Bobby Sands Memorial Lecture
JIM GIBNEY, A MEMBER OF Sinn Fein's Ard Comhairle and one of the
main movers behind the H Block/Armagh committee set up in support
of the Five H Block Demands, delivered the annual Bobby Sands
memorial lecture in the Felons Club on Saturday night 3 May.
Gibney chose as his theme: Freedom, the Idea and spoke eloquently
of the time between October 1980 when the first hunger strike
began in the H Blocks to the end of the second hunger strike in
1981 that saw ten men die.
He spoke of the courage of the hunger strikers and their families
and also of the bravery of the nationalist people of Ireland who
came onto the streets in solidarity with the hunger strikers,
many with children, and faced many thousands of plastic bullets:
fired by the British crown forces as they attempted to drive them
off the streets.
``The bullets were meant to kill the children and some of them
did,'' Gibney said.
``What was it? What was it in the prisons that led to such
nobility? What was it on the streets that led to such bravery. In
my view it is the idea of freedom. The idea of freedom once it
has taken root can drive people to do extraordinary things in its
``The hunger strike of 1981 is a classic testament to this fact.
The idea and pursuit of freedom motivated the hunger strikers. It
was that idea that sustained them through the horrors of the
blanket protest, it was that idea that kept them going during the
hunger strike, it was the same idea that allowed them to cross
over the line separating life from death. It is the same idea
that motivates us, the same idea that brought people in their
thousands into polling stations across the state to vote for Sinn
Féin a few days ago''.
Gibney went on to remind us that in two weeks time we go to the
polls again saying that we can improve on the general election
result and insisting that, ``every vote that is cast for Sin Fein
carries with it the idea of freedom and no matter how long it
takes us to achieve that freedom we will struggle for it and when
we achieve it our society will reflect our commitment to the idea
for which the hunger strikers died, the idea of freedom''.