**The following excerpt is from TEN MEN DEAD by David Beresford and begins after Bobby has been elected MP.

In the prison the hunger strike was continuing inexorably. As the count had got under way down in Enniskillen, Hughes was being moved to the prison hospital. Patsy O'Hara was beginning to feel the effects, telling the doctor that when he touched his left side, or his stomach, a pain shot up his body. The doctor said it was to be expected and would only get worse. A few days later, on the 15th, both he and Raymond McCreesh followed Sands and Hughes to the hospital, both of them getting rousing send-offs in their wings.

Quite apart from the overall political significance of the election result, it had destroyed the Government's short-term strategy for handling the hunger strike. It was obviously no longer possible to continue trying to ignore it. Instead it was decided to present a reasonable front - to be seen to be doing everything possible to resolve the dispute, short of meeting the demands. So when Sands put in a formal request to be allowed a visit from three members of the Dublin Parliament, it was quickly granted; so quickly that Sands himself was caught short - the outside leadership had not got around to telling him what was the purpose of the visit. He was getting short-tempered by this stage and was irritated by the lapse. He had had the last rites on Saturday the 18th. Medical staff had begun rubbing cream into his body and checking his condition every two hours. He was sleeping on a sheep-skin rug, on a waterbed, to try and protect his skin. His eyes were hurting all the time and he was finding it difficult to read the smuggled comms.

The three Irish Parliamentarians were also members of the European Parliament: Sile de Valera, a statuesque blonde and granddaughter of the founder of the present Irish Republic, Eamon de Valera; Neil Blaney, a former Irish Cabinet minister slung out of government after a scandal over alleged gun-running to the IRA; and John O'Connell, a medical doctor, editor of the Irish Medical Times and son of a British soldier.

They met at the Fairways hotel in Dundalk, just south of the border in the early hours of Monday morning, having been told that the RUC wanted them across the border by 7.30 A.M. for security reasons. Owen Carron and Danny Morrison met them at the hotel and they piled into Carron's car. On the other side of the yellow line marking the border the police were waiting. Two armoured Cortinas loaded with officers pulled out, one in front an one at the back, and they roared up the A6 to the Kesh.

As they went into the prison hospital John O'Connell turned to the other two and said that he was planning to ask Sands to end the hunger strike. They walked the cell, looking dapper - all three of them wearing suts - as the warder said: 'You've got visitors, members of the European Parliament.' Sands was lying on the bed looking gaunt, his face marble white, almost blending with the white sheets; he was very different from the chubby-faced picture everyone knew on the election posters and in the media. His eyes seemed glazed at first, but he brightened and sat up when he saw them. O'Connell looked at him critically, as a patient; he had little experience of starvation, only a couple of patients suffering anorexia nervosa, but the diagnosis he offered up mentally was easy: emaciated, needs nourishment fast, intravenously. They took his hand in turn - Sands too feeble to lift his - and introduced themselves. O'Connell made a quick medical check before they started talking: eyes shrunken and sight fading. He flashed a hand in front of his face: wink reflex going. The pulse was weak and, slipping a hand into his pyjama jacket, he felt the heart was feeble. About five or six days to live.

They sat down on the right-hand side of the bed. How could they help? they asked. Sands launched into an account of the hunger strike, explaining why the five demands had been devised and how they could be met by Britain without loss of face. They listened intently, struck by the clarity of his thinking. Then O'Connell appealed to him to come off, telling him that he had proved his point and that all three of them would fight for him and demand that Thatcher make the changes. It was right to stand and fight for what you believed in, but there was no use dying for it. Surely it was better to live and fight than to die. Sands clarified: 'I knew you would say that,' he said. No, he would not be coming off. They talked for about forty minutes - no limit had been set on the visit - when O'Connell decided Sands should be allowed to rest and said they had better be going. He took Sands's hand in his own, putting the other on his shoulder, and said: 'We'll do everything we can to help.' De Valera had tears in her eyes and put a hand behind him; for a moment O'Connell thought she was going to sweep him into her arms, like a mother cuddling a child. Blaney, big and toughh of reputation, bent over to say goodbye and caressed Sands's face with the back of his hand in a gesture of intense gentleness. As they looked back from the door all three knew they would not be seeing him again: there was no doubt in their minds that Sands was going the distance. De Valera turned to the warder and asked why they kept food at the bottom of the bed. 'In case he wants to eat,' said the warder.

