|The Hunger Strikes
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|Hunger Strikes, 1980/81 Bobby Sands
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Issued by Peoples’ Democracy in 1981 in the wake of the death of Bobby Sands it is a short clearly rapidly produced typewritten leaflet some five pages long. This perhaps gives some sense of the rapid pace of events during the hunger strikes and the need for political formations to respond to them likewise.
On the cover under a hand-drawn image of Sands it calls for the withdrawal of ‘anti-unionist councillors from the northern councils’, the expulsion of the British ambassador and ‘Break[ing]’ the Haughey/Thatcher talks. Inside there are pieces on ‘Imperialism Murders Bobby Sands – How Did it Happen?’ and ‘British Labour’s Shame’ as well as a short article challenging Paddy Devlin. There is also a piece on ‘How We Can Win’.
But it is the editorial that distils the essence of the bulletin.
Responsibility for the death of Bobby Sands M.P. rests entirely with the British Government. The cruel intransigence of Thatcher and Atkins, their rejection of national and international opinion represents a calculated insult to the whole of the Irish people and demonstrates the racist contempt in which the British ruling class holds the people of this country.
In extending our sorrowing condolence to the family and comrades of Bobby Sands, Peoples Democracy wishes to assure them of the fact that they do not mourn alone; the people of Ireland and a lll those who have known oppression by an imperial power are with them in this dark hour.
It considers the way forward:
In the immediate days ahead we must turn our efforts towards saving the lives of the other hunger strikers who are continuing with courage the fight for the five demand. There is not a single responsible voice that denies the justice of these demand.
Again it reiterates the demands outlined on the front of the document:
The unity of the Irish people which we began to build during the last few months must now be completed. Fianna Fail and the SDLP must bow to the demand of the nationalist people of Ireland. The British ambassador must be sent home. All talks with the British government must be ended. All representatives of the nationalist people must withdraw from British government institutions.
And it stresses the peaceful nature of protest:
Britain’s murder of Bobby Sands represents a declaration of war against the Irish people. We must respond to this in a united and disciplined manner. Our strategy must be that of mass peaceful protests and, most importantly, industrial action against British firms and products.
A genuinely important addition to the Archive.