1/3/81: Second Irish hunger strike begins

On Sunday 1st March 1981 former IRA Commanding Officer Bobby Sands began a hunger strike in HM Prison Maze. It was the second strike of its kind after the one involving seven prisoners which had lasted 53 days in late 1980.

1980 hunger strikers (pic. Irish Times)
Although the British government had initially conceded to prisoners' demands, thus ending the strike, it became clear during the first months of 1981 that this was not the case and Sands began the new strike alone. He was joined by other prisoners at staggered intervals.

In a by-election held in April in the Northern Irish constituency of Fermanagh and South Tyrone Sands was elected member of the British Parliament although again the government stood fast against the prisoners' demands and the IRA, PM Margaret Thatcher refusing to give in to "criminals".

Bobby Sands pic. Irish Times

Bobby Sands died on 5 May 1981 after 66 days of the hunger strike.

source: CAIN (University of Ulster), Irish Times.

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