They were taken out of the prison through a side gate, because there was a Loyalist demonstration taking place at the front against their visit. They had planned to go to Belfast to hold a press conference, but their police escort insisted they had to return south. So they headed back to Dundalk to organize an alternative press conference in Dublin and despatch a telegram to Thatcher, appealing for a meeting to discuss the prison dispute. Mrs Thatcher, still in Saudi Arabia, retorted at a press conference: 'It is not my habit or custom to meet MPs from a foreign country about a citizen of the UK, resident in the UK.'

Desperate moves were afoot in Dublin. The Papal Nuncio, Monsignor Gaetano Alibrandi - the Vatican's ambassador to Ireland - despatched a telegram to the Pope, outlining the growing crisis. The Prime Minister, Charlie Haughey, was becoming increasingly anxious. He had planned to hold an election in May and the groundwork was well advanced; the campaign song, 'Arise and Follow Charlie', had even made it into the pop charts. But if he held an election with the hunger strike still on, it could be disastrous for him. Sands had shown the impact the H-Blocks could have on an election and a few thousand votes stolen from Fianna Fail - the 'Republican Party' - by the prisoners could be enough to give FitzGerald power. He called in the British Ambassador for half an hour for discussions. Haughey, together with John Hume and the Bishop of Derry, Dr Edward Daley, was busily trying to arrange for an intervention by the European Commission for Human Rights. The European Commission had been involved in the H-Block issue before, although in completely different circumstances.

The commission was established to monitor and act under the European Convention on Human Rights, enacted and signed by twenty states in 1953. Staffed by about twenty lawyers, housed in a modern building behind the Council of Europe Assembly in Strasbourg, their brief was to investigate complaints, mediate between complainants and, where they were unable to resolve the issue, to refer the matter to the European Court of Human Rights for a ruling, or to the Council of Europe's Foreign Ministers for diplomatic action. In June 1980 they had rejected a complaint over the H-Blocks issue, brought by Kieran Nugent and three other prisoners, ruling that there were no grounds under international law for the claim to political status and that conditions in the prison were self-inflicted, and therefore no cause for complaint against Britain. But at the same time they had criticized Britain, expressing concern 'at the inflexible approach of the State authorities which has been concerned more to punish offenders against prison discipline than to explore ways of resolving such a serious deadlock'. It was the phrase which Haughey and Hume believed could give the opening to Britain to now act - because it could be presented as a reaction to the commission, rather than to the hunger strike. The problem was that the commission's constitution specified that complaints could only be lodged by signatories to the Convention, or 'any person, non-governmental organization, or group of individuals claiming to be the victims of the violation'. So the complaint had to come from the prisoners - preferably Sands. Hume, with his powerful contacts in Europe, had nearly persuaded the commission to allow two members, the Danish acting president, Professor Carlaage Norgaard, and a Norwegian, Professor Torkel Opsahl, to act as mediators. But a row had ensued at the commission's Strasbourg headquarters, with other members protesting that such an informal initiative might damage the commission's standing. So Haughey decided he would have to get a formal request out of the Sands family for the commission to intervene.

He had an hour-long meeting with Bobby's sister, Marcella, and their mother, at which he told them the only chance for him was to get the commission into the Kesh. Britain was looking for an opening for a settlement. It was a formality. He produced a prepared document - a complaint to the commission over the treatment of Sands in prison - and persuaded Marcella to sign it. It was a three-point complaint against Britain, for violating Sands's rights to life, to protection from inhuman treatment and to freedom of expression - the last a reference to the refusal of the authorities to allow him access to the media before the election and to have normal contact with his constituents since becoming an MP.

Within hours Professor Norgaard and Professor Opsahl were on their way, together with two commission officials, Mr Michael O'Boyle and Dr Hans Christian Kruger. They stopped off at London and had a ninety-minute meeting with Foreign Office officials, agreeing that while Marcella Sands's complaint was sufficient grounds for them to make the journey, it would have to be confirmed by Bobby Sands himself if they were to take it any further.

