Bobby Sands 


Robert Gerard "Bobby" Sands was born on March the 9th of March 1954 in Rathcoole, a predominantly Loyalist district of North Belfast. At the age of ten Bobby and his family which consisted of Bobby, his siblings Bernadette, Marcella and John and his parents John and Rosaleen were forced to move due to Loyalist intimidation. At the age of sixteen Bobby started an apprenticeship as a Coach builder and joined the national union of vehicle builders and the ATGWU. After two years serving his apprenticeship Bobby was forced out of his job due to Intimidation and death threats. 


In 1972 Bobby and his family were intimidated out of their home in Doonbeg drive, Rathcoole and moved into the newly built Twinbrook estate on the edge of West Belfast. It was at this time Bobby joined the Provisional IRA.  Later that year he was arrested. Four handguns were found in a house he was staying in and he was charged with possession. He spent the next three years in Long Kesh. Bobby used this time to learn Irish. 


Bobby was released in 1976 and returned to Twinbrook where he reported back to his IRA unit. Bobby became a community activist and began tackling social issues. Within six months he was arrested again. There was a Bomb attack on the Balmoral furniture company at Dunmurry followed by a gun battle in which two men were wounded. Bobby and three other men were in a car near the scene. The RUC captured them and found a revolver in the car. The men were taken to Castlereagh Interrogation centre where they were tortured and subjected to brutal interrogations. Bobby was held on remand for 11 months until his trial in September 1977. Like his previous trial he refused to recognise the court. The Judge admitted there was no evidence to link Bobby or the other men to the bombing, they were sentenced to fourteen years each for possession of the one revolver. 


Bobby spent the first twenty two days of his sentence in solitary confinement in Crumlin Road Gaol. For fifteen of those he was naked. He was moved to the H-Block's and Joined the blanket protest which was a protest against the criminalisation of Irish Republican Prisoners by the British government who in 1976 began to phase out "special category status". 


In Gaol Bobby started writing articles and several letters for An Phoblacht an Irish Republican newspaper at the time using the pseudonym "Marcella" (his sisters name). Bobby was a poet. Some of his best known poems include weeping winds and the rhythm of time. He also wrote the lyrics of Back home in Derry, Mcilhatton and Sad song for Susan. 


In 1980 a hunger strike took place in Long kesh and Armagh Gaols. Bobby became O/C in Long Kesh replacing Brendan Hughes. The hunger strike was eventually called off but it soon became clear the British government reneged on their promises. 
On March 1st 1981 Bobby led a second hunger strike. Bobby knew the significance of this hunger strike and realised he would on the balance of probabilities have to die to win political status. He insisted on starting two weeks before everyone else so that his death might save his comrades and secure the five demands. 


1. The right to not wear a prison uniform.

2. The right not to do prison work.

3.The right of free association with others.

4. The right to organise their own educational and recreational facilities.

5. The right to one visit, one letter, and one parcel per week. 


During the first 17 days of his hunger strike Bobby kept a diary. He lost sixteen pounds weight in this time, he was transferred to the prison hospital on March 23rd. 


On March 30th he was named as candidate for the Fermanagh and South Tyrone by-election after the sudden death of independent MP Frank Maguire. In a message to the electorate Bobby stated " There is a 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." Anti H-Block Political Prisoner Bobby Sands Secured 30,493 votes and won the election. 


On May 5th 1981 after 66 days on hunger strike Bobby Sands died in the H-Block prison hospital at Long Kesh. 
" I was only a Working Class boy from a nationalist ghetto, but it is repression that creates the revolutionary spirit of freedom. I shall not settle until then I achieve the liberation of my Country, until Ireland becomes a sovereign, Independent Socialist Republic."

32csm_org.png