the inside. Maybe it is because of the huge generosity, self-sacrifice and unselfishness of the hunger strikers. Maybe it's because all the other deaths were sudden, usually abrupt and part of a cycle of killings. The hunger strikes were public. In censored times, the prisoners cut through all the spin and disinformation. They put it up to us. Whether we supported the prisoners or not, we became part of the equation. We were forced to take sides with either Thatcher or the prisoners.

The hunger strike deaths polarised Irish society. It was also an indictment of our society and our political representatives, particularly the Irish government of that time, that almost 500 hundred prisoners were held in conditions described by the late Cardinal Tomás Ó Fiaich after a visit in August 1978 as "the nearest approach to it that I have ever seen was the spectacle of hundreds of homeless people living in the sewer pipes of the slums of Calcutta. The stench and the filth in some of the cells with the remains of rotten food and human excreta scattered around the walls was almost unbearable. The authorities refused to admit that these prisoners are in a different category from the ordinary, yet everything about their trials and family background indicates that they are different."

It is a measure of the maturity of the political prisoners that this happened after the conditions described by Cardinal Ó Fiaich had been endured for five years. These developments were created when the British Government, supported by Dublin, brought in legislation as part of its efforts to criminalise republicans. The securocrats' logic was simple. A struggle could not be depicted as mere wanton criminality, if there were political prisoners (as there were at that time, and I was one of them) who were afforded a special status. So the Mother of all Parliaments decreed that this status would end on 1 March I976. From that point, conflict with the prisoners was inevitable. It became a reality when the first republican prisoner to be sentenced after this date, Kieran Nugent, refused to wear the prison uniform. The rest, as they say, is history.

The first hunger strike, involving women in Armagh prison and men in the H Blocks, started in October 1980. It ended just before Christmas. There existed the basis for a settlement and there was a huge effort by the protesting prisoners to make this a reality. But Bobby was right. Elements within the British system saw the ending of the first hunger strike as a sign of weakness. They saw the prison as a breaker's yard for the republican struggle. Like others today, they had no interest in a settlement.

The second hunger strike started on 1 March 1981. Bobby Sands, then an MP, died on 5 May after 66 days without food. He was followed by Francie Hughes, 59 days; Patsy O Hara, 61 days; Raymond McCreesh, 61 days; Joe McDonnell, 61 days; Martin Hurson, 46 days; Kevin Lynch, 71 days; Kieran Doherty, then a TD, 73 days; Tom McElwee, 62 days; and Michael Devine, 60 days.

After the strike ended, the British Government moved to bring about the prisoners' five demands. The prisoners won, but at a terrible price. Meanwhile, British Government policy, devised by securocrats, had failed.

The hunger strikes were a watershed in modern Irish history. They are credited with accelerating the growth of Sinn Féin. They did much more than that. They helped to create the conditions which later gave birth to the peace process. For that reason, if for no other, at the beginning of another new year and yet another effort to advance the peace process, the events of that time should be studied and discussed by anyone interested in learning lessons of our past. But for the privileged few who knew the hunger strikers, for former Blanket men or Armagh women, for their families and for all of us who worked for the political prisoners, this 25th anniversary of the deaths of the H Block hunger strikers will be a personal as well as a political remembrance.



CAIN - Hunger Strike 1981 Chronology

Thursday 9 April 1981

Bobby Sands Elected to Westminster

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In the Fermanagh / South Tyrone by-election Bobby Sands, then on hunger strike in the Maze Prison, was elected (following the final count on 11 April 1981) as Member of Parliament for the constituency. The turnout for the contest was 86.9 per cent and Sands obtained 30,492 votes and Harry West, the Unionist candidate, obtained 29,046 votes. [The election had been followed by media organisations around the world and the outcome gave added impetus to the hunger strike campaign. The British government declared that the election would not change its position in regard to special category status. On 12 June 1981 the government published proposals to change the Representation of the People Act making it impossible for prisoners to stand as candidates for election to parliament.]



10 April 1981

Hunger striker elected MP

Imprisoned IRA hunger striker Bobby Sands has been elected to Westminster as the MP for Fermanagh and South Tyrone.

Bobby Sands is on hunger strike in the Maze Prison

Sands stood as a candidate of the "Anti-H Block" campaign - the section of the Maze prison in Belfast reserved for republicans and loyalists convicted of terrorist offences.

He won just over 52% of the vote in the Northern Ireland by-election compared to 49% for the candidate of the Official Unionist party, Harry West.

Sands' winning margin was 1,400 but over 3,000 ballot papers were spoiled.

Recriminations have already begun over his victory.

Unionist parties have come under fire for not mounting an effective challenge.

There has also been sharp criticism of the failure of the moderate Catholic Social Democratic and Labour Party to contest the seat.