They went into the Kesh on Saturday the 25th, and ran straight into problems. Sands, through his lawyer, Pat Finucan, flatly refused to see them unless his 'advisers'- McFarlane, Gerry Adams and another senior Sinn Féin official, Danny Morrison - were present. The commissioners asked if they could see McFarlane to discuss it and he was brought across to the hospital to meet them. They asked him if there was any way they could get in to see Sands on their own, just to get confirmation of Marcella's complaint. McFarlane said that the conditions had already been agreed among themselves and would have to be met before Sands would agree to see them. The commissioners said rules of procedure by which they were bound wuld not allow it. The commission always conducted its business in confidence and the presence of 'witnesses' had a ring of publicity about it which worried them. McFarlane, as always looking for the opening to wrong-foot the Government, asked who had prevented them from bringing in Adams and Morrison. Professor Opsahl said it was the Government, but Dr Kruger cut in, saying the Government would prevent them if asked. McFarlane said that was only an assumption unto they made the request. Kruger said that was correct, but they did not feel able to make such a request. McFarlane said they had already set the precedent by asking to see him. There was no question of his asking Sands to change the preconditions. O'Boyle said talk of preconditions indicated inflexibility. McFarlane retorted that they had made many attempts to settle the issue in the face of British inflexibility.

With the argument unresolved McFarlane went in to see Sands for ten minutes. Sands could hardly talk. He was not incoherent, but his speech was slurred and slow, as if he was running up a hill. McFarlane outlined what was happening and Sands told him to stand fast. McFarlane went out to see the commissioners again, reaffirmed Sands's position and told them that if they could get permission to have Adams and Morrison in, it could lead to talks. He was taken back to his cell.

After eight hours in the Kesh the commissioners gave up. They slipped out of the prison through a side entrance, avoiding a demonstration by 200 followers of the Reverend Ian Paisley, who were waving placards demanding. 'Did 2,000 dead have human rights?' and brandishing hangmen's nooses. Later the commissioners issued a three-paragraph statement, pedantically headed: 'Marcella Sands v United Kingdom number (Application number 9338/81) It said Mr Sands did not wish to associate himself with his sister's complaint, although he was prepared to see them in the company of three colleagues. 'After further consultations the delegation concluded that in the circumstances it was not possible to see and confer with Mr Sands and accordingly no meeting took place.'

That night Sands had a crisis. His family were called up to the prison hospital and for a while it was touch and go whether he would make it through the night. Outside tensions rose. Bakeries in Catholic areas reported a run on bread supplies as stockpiling began. The IRA staged a show of strength in Armagh, setting up a road block with fifteen masked men carrying Armalites and sub-machine guns. The 'Ulster Army Council', a defunct umbrella organization which had been created to coordinate Loyalist paramilitary action, was revived and met to agree strategy for the defence of Protestant areas if civil war broke out. The UDA announced it was mobilizing 2,500 men in Belfast to protect Protestant areas. In Andersonstown, West Belfast, the INLA dumped a hijacked lorry in the middle of a road, blocking traffic. A police patrol arrived and Constable Garry Martin, aged 28 and the father of two baby sons, climbed into the cab to move it, dying instantly as it exploded. Near the town of Castlewellan, in Co. Down, IRA gunmen opened fire on an unmarked van carrying three soldiers. The driver lost control and the vehicle turned over, killing Lannce Corporal Richard McKee of the Ulster Defence Regiment. Across the Province police started rounding up H-Block campaigners for 'questioning'. In Belfast 13,000 took part in a march, showing the strength of Nationalist emotions. In London one end of Downing Street was padlocked as police, discreetly began introducing security measures. The Government seemed resigned to the death of Sands and the ensuing mayhem.

But at 4.30 P.M. on Tuesday the 28th the twice-hourly shuttle service to Belfast took off from Heathrow with another VIP on his way to try and settle the dispute at the Kesh: this time it was the Pope's secretary.

Fr Magee was an Irishman, born in Newry in 1936. He had studied philosophy in Cork before going out to Nigeria, working there for six years as a missionary teacher. In Nigeria he had been befriended by Cardinal Sergio Pignedoli, then papal delegate in Lagos, under whose patronage he was to have a meteoric career in the Church. Ordained in Rome in 1962, he was invited by Cardinal Pignedoli to join the Secretariat for Evangelization of Peoples in Rome. In 1975 he had been appointed personal secretary to Pope Paul VI, a personal friend of Cardinal Pignedoli. Fr Magee established a close relationship with Paul VI, who mentioned him in his will, but after his death was asked to remain secretary to John Paul I. It was Fr Magee who found the pontiff dead in his bed, thirty-three days later. When the Polish Paul II was elected he also asked Fr Magee to stay on, explaining: 'I don't know anyone around here at the Vatican.' Later the Pope appointed a Polish priest to share the secretarial duties with him.

