Sixty years ago next Sunday, 9th March, Bobby Sands was born in Rathcoole on the outskirts of North Belfast. Bobby died on hunger strike on 5th May, 1981, at the age of 27, followed by nine more comrades: Francis Hughes, Raymond McCreesh, Patsy O’Hara, Joe McDonnell, Martin Hurson, Kevin Lynch, Kieran Doherty TD, Thomas McElwee and Mickey Devine.
Around the world the name of Bobby Sands has become synonymous with the struggle of the weak against the strong, the oppressed against the oppressor, and his and his comrades’ example have been taken up by many other political prisoners from India to Palestine to Kurdistan.
Today’s Guardian newspaper publishes in its Reel History series an analysis of Steve McQueen’s breakthrough film, Hunger, loosely based on Bobby Sands’ last days. That films numerous awards include: the prestigious Caméra d’Or at Cannes in 2008; Gucci Group Award – Mostra del Cinema di Venezia 2008; Discovery Award – Toronto International Film Festival 2008; the Sydney Film Prize; best picture from the Evening Standard British Film Awards, receiving two BAFTA nominations, winning one; and winning six out of eight awards at the 2009 Irish Film and Television Awards.
At the time of Nelson Mandela’s death, Russia Today, compared the ANC leader with Bobby Sands. Last October a translation of Bobby Sands’ diary won the Italian Cultural Association LETTERATURE DAL FRONTE (Cassino) prize.
And so it continues – the memory of our comrade, who would have turned sixty years of age this week, his and his comrades’ sacrifices and influence reverberate to this very day!
Here is a link to a tribute to Bobby Sands by his comrade, former blanket man Colm Scullion, which was recorded two years ago.