Last Thursday night, on the thirtieth anniversary of his death, County Wexford republicans gathered in Gorey to remember hunger striker Bobby Sands. Carry black flags and placards displaying images of the ten hunger strikers who died in 1981, they caused quite a stir by the 1798 monument in Gorey town.
"Firstly he was intimidated out of his job, and then in 1972, his family were intimidated out of their home," Fionntan O' Suillebhan told the assembled crowd, as he tried to explain what had changed Bobby Sands from being an ordinary working class boy into being an Irish Revolutionary.
"He joined the republican movement at the age of 18, and as he wrote himself, 'my life now centred around sleepless nights, dodging the Brits, calming the nerves to go on operations but the people stood by us. The people not only opened the doors of their homes to lend us a hand but they opened their hearts also. I learned that without the people we could never survive and I knew that I owed them everything.' And I suppose that's a lesson for today's dissidents who think that their group can survive without the support of the people."
Fionntan then read out a few lines of poetry from Bobby Sands.
They tortured me quite viciously
They threw me through the air.
It got so bad it seemed I had
Been beat beyond repair....
Each dirty trick they laid on thick
For no one heard or saw,
Who dares to say in Castlereagh
The 'police' would break the law!
On behalf of Gorey Sinn Féin, Liam Morris then called for a minutes silence. Afterwards, Cllr Anthony Kelly reminded everyone who attended that the County Wexford '81 committee intended to hold a vigil event on the anniversary of the death of all ten hunger strikers. These events would be spread across the county, and the next one would be held in Wexford town.