Fr Magee had discussed papal intervention in the hunger strike with Cardinal O Fiaich, by phone to Armagh, a few days earlier. The Irish Cardinal was not particularly enthusiastic, feeling that it was too late and that to have an emissary come over from Rome in a blaze of publicity and then fail to settle the dispute would be worse than nothing. But the Pope and the Vatican's Secretary of State, Cardinal Casaroli, after consultations with the Catholic hierarchy in England as well as the Irish Government, decided the intervention was worth it. Fr Magee phoned Cardinal O Fiaich again on Tuesday 28 April to say he was on his way. The British Embassy in Rome was advised of the priest's plan and it was agreed that no announcement would be made until he actually got to Belfast and into the Kesh, to avoid Loyalist demonstrations on his arrival. But when he arrived on his Alitalia flight at Heathrow en route for Belfast he found the press had been alerted and the airport was swarming with journalists. He was met by the Minister of State at the Foreign Office, Peter Blaker, and had a brief talk with him in an airport lounge before taking the flight to Belfast.

In Belfast Cardinal O Fiaich had discovered that the police were arranging to pick Fr Magee up at the airport. He tried to persuade them not to, because it might identify him too closely with the authorities. But the police insisted, on security grounds. At the airport the cardinal suggested to Fr Magee that he go to Fr Murphy's home and then into the Kesh under the aegis of the prison chaplain. Fr Magee agreed, but police insisted on his making the trip to Fr Murphy's in a bulletproof limousine. So they set off in convoy, the cardinal in his car, Fr Magee in the police car and press cars tagging along behind. It was turning into a circus. At Fr Murphy's house, a. few miles from the Kesh, they had to talk in the bedroom, to avoid the heads peering in through the windows downstairs.

Fr Magee went into the Kesh twice, seeing Sands three times as well as meeting Hughes, McCreesh and O'Hara, making a personal appeal on the Pope's behalf to them to try to settle the dispute. He also spent an hour with Humphrey Atkins, finding the Secretary of State surprisingly hostile. He left Northern Ireland with nothing achieved, issuing a statement to 'assure all that the efforts of the Holy Father will continue in seeking-ways to help people in Northern Ireland, indeed in Ireland as a whole, to work out solutions to their communal problems in accordance with Christian teachings.'

The tension continued to rise, with some help from the Secretary of State, who announced he had knowledge that the IRA was planning to try and start sectarian warfare in the event of Sands's death; he claimed that in one area of Belfast they were intending to evacuate residents and burn their emptied houses, blaming it on Protestant paramilitaries to fuel sectarian conflict. When it emerged that the area he was referring to was the Short Strand - a Catholic enclave, in Protestant East Belfast - the claim was met with ridicule; one community leader in the area, making the point that virtually every family there had IRA connections, asked sarcastically: 'Whose house will they burn first?'

In Rome the Pope called on Roman Catholics to 'pray for our Catholic and non-Catholic brethren in Northern Ireland in the time of grave tension they are going through, which it is feared may again erupt in new and most grave acts of fratricidal violence'.

In the village of Toomebridge Bernadette McAliskey was appealing for calm. 'In the event of Bobby Sands dying we do not want a single riot, a single stoning, or a single petrol bombing,' she told several thousand demonstrators at an H-Block rally. 'If Bobby Sands can die for the five demands, we can hold our tempers.'

Inside the Kesh the tension was having its effect on McFarlane. He had anxiously asked the Falls Road for advice on what would happen if a settlement were reached while Bobby was in a coma. Would doctors be able to intervene, legally, if they had not had his prior permission? On the Monday night, after the commissioners had gone, he dreamed he was talking to Cardinal O Fiaich. The cardinal was giving him a verbal lambasting. Adams was standing behind the Primate, pissing against a wall and glaring at McFarlane menacingly over horn-rimmed glasses. It was beginning to dawn on McFarlane that maybe the Brits were not going to do anything: they were just going to let Bobby die.