"It is time Britain got out of Ireland."
Owen Carron
Bobby Sand's agent

Many believe the absence of an alternative Catholic candidate ensured victory for Sands in a seat with a Catholic majority.

Bobby Sands' election agent, Owen Carron, said the British Government had been sent a message.

"The nationalist people have voted against Unionism and against the H blocks.

"It is time Britain got out of Ireland and put an end to the torture of this country," he said.

Sands, 27, has served four years of a 14-year sentence for possessing firearms.

He began his hunger strike 41 days ago to press the republican prisoners' claim to be treated as prisoners of war.

The government must now decide how to respond to Bobby Sands' victory.

It could try to have him expelled on the grounds that he is an "unacceptable member".

However, unless he starts to eat again, Sands is not expected to live for more than another few weeks.

He has already lost two stone and is too weak to leave his bed in the prison's hospital wing.

In Context

Bobby Sand's victory was the second time the voters of Fermanagh and South Tyrone had elected a republican prisoner as their MP.

The first, Philip Clarke, in 1955, was disqualified because the law then did not allow convicts to take up political office.

In spite of attempts by the European Commission on Human Rights to mediate, Bobby Sands died on 5 May 1981.

He was the first of 10 republican prisoners to die after hunger strikes.

They attracted international media attention and sympathy for the republicans.

The hunger strikes came to an end in October 1981.

However, the Conservative Government of Margaret Thatcher granted the republicans only a few minor concessions.


Remembering 1981: Bobby Sands contests by-election

An Phoblacht

Eyes of world on Fermanagh/South Tyrone


Image Hosted by ImageShack.usOn the fifth day of the 1981 Hunger Strike, Frank Maguire, the MP for the constituency of Fermanagh/South Tyrone, died of a heart attack.

Over the following three weeks the number of candidates for the by-election fluctuated up and down with, at one stage, as many as seven candidates being mooted, and almost an eighth candidate when by mistake an over-enthusiastic member of Sinn Féin took out under her own name, a second set of nomination papers for Bobby Sands.

Noel Maguire, brother of Frank Maguire, was first to declare his candidature, and lodged nomination papers at the electoral offices in Dungannon on Wednesday the 25 March. Bernadette McAliskey had also declared herself as a runner on a Smash H-Block/Armagh and anti-repression ticket.

Former Ulster Unionist leader Harry West was elected as their candidate at a party convention, and UDR lieutenant Roy Kells, with the encouragement of Ian Paisley, was announced as being prepared to stand, but only as an 'agreed' loyalist candidate. And, as expected, an SDLP convention in Irvinestown ratified Austin Currie, who had previously attempted to wrest the seat from the late Frank Maguire in the bitterly contested May 1979 election.

Free Image Hosting at www.ImageShack.usThe 1979 election, contested without endorsement from the SDLP party executive, who correctly feared repercussions from splitting the nationalist vote, placed the local SDLP in a difficult position. They too were deeply divided over the wisdom of not just contesting the seat, but contesting it on an anti-IRA ticket, their fears being proven justified when Currie lost the election. (Click photo to view)

Currie's self serving attitude in 1979 forced the party leadership to temporarily remove him from his executive position, though he was by 1981 reinstated. It was the fear of being ostracised for good, should he do a repeat performance that forced Currie to swallow a bitter pill, when the party executive decided to overturn the local selection convention and not to contest the election.

The SDLP had mistakenly calculated that Noel Maguire was a definite runner and that between him and Bobby Sands, who by this stage had emerged as a definite candidate, that the nationalist vote against a single loyalist contender would be already split enough. The SDLP withdrew from the election, only to be dumbfounded when Noel Maguire also withdrew at the last minute and joined the broad-based backing for Bobby Sands, which included Tommy Murray (SDLP), Neil Blaney (Independent Euro-MP), Frank McManus (Irish Independence Party), and Bernadette McAliskey (National H-Block/Armagh Committee). Two members of the Irish Independence Party and the SDLP's Tommy Murray, signed Bobby Sands's nomination papers.

The confirmation that Sands would be a candidate had come from a Sinn Féin announcement on 26 March. Earlier that morning, Bernadette McAliskey had revealed that if a hunger-striker was to run then she would stand down in his favour and 'work the shirt off my back' for him.

The Sinn Féin statement said that Sands's candidature provided the electorate with the opportunity of quantifying their support for the political prisoners and against attempts to criminalise opposition to British rule. The statement made clear that under no circumstances, following Sands's election, would the seat be allowed to fall to the runner-up, in the event of a court action to dislodge him

Meanwhile Ian Paisley's attempts to push Harry West out of the running floundered when Paisley's choice, Roy Kells withdrew when he did not get the full support of the UUP. But Paisley continued to orchestrate a campaign against Harry West, which included personal visits and appeals from the widows of four UDR and RUC men. West, however, performed a minor coup, got photographed smiling with the widows, and stood his ground. Even a poster campaign against West, favouring the UDR lieutenant, with transport and manpower laid on by the UDR in the middle of the night, failed to change West's mind.

