Bobby Sands elected MP

An Phoblacht

**From Two days in April – Remembering the Past

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On 9 April 1981, 24 years ago, republican POW and Hunger Striker Bobby Sands was elected to Westminster as the MP for Fermanagh/South Tyrone.

On 30 March, Bobby was nominated as candidate for the Fermanagh/South Tyrone by-election, caused by the sudden death of Frank Maguire, an independent MP who supported the prisoners’ cause.

The next morning, day 31 of his Hunger Strike, he was visited by Owen Carron, who acted as his election agent. Owen told of that first visit: “Instead of meeting that young man of the poster with long hair and a fresh face, even at that time when Bobby wasn’t too bad, he was radically changed. He was very thin and bony and his hair was cut short.”

Bobby won over 52% of the vote in the by-election compared to 49% for the candidate of the Official Unionist party, Harry West.

Bobby Sands’ winning margin was 1,400. Owen Carron, said:

“The nationalist people have voted against unionism and against the H-Blocks. It is time Britain got out of Ireland and put an end to the torture of this country.”

Bobby had no illusions with regard to his election victory. His reaction was not one of over-optimism. After the result was announced, Owen visited Bobby.

“He had already heard the result on the radio. He was in good form alright but he always used to keep saying, ‘In my position you can’t afford to be optimistic’. In other words, he didn’t take it that because he’d won an election that his life would be saved. He thought that the Brits would need their pound of flesh. I think he was always working on the premise that he would have to die.”

At 1.17am on Tuesday, 5 May, on the 66th day on hunger strike, Bobby Sands MP, died in the prison hospital at Long Kesh.

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