Irish Republican News · April 16, 2016
[Irish Republican News]

[Irish Republican News]
‘Cynical’ Bobby Sands electoral billboard slated


A controversy has erupted in Derry after Sinn Fein election candidate Raymond McCartney, called on people to vote for his party while unveiling a billboard commemorating the 35th anniversary of 1981 hunger striker Bobby Sands’ election to parliament last weekend.

Speaking at the unveiling at Free Derry Wall, Mr McCartney (pictured, front row, right) described Mr Sands’ election as an “iconic moment” in the context of the conflict, while urging votes for his party in the upcoming election to the Belfast Assembly.

“The election of Bobby Sands is an iconic moment, not just in terms of the prison struggle but the wider struggle for a United Ireland,” said Mr McCartney, who also took part in the 1981 hunger strike.

“Margaret Thatcher thought she could break the republican struggle by criminalising it. By claiming it had no support and no legitimacy. The 30,000 people who came out to elect Bobby proved her wrong,” he added.

He called on voters to remember Bobby Sands by returning himself and other Sinn Fein Assembly members to Stormont.

“As we face into another potentially historic election in the centenary year of 1916, it’s timely that we remember such a pivotal event.

“In 1981 thousands rallied to the call to elect Bobby, recently on Easter Sunday thousands more rallied to remember the Rising. Let us all remember the spirit of 1916 and 1981 and in this election embrace that same spirit by voting Sinn Fein.”

Former republican prisoner Thomas ‘Dixie’ Elliot expressed anger at what he said was the ‘brazen hijacking’ of Bobby Sands for electioneering purposes. A Derry artist, ‘Dixie’ Elliot is a former cellmate of Bobby Sands.

“This was nothing other than shameless electioneering with the sole intention of promoting Raymond McCartney using Bobby Sands and the Hunger Strikes,” he said.

“Otherwise why would the image of the Sinn Fein candidate be at least twice the size of that of Bobby?

“In fact why would he be on it at all if it merely commemorated an election Bobby stood in only in the hope that should he win Thatcher couldn’t let an MP die on Hunger Strike?

“While no-one can say for certain where the dead would stand today had they lived it is beyond doubt that Bobby and his nine comrades most certainly would not have died on Hunger Strike had they foreseen a future in which so-called republicans would apologise to the British military forces for the hurt they experienced during the war.

He said the party which rallied behind ‘Smash Stormont’ in 1981 was now propping Stormont up.

“At the time of his death Bobby wrote that ‘they would not churn us out as systemised, institutionalised, decent law-abiding robots’. And yet those who have become exactly that now claim ownership of Bobby, his writings and his legacy.”

The controversy following one in which a controversial graphic novel featuring the hunger striker was endorsed by the Sinn Fein-operated Bobby Sands Trust. The Sands family has again recently requested Sinn Fein to cease using his memory and image.

“It’s bad enough that Sinn Fein uses Bobby Sands with such shameless disregard as to what he in fact died for but it quite simply beggars belief that they would put a living party member, standing for an election, on a par with someone who paid the ultimate sacrifice,” the former blanketman said.

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© 2016 Irish Republican News