Bobby Sands's nomination papers were lodged by Jim Gibney and Owen Carron on the last possible day, Monday 30 March. Noel Maguire intended to withdraw just before the deadline, when it would be too late for Austin Currie to respond. As the 4pm deadline approached Gerry Adams and Owen Carron waited in a car beside the electoral office just in case Maguire failed to withdraw. In his pocket Gerry Adams carried a statement announcing Bobby Sands' withdrawal. With less than ten minutes to go Maguire arrived, went into the office and emerged with his nomination papers and called on his supporters to back Bobby Sands.

In a message to the electorate of Fermanagh/South Tyrone, their candidate Bobby Sands said that: "there is but a single issue at stake, the right of human dignity for Irish men and women who are imprisoned for taking part in this period of the historic struggle for Irish Independence."

He went on to say: "We are not elitist; we do not seek a different status to that afforded the ordinary prisoner because we supposedly frown upon them. Our protest and this hunger-strike are to secure from the British government an end to its policy of labelling us as criminals. This can be done by them conceding to us the same status that several hundred men in the cages of Long Kesh and three women in Armagh prison have. The eyes of this nation and many parts of the world will be on the people of Fermanagh and South Tyrone on polling day."

Key turning point in the struggle


Image Hosted by ImageShack.usI hid behind the wall of St. Patrick's Catholic Church, less than 200 yards from the front door of Dungannon's Electoral Office in Northland Row. From this safe distance I could watch, unobserved, the comings and goings at the Electoral Office. It was short of 2.30 in the afternoon, a warm day as I recall now, some 25 years later.

My inside jacket pocket held a little piece of paper, pregnant with historical change, of far reaching proportions for republicans. Of course at the time I was completely unaware of this. As I paced up and down the car park behind the Church I was more concerned not to be seen by anyone who would recognise me and be alerted to my intentions. The little piece of paper in my pocket was Bobby Sands' nomination papers to contest the by-election for Fermanagh/South Tyrone.

In Ballygawley Road housing estate, a few miles away, Gerry Adams was sitting by a phone. He was in communication with republicans in Lisnaskea, the home town of the recently deceased MP for the constituency, Frank Maguire. Gerry was also in communication with me, not I hasten to add by mobile phone, they were yet to be invented, but through Jimmy McGivern a local republican in his car.

Earlier Gerry had given me my instructions. They were simple enough. If by 3.50pm Noel Maguire, Frank's brother, had not withdrawn his nomination papers from the by-election then I was to withdraw Bobby's name from the contest. Four o'clock was the final deadline to withdraw papers. Three o'clock was the deadline for submitting a nomination. The leadership of Sinn Féin had decided Bobby Sands would not contest the election if there was another nationalist in the field.

At approximately 2.45pm the word from Gerry through Jimmy was that Noel Maguire was sighted in the company of a local republican in Lisnaskea shortly after 2pm. He had not been seen since then. The grapevine had it he had gone to ground. My heart sank with the news as I prepared myself to withdraw Bobby's papers.

Then another courier arrived at the car park with a more positive rumour. Noel Maguire was on his way to the Electoral Office with the local republican but no one knew for certain why.

Lisnaskea was a difficult hour's drive from Dungannon. We were all on edge. Would Noel make it to the Electoral Office before the deadline? Would he be stopped by the British Army at a checkpoint and delayed deliberately until after the deadline? Why was he coming at all if not to withdraw his name? Maybe he was just coming to tell the growing number of journalists outside the Electoral Office that he intended to stand?

I was not prepared to believe anything unless I saw it with my own eyes. Experience of the previous few weeks taught me that. It was packed with highs and lows as republicans grappled with what to do over the nomination of Bobby.

Image Hosted by ImageShack.usMy anxious wait ended well within the time set for withdrawing a nomination. The solitary figure of the white haired Noel Maguire ascended the steps outside the Electoral Office. It was obvious he had decided to pull out of the contest. In keeping with his gentle demeanour he announced in a soft voice to the waiting journalists that he was withdrawing from the by-election because he had been told it would help save Bobby's life. He could not have it on his conscience that any action of his would endanger another person's life.

Noel Maguire's gesture was not only magnanimous. It was a pivotal moment which shaped the future conduct of the republican struggle in a dramatic and unexpected way at the time. Had Noel stayed in the contest then Bobby Sands would not have been elected MP for Fermanagh/South Tyrone because I would have withdrawn his name from the election. And the year 1981 might not have been the year the struggle changed so dramatically.

Bobby's election rocked the Thatcher government and the Irish establishment. It also came as a huge surprise to many republicans with one very senior IRA man saying to me, as we watched the news of Bobby's win on television, that it was worth 20 bombs. It was a spectacular victory against all the odds. It gave the prison struggle, and the struggle generally, a much needed boost.

