Remembering Bobby Sands

Today the Pensive Quill carries a guest post by the James Connolly Society on the anniversary of Bobby Sands.

Remembering Bobby Sands
James Connolly Society, Cill Íseal

Today, May 5th, is the 30th anniversary of the death of Bobby Sands. He will be eulogised by those in PSF who owe so much to the political and financial exploitation of his self-less sacrifice. One such piece by Danny Morrison is in today's Guardian.

But let us consider what Bobby Sands died for. His death was his ultimate act of resistance to Thatcher's criminalisation policy and the eventual result was de-facto political status for all political prisoners in the 6.

Those who gained most from the death of Bobby Sands were quick to ditch all those gains in the face of financial inducements from the British and this has produced a very interesting situation at the moment. Current political prisoners gaoled since the GFA are denied the rights gained by the hunger strikers as PSF signed them away. But this also applies to those gaoled for convictions predating the GFA.

The classic example of this is Gerry McGeough and there could well be more pending further HET cases. McGeough recently applied for compassionate parole to attend the first communion of his son. McGeough enlisted letters of support from the cardinal and bishop of Armagh but received this response from the NIO:

"Your habitual criminal behaviour does not instil confidence that you would refrain from further criminal activity if granted compassionate release at this time. The safety of the public is most important".

Gerry McGeough's convictions relate to 1981 and 1976 and he has an oft stated opposition to continued armed militancy therefore the 'habitual' and 'further' aspects of the statement are insulting to begin with.

The use of the term 'criminal', twice in the same sentence is telling too. Obviously Bobby Sands is still a criminal in the eyes of the establishment as McGeough's convictions stem from the same era. Ironically had McGeough been gaoled in 1981 he would have benefitted from the concessions gained by Sands.

McGeough's situtation, which will be mirrored by anyone else convicted in pre-GFA HET cases highlight the self-serving hypocrisy of those who will be making statements about Bobby Sands today and using him to confer legitimacy upon their actions. The same people who continue to exploit him more now in death than in life and market his image for financial gain despite the wishes of his family.


  1. I believe that The Bobby Sands Trust is in the hands of Sinn Fein.
    Is this the trust that controls the profits from Bobby'e writings etc.?
    If so, then it is a nice little earner!

  2. It is indeed and the family of Bobby Sands have spoken out against it.

    "We came to look closer at the Trust and in turn were concerned at the lack of control or accountability", said one family source. "There were no records of minutes etc. or proper accounts and it was debatable if they ever functioned as a Trust but rather as an extension of SF. It has been claimed that Marcella was a member of the Trust for instance yet she was never informed of meetings or for that matter who the other members were".

  3. That is worrying.
    What a shame that some sort of a SF slush fund is profiting from Bobby's work.
    It certainly seems a betrayal of Bobby by SF.
    Why am I not surprised!

  4. "They will not criminalise us, rob us of our true identity, steal our individualism, depoliticise us, churn us out as systemised, institutionalised, decent law-abiding robots. Never will they label our liberation struggle as criminal."

    Bobby Sands.

    This is one quote of Bobbys that we never see the Shinners using.

    "After the hunger strike, the British government recognised the political status of the prisoners and eventually granted their early release under the 1998 Good Friday agreement. Had such an agreement been signed back in 1969, not one of the thousands who died in the conflict would have lost their lives."

    Danny Morrison.

    What Danny forgets is that there was such an agreement, in fact it differed only in wordage from the GFA. And that 1973 agreement was called Sunningdale.

    Danny is no fool he knows that, however there are many who don't; in particular the blind fools who follow PSF.

    However, worse by far than the blind fools are those who aren't so blind, in particular Bobby's former comrades and Blanket Men; even former Hunger Strikers who peddle what they know to be lies to the rest.
    Those I prefer to call Adamsites rather than Republicans.

    Danny hails PSF's position today as a success and all down to the sacrifices of Bobby and his nine comrades according to him. Would those men have died on Hunger Strike to see PSF replace the SDLP or become the largest party in the North?

    And doing what I might ask? Passing on Tory cuts?
    Yes Margaret Thatcher's Tory party. PSF are now working as rent collector's for the absentee Tory landlords.

    Hardly a success is it? And it's hardly worth dying for either so that politicians we once saw as leaders now set about rebuilding the Northern statelet we fought so hard to bring down.

    Leaving Adamsism aside, look at the state of present day Republicanism. It is fractured into a half dozen or so pieces which can't unite itself never mind our people.

    Some of these groups think they can re-ignite something which has completely burnt out, armed struggle. There will be no more Battle of the Bogsides or burning Bombay streets or Bloody Sundays, the Brits have grown too wise for that. However there is the potential for another Omagh or Bloody Friday which if it happens, even on a smaller scale, will fling us back to the early sixties and the end of the Border Campaign.

    There is something which can revive Republicanism and that is the people's need for real leadership during the present economic situation on both sides of the border.
    PSF have benefited from it in the South but they will eventually become as bad as those they hope to replace, given half the chance.

    This won't get better, it'll get worse and while an armed campaign continues the Shinners and their ilk can use it as a smokescreen to hide their part in it.

    Republicans need to look at the bigger picture and rebuild for the future. We need to educate our youth not turn them into another wasted generation, many of whom will spend long years in jail or worse.

    We need most of all to ensure that they are not so blind they can't see where they are being led.

    If we want to ensure that 10 lives weren't wasted in Long Kesh 30 years ago, then we must ensure that no more young lives are wasted by trying to go back to the past.

    We need to find a way forward that works today and most importantly that will gain the support of the people in the future.

  5. They make a nice little earner even out of Bobby's funeral photographs (1 print for £17, I think)!

  6. Easy to lie on another man's wound!

  7. The prison situation continues to be a blemish on the 'big picture.'
    Irrespective of the spin Sinn Fein are putting on the prison issue, it still provides a quandry.
    They only way the Provisional movement can reconcile themselves with what is happening in the gaol is to reframe the issue the way they reframed the struggle.
    They speak about, context, human rights, equality and legalities.
    They fob and dodge the real issues, however they can't shake it off, it still serves as a harrowing reminder.

  8. Dixie,

    Bangers’ logic has always struggled to reconcile the irreconcilable. I sense he knows it was a serious defeat but has signed up to it and defends it when called upon. But some of the arguments he puts forward simply fail to make the grade. Everything new he says stands in direct contradiction to what he earlier said. It is one of the problems for a writer – commit yourself to print and there is always an anchor to haul you back. Honest analysts will deal with it directly while the frauds will try to suppress anyone highlighting their inconsistencies.

    As for those former Blanketmen I too wonder what they say to themselves at 4 in the morning when they wake out of a sleep and know exactly what they have done. Everyday on the blanket now negated as they stand shoulder to shoulder with the British state and the screws. If it is what they now genuinely believe, ok, but they should stop pretending that there is no discrepancy between their stance of yesteryear and that of today.

    ‘Would those men have died on Hunger Strike to see PSF replace the SDLP or become the largest party in the North?’

    I know of not one volunteer who died during the armed struggle wanting that outcome. If they did whydid they leav no trace of it? No one has left a letter that we know of or a public comment that they were fighting the war for a cross border dimension.

    As for much of present day republicanism, I listen to the arguments, the sheer illogicality of its position, its contempt for the people of Ireland, the sharp resemblance it bears to a religious cult – I can’t relate to it at all.

    I have thought for some time that republicanism has died. It failed to be the answer to partition.