12/21/2008

Bobby Sands MP

I see that Education Minister Caitríona Ruane has been reported to the police for telling children that Bobby Sands was "a local hero".


Caitríona was speaking at a prize-giving ceremony at St Colm's High School in Twinbrook last week.

What's the problem here? I can't see how telling the truth can be a criminal offence.

Bobby Sands was from Twinbrook and the people there are quite rightly proud of him, as are a great many more in Ireland and around the world.

Bobby joined a pantheon of Republican Martyrs like McSweeney and Ashe when he invoked that ancient Brehon legal convention, Hunger Strike.

He laid down his life for his friends, comrades and the struggle in general. He did this out of love, love of his country, her people and her future.

Just as a bit of perspective we can view how Bobby was and is viewed around the world.

The Global Reaction

Europe

In Rome, the President of the Italian Senate did what the Brit Speaker couldn't bring himself to do by expressing the Italian government's sympathies to the Sands' family.

In Milan, 5,000 students burned the Union Flag and shouted "Freedom for Ulster" during a march.

In Ghent, students invaded the British Consulate.

In Paris, thousands marched behind huge portraits of Sands, to chants of 'The IRA will conquer'.

In France, many towns and cities have streets named after Sands. Examples include Nantes, St Etienne, Le Mans Vierzon and St Denis.

In Oslo, demonstrators threw a balloon filled with tomato sauce at Elizabeth Windsor, Head of the British Crown Forces.

In Spain, the Ya newspaper said Bobby's death was "an act of heroism."

In Poland's Lech Walesa paid tribute, "Bobby Sands was a great man who sacrificed his life for his struggle."

Soviet Union

Pravda described it as 'another tragic page in the grim chronicle of oppression, discrimination, terror and violence' in Ireland.

In Liverpool a march in support of Sands took place from Upper Parliament Street to the Pier Head, chanting "Bobby Sands MP".

USA

The US Congress and state and local governments passed resolutions honouring Bobby's sacrifice and sent letters of condolence. The New Jersey state legislature noted his "courage and convictions”

The International Longshoremen's Association in New York announced a twenty-four-hour boycott of British ships.

Over 1,000 people gathered in New York's St. Patrick's Cathedral to hear Cardinal Terence Cooke offer a Mass of reconciliation for Northern Ireland. Irish bars in the city were closed for two hours in mourning.

In Hartford, Connecticut a memorial was dedicated to Bobby Sands and the other Hunger Strikers in 1997, Set up by the Irish Northern Aid Committee and local Irish-Americans, it stands in a traffic circle known as "Bobby Sands Circle," at the bottom of Maple Avenue near Goodwin Park.

Cuba

In 2001, a memorial to Sands and the other hunger strikers was unveiled in Havana,

Africa

The ANC not only sent representatives to the funeral but Nelson Mandela sent a personal message from his prison cell.

Asia

In Tehran, Iran, President Bani-Sadr sent a message of condolence to the Sands family and also sent a representative to the funeral. An official blue and white street sign was affixed to the rear wall of the British embassy compound saying (in Persian) "Bobby Sands Street" with three words of explanation "militant Irish guerrilla".

The official Pars news agency called Bobby Sands' death "heroic".

The Hindustan Times said Margaret Thatcher had allowed a fellow Member of Parliament to die of starvation, an incident which had never before occurred "in a civilised country."

In the Indian Parliament, opposition members in the upper house Rajya Sabha stood for a minute's silence in tribute.

The Hong Kong Standard said it was 'sad that successive British governments have failed to end the last of Europe's religious wars.'

A large monument dedicated to Irish protagonists for independence from Britain, including Bobby Sands, stands in the Waverly Cemetery in Sydney, Australia.

How could Bobby Sands not be a hero and inspiration to thousands of people, his self sacrifice is a shinning example of hope in the face of adversity

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