IRELAND - The diary of Bobby Sands

December 12, 2019

On March First in 1981 the IRA fighter Bobby Sands went on hunger strike against the criminalization of the struggle for national liberation and socialism. He was in prison in Long Kesh, one prison with special blocks for the political prisoners, left without any rights, under terrible conditions. It was the 2nd hunger strike, under the terroristic government of Margaret Thatcher. After 66 days of hunger strike Bobby Sands, and nine other prisoners which were on hunger strike, died and caused great sensation. More than 100.000 people attended the funeral of Bobby Sands in Belfast.

 

Bobby Sands kept a diary of the days of his hunger strike. In occasion of the campaign to support the republican prisoners in Ireland (Support the Republican Prisoners!) we share three entries of Bobby Sands, one great hero of the Irish struggle for national liberation and socialism!

 

 

 

Day 1

Sunday 1st

I am standing on the threshold of another trembling world. May God have mercy on my soul.

My heart is very sore because I know that I have broken my poor mother’s heart, and my home is struck with unbearable anxiety. But I have considered all the arguments and tried every means to avoid what has become the unavoidable: it has been forced upon me and my comrades by four-and-a-half years of stark inhumanity.

I am a political prisoner. I am a political prisoner because I am a casualty of a perennial war that is being fought between the oppressed Irish people and an alien, oppressive, unwanted regime that refuses to withdraw from our land.

I believe and stand by the God-given right of the Irish nation to sovereign independence, and the right of any Irishman or woman to assert this right in armed revolution. That is why I am incarcerated, naked and tortured.
Foremost in my tortured mind is the thought that there can never be peace in Ireland until the foreign, oppressive British presence is removed, leaving all the Irish people as a unit to control their own affairs and determine their own destinies as a sovereign people, free in mind and body, separate and distinct physically, culturally and economically.

I believe I am but another of those wretched Irishmen born of a risen generation with a deeply rooted and unquenchable desire for freedom. I am dying not just to attempt to end the barbarity of H-Block, or to gain the rightful recognition of a political prisoner, but primarily because what is lost in here is lost for the Republic and those wretched oppressed whom I am deeply proud to know as the ‘risen people’.

There is no sensation today, no novelty that October 27th brought. (The starting date of the original seven man hunger-strike) The usual Screws were not working. The slobbers and would-be despots no doubt will be back again tomorrow, bright and early.

I wrote some more notes to the girls in Armagh today. There is so much I would like to say about them, about their courage, determination and unquenchable spirit of resistance. They are to be what Countess Markievicz, Anne Devlin, Mary Ann McCracken, Marie MacSwiney, Betsy Gray, and those other Irish heroines are to us all. And, of course, I think of Ann Parker, Laura Crawford, Rosemary Bleakeley, and I’m ashamed to say I cannot remember all their sacred names.

Mass was solemn, the lads as ever brilliant. I ate the statutory weekly bit of fruit last night. As fate had it, it was an orange, and the final irony, it was bitter. The food is being left at the door. My portions, as expected, are quite larger than usual, or those which my cell-mate Malachy is getting.

 

 

Day 2

Monday 2nd
Much to the distaste of the Screws we ended the no-wash protest this morning. We moved to ‘B’ wing, which was allegedly clean.
We have shown considerable tolerance today. Men are being searched coming back from the toilet. At one point men were waiting three hours to get out to the toilet, and only four or five got washed, which typifies the eagerness (sic) of the Screws to have us off the no-wash. There is a lot of petty vindictiveness from them.
I saw the doctor and I’m 64 kgs. I’ve no problems.
The priest, Fr John Murphy, was in tonight. We had a short talk. I heard that my mother spoke at a parade in Belfast yesterday and that Marcella cried. It gave me heart. I’m not worried about the numbers of the crowds. I was very annoyed last night when I heard Bishop Daly’s statement (issued on Sunday, condemning the hunger-strike). Again he is applying his double set of moral standards. He seems to forget that the people who murdered those innocent Irishmen on Derry’s Bloody Sunday are still as ever among us; and he knows perhaps better than anyone what has and is taking place in H-Block.
He understands why men are being tortured here — the reason for criminalisation. What makes it so disgusting, I believe, is that he agrees with that underlying reason. Only once has he spoken out, of the beatings and inhumanity that are commonplace in H-Block.
I once read an editorial, in late ’78, following the then Archbishop O Fiaich’s ‘sewer pipes of Calcutta’ statement. It said it was to the everlasting shame of the Irish people that the archbishop had to, and I paraphrase, stir the moral conscience of the people on the H-Block issue. A lot of time has passed since then, a lot of torture, in fact the following year was the worst we experienced.
Now I wonder who will stir the Cardinal’s moral conscience…
Bear witness to both right and wrong, stand up and speak out. But don’t we know that what has to be said is ‘political’, and it’s not that these people don’t want to become involved in politics, it’s simply that their politics are different, that is, British.
My dear friend Tomboy’s father died today. I was terribly annoyed, and it has upset me.
I received several notes from my family and friends. I have only read the one from my mother — it was what I needed. She has regained her fighting spirit — I am happy now.
My old friend Seanna (Walsh, a fellow blanket man) has also written.
I have an idea for a poem, perhaps tomorrow I will try to put it together.
Every time I feel down I think of Armagh, and James Connolly. They can never take those thoughts away from me.

 

 

 

Day 3

Tuesday 3rd
I’m feeling exceptionally well today. (It’s only the third day, I know, but all the same I’m feeling great.) I had a visit this morning with two reporters, David Beresford of The Guardian and Brendan O Cathaoir of The Irish Times. Couldn’t quite get my flow of thoughts together. I could have said more in a better fashion.
63 kgs today, so what?
A priest was in. Feel he’s weighing me up psychologically for a later date. If I’m wrong I’m sorry — but I think he is. So I tried to defuse any notion of that tonight. I think he may have taken the point. But whether he accepts it, will be seen. He could not defend my onslaught on Bishop Daly — or at least he did not try.
I wrote some notes to my mother and to Mary Doyle in Armagh; and will write more tomorrow. The boys are now all washed. But I didn’t get washed today. They were still trying to get men their first wash.
I smoked some ‘bog-rolled blows’ today, the luxury of the Block!
They put a table in my cell and are now placing my food on it in front of my eyes. I honestly couldn’t give a damn if they placed it on my knee. They still keep asking me silly questions like, ‘Are you still not eating?’
I never got started on my poem today, but I’ll maybe do it tomorrow. The trouble is I now have more ideas.
Got papers and a book today. The book was Kipling’s Short Stories with an introduction of some length by W. Somerset Maugham. I took an instant dislike to the latter on reading his comment on the Irish people during Kipling’s prime as a writer: ‘It is true that the Irish were making a nuisance of themselves.’ Damned too bad, I thought, and bigger the pity it wasn’t a bigger nuisance! Kipling I know of, and his Ulster connection. I’ll read his stories tomorrow.
Ag rá an phaidrín faoi dhó achan lá atá na buachaillí anois. Níl aon rud eile agam anocht. Sin sin. (Translated this reads as follows: The boys are now saying the rosary twice every day. I have nothing else tonight. That’s all.)

 

 

[Source: https://antiimperialistactionireland2018.wordpress.com/latest-news/ , published in March 2018]

 

 

 

 

 

 

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