Graphic novel angers Sands family
Graphic novel angers Sands family


The family of Bobby Sands has called on the Bobby Sands Trust to disband after a row over a graphic novel which claims to depict the life of the hunger strike martyr.

In a statement that called on it to “disband and desist from using Bobby’s memory as a commercial enterprise”.

Sinn Fein leader Gerry Adams has penned an epilogue for the book, published above a picture of him with former hunger striker Brendan Hughes. Hughes and some members of the Sands family have accused Mr Adams for betraying core republican principles.

Michael O’Brien of O’Brien Press said on Tuesday the book had been “fact checked with Gerry Adams” and that it was “true, important and worthy”.

The Bobby Sands family said they were never even informed that the book had been written and was due for publication.

“The Sands family wish it to be known that at no time were they consulted regarding the accuracy of the content published in the book Bobby Sands Freedom Fighter, which is claimed to be factual,” they said in a statement.

“It is reprehensible that the family, including our elderly mother, was first made aware of this book when confronted by extracts displayed in the media today.

“We are given to understand that the book contains intimate family scenes that no one, other than our family members, would be privy to.”

The family make clear that they do not blame the author for these failures, but instead call again for the Bobby Sands Trust, which advised the author on the contents, to be disbanded.

“It is unfortunate that well meaning people, such as Mr Hunt (the author) are misled by those who profess to be authorities on Bobby’s life story,” the statement continues.

“Our family once again reiterates that the Bobby Sands Trust does not act on behalf of Bobby, nor does it represent our family, in any shape or form.

“We again call upon the Trust to disband and desist from using Bobby’s memory as a commercial enterprise.

“Once again an opportunity to promote Bobby’s ideals and sacrifice that he died for has been diminished by those who seek to promote different agendas- both personal and political.”

Danny Morrison, former Sinn Fein director of publicity and secretary of the Trust, claimed he was not responsible for the book.

“We have no commercial interest in this book whatsoever,” he said. “We were asked to check spellings and factual errors and discovered several.”

Morrison insisted the Trust is merely fulfilling Sands’s wishes, following his decision to “bequeath all his his writing to the republican movement in 1981”.


Separately, news that the publication had received a grant from the Arts Council in the North provoked outrage from unionists, who described the book as “republican propaganda”.

The Ulster Unionist MP, Tom Elliott, said he believed the book was “really a glorification of Bobby Sands’ life as a terrorist”.

A spokesman for the Northern Arts Council said that a total of just over five thousand pounds was spent to support the book.

“The Bobby Sands book, a full colour graphic novel by Gerry Hunt, is by an author and illustrator who has a significant track record in the genre of graphic novels and has written other historical graphic novels,” he said.

Publisher Mr O’Brien said the reaction had taken him by surprise and he regretted that the book had become “highly politicised”.

He said the “graphic novel” form generally was aimed at adults and was acclaimed all over the world although not so familiar with Irish readers.

“To trivialise this work I think is just out of ignorance with the form,” he said.

He said that O’Brien Press had also published a children’s book on the Siege of Derry, which would have been from a unionist perspective.

“We are not propagandist. We are not campaigning for anybody and I am not in any political party. We are not doctrinaire,” added Mr O’Brien.

“It was a worldwide story. There are streets in Tehran, of all places, named after Bobby Sands. We went to a lot of trouble to get the facts checked.”

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