Following Bobby's election, Kieran Doherty and Paddy Agnew were elected TDs and other prisoner candidates did well across the 26 counties in that year's general election. The election of two prisoner candidates as TDs was also significant for another reason. It ended Fianna Fáil's reign as the dominant party in the south. They never again formed a government as a single party. That year also saw Owen Carron hold Bobby's seat with an increased majority in the by-election caused by Bobby's death.

In the middle of all that was happening and with Bobby's win in the bag, I argued internally for Sinn Féin to contest the May local government elections held less than a month after Bobby's success. Not surprisingly I lost the argument. Other organisations like People's Democracy (PD), the IRSP, the IIP and pro-prisoner candidates did stand. The SDLP lost many of their council seats to these candidates including that of their leader Gerry Fitt who was still a Westminster MP at the time. Thereafter the struggle opened up a new front: contesting elections.

The election successes of 1981 gave republicans the confidence they needed to take the leap into the unknown electoral arena. I was not there for the internal debate which followed 1981. I was off to jail for the next six years. I can imagine it would not have been an easy debate to win. Republicans were very suspicious of participating in any form of struggle which they suspected was out of step with pursuing the armed struggle. For many in the leadership and elsewhere participating in elections was controversial and to be done selectively.

I was at an Ard Fheis in 1980 and heard Sinn Féin President, Ruaraí Ó Brádaigh denounce those republicans from Tyrone who put a motion to the conference to contest local elections in the Six Counties. Republicans in the 26 Counties were already contesting local elections. He warned delegates that anyone advocating such a course of action would face expulsion.

Between that Ard Fheis and Bobby Sands' election there was a low level debate among some of the leadership of Sinn Féin about how best to build Sinn Féin into a popular political party and the role, if any, of participating in elections. The opposition to fighting elections was very strong. Indeed this was reflected in the extreme opposition among Fermanagh republicans to the proposal to stand Bobby.

I proposed standing Bobby in the by-election. It came to me in a flash on hearing the news on the radio of Frank Maguire's sudden death. I thought it was a not to be missed opportunity to highlight the Hunger Strike and the protest for political status. I was to learn very quickly that not all republicans were taken by the idea.

The opposition in Fermanagh centred on the traditional republican hostility to elections. They were seen as a dangerous distraction summed up in the view that even if Sinn Féin won every seat in the country the Brits still had to be forced out by arms. There was also a genuine concern for the fate of Bobby and his comrades. Failure to win the seat would strengthen Thatcher's main argument that the prisoners did not have popular support.

The opposition held out over several meetings against the combined persuasive powers of Ruaraí O Brádaigh, Daithí O Conaill, Gerry Adams and Owen Carron - all arguing to stand Bobby.

For republicans 1981 is, understandably so, one of the bleakest years of the conflict because of the deaths on hunger strike of the ten lads. It is also a seminal year in terms of opening up a new and challenging front, participating in elections. This led to other, equally important changes- taking seats in Leinster House and forcing republicans to build a serious party with a radical message.

It all started in earnest on 9 April, 25 years ago this Sunday, in Enniskillen's Technical College, when the Returning Officer, in a breaking voice announced to the world, 'Sands, Bobby, Anti H-Block/Armagh Political Prisoner, 30,492, West, Harry, Unionist, 29,046'. Bobby Sands was declared MP for Fermanagh/South Tyrone.


Ógra Shinn Féin Remember the Hungerstrikers - Falls Road


Monday April 03, 2006 22:41 by Ógra B - Ógra Shinn Féin
osf6county at yahoo dot com

On Wednesday 29th March Ógra held a demonstration on the Falls Road in Belfast to commemorate the 1981 Hungerstrikers. The event coincided with the departure of young people from all the nearby schools thus sparking interest in all those walking by who availed of the information leaflets handed out.

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Ógra Shinn Féin activists proudly hold Hungerstrike placards - click to view

Barry McColgan outlined "this event is one of many constantly taking place in remembrance of our ten brave martyrs - who remain a source of inspiration to young freedom loving people the world over.

"We will never forget the sacrifice of the hunger strikers and during this 25th anniversary we will be holding regular events of this nature in order to commemorate, remember and educate others of the 1981 hungerstrike."

He hailed the event as a success as "Many young people were asking questions and showing a genuine interest in learning more about this monumental period of our history.

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Ógra Shinn Féin logo showing lark of freedom - click to view

"25 years ago ten brave men gave their lives for freedom and many of the young people asking questions today, like myself, were not even born at the time of the 1981 hunger strike. So it is an encouraging sign to see them being so fascinated by the sacrifice of Bobby Sands and the hungerstrikers of 1981."

Please see www.osf.pro.ie

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