Wednesday, March 01, 2006


Today in History - Bobby Sands begins Hunger Strike

God Bless himIt was on this day, 1st of March, 1981, that Bobby Sands began his hunger strike at Long Kesh prison.

As I've remarked before on United Irelander, 2006 is a year of commemoration in this country. There is the 90th anniversary of the Easter Rising as well as the 90th anniversary of the Battle of the Sommes but as well as that, 2006 is significant as it is the 25th anniversary of the Hunger Strikes.

There has been alot of talk here in Ireland about how the Easter Rising will prove difficult for many people seeing as it's a controversial point in history. I must confess that I have no such difficulty in judging the Easter Rising as I am absolutely convinced it was the right course of action and I personally think the Rising can be justified.

The Hunger Strikes however are an event in our history that I must admit I have difficulty in judging. The reason I have difficulty in forming a concrete opinion on the Hunger Strikes is that they don't fit in easily with the general view of the Provisional IRA. Like most Irish people I oppose the campaign that the Provos waged during The Troubles. I can understand to an extent how and why it came about but I cannot support what I regard as criminal and terrorist acts.

However, I would struggle to brand Bobby Sands either a criminal or a terrorist. Here is a man who made the supreme sacrifice by laying down his life for his beliefs. I cannot help but respect that. I think Margaret Thatcher was heartless when she was British Prime Minister and I think that she should have certainly handled events during The Troubles alot better than she did. Those men didn't have to die.

Another reason the Hunger Strikes are such an emotive issue is due to the path Sinn Féin have travelled these past 25 years. If the Hunger Strikers, including Bobby Sands, could have known the path the party would eventually traverse, would they have done what they did in 1981? I'm not sure they would have which makes this a very difficult issue to deal with.

I'm sure the Hunger Strikes will be debated quite a bit this year but for now I'd simply like to take the time to pay tribute to Bobby Sands and to pay tribute to the bravery he showed 25 years ago. I have been looking over some of his poems which he wrote in prison and with it being the 1st day of March and with Ireland experiencing some unusually cold weather at this time of year, the following poem spoke to me and I felt it was an apt time to highlight it. It is called 'Weeping Winds'...


Oh! cold March winds your cruel laments
Are hard on prisoners’ hearts,
For you bring my mother’s pleading cries
From whom I have to part.
I hear her weeping lonely sobs
Her sorrows sweep me by,
And in the dark of prison cell
A tear has warmed my eye.

Oh! whistling winds why do you weep
When roaming free you are,
Oh! is it that your poor heart’s broke
And scattered off afar?
Or is it that you bear the cries
Of people born unfree,
Who like your way have no control
Or sovereign destiny?

Oh! lonely winds that walk the night
To haunt the sinner’s soul,
Pray pity me a wretched lad
Who never will grow old.
Pray pity those who lie in pain
The bondsman and the slave,
And whisper sweet the breath of God
Upon my humble grave.

Oh! cold March winds that pierce the dark
You cry in aged tones
For souls of folk you’ve brought to God
But still you bear the moans.
Oh! weeping wind this lonely night
My mother’s heart is sore
Oh! Lord of all breathe freedom’s breath
That she may weep no more.



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