Brownie [Gerry Adams] 29.4.81 from Bik
Comrade, Mor, got your very welcome comm today. Good to hear from you. This is really some situation isn't it? A terrific thought struck me two days ago and that was that there was every possibility the Brits will not say anything at all or make any attempt at dipping in attractive offers, but just stand back and let things run their course. I think your analysis of the Brit mentality is about as close as anyone can come i.e. their stupidity is unbelievable. I still don't think they have learned that oppression breeds resistance and further oppression - further resistance!! As for their arrogance - I never saw the likes of it (of course I'm not a much travelled individual but I reckon I'd have to go a long way to meet persons of a similar 'superior' nature). However, as you said, they will regret their stupidity. How I wish I were out - just to light the blue touch paper and retire if you know what I mean!! Old habits die hard though some of mine had to be re-diirected as you well know. Anyway, one day I'll make a few noises in the right sectors. Now, where was I? Yes, Brit arrogance. I mind Tom McKearney quoted me a bit of Rudyard Kipling (I think that's the guy who makes exceedingly good cakes!). According to old Rudy the British are immune to logic - a sensible enough assertion I would say. They're the only people I know who are perfectly correct when they are entirely wrong. I was over there a couple of years and found that this attitude was prevalent among all classes. Though I suppose its wrong of me to generalize in such a manner. Oh balls to the British - why waste skibs and ink? As you know I saw Bob on Saturday - it was quite an experience and in all honesty I haven't felt the same since. I just had a short yarn with him and when I was preparing to leave he said quietly: 'I'm dying Bik.' Don't think I can describe how I felt just then. I couldn't say anything except God Bless. I told him I'd see him again very soon and he just gave me quiet laugh. Man, what a feeling!! ...
To Liam Og 29.4.81 12.30 A.M. (of 30th)
. . . I think it's becoming increasingly more obvious that the Brits are going to hold fast. It's a nightmarish thought comrade which is taking on the form of cold hard reality with each passing day. . .
Liam Og from Bik 30.4.81
Comrade, just after reading your comm for the third time. What can I say? You should have been a psychologist - that was an invaluable therapy session on three skibs. The truth is you are perfectly correct in drawing the conclusions you did from my last comms as I have been worried of just such a situation you mentioned, i.e. a last minute life and death struggle, with the Brits trying to panic me. There is only one answer I suppose and that is to be strong - stronger than the Brits in fact and to have faith in oneself and those pulling with you. As you say - maintain the line and refuse to be panicked. I know Bob will see it through so I reckon 100 per cent effort must be forthcoming from the rest of us. It's just that this situation is exactly what you said it was - overwhelming - and it takes a bit of effort staying with it. However your comm had a sound effect on me - reassuring and solidifying I would say. You're really quite a chap you know and you needn't apologize for things which may hurt - very often they prove the only recipe for success. By the way it didn't hurt. Try harder next time (Ha). You're not really the 'B' you say you are though there are those who would say you were worse. Just on what you say about other men going hunger strike - I take your point about committing the Movement on men's personal opinions and agree that only the best interests should dictate our actions. You already know my feelings about replacing a dead comrade - I still feel we should do this though I did accept last week's decision of the Army Council. I believe that this situation has become even bigger than we imagined it would and therefore we should examine all strategies which may help to achieve a victory. I know we are speaking here of a terrible cost in terms of men's lives. Anyway the first four hunger strikers and then a possible repetition with those who follow. But high stakes will demand a high price. I know all the arguments against protracted hunger strike and basically speaking I have been in agreement with them. However if changing circumstances offer us other avenues which at one time considered infeasible are now thought feasible we should explore them. That's about it I reckon. I've enclosed the names of the first four replacements from my original list. I'll get them to comm you as soon as possible. They are 1. Joe McDonnell H5 Lenadoon. 2. Brendan McLoughlin H5 North Derry. 3. Kieran Doherty H6 Andersonstown. 4. Kevin Lynch IRSP H3 Dungiven. There are others which you won't need at present - just the first four OK. I haven't much else for you just now . . .
Jim Gibney, a senior Sinn Féin official, had just been in to see McCreesh. He was in good shape. Gibney was walking down t he corridor when he saw Sands's door open. His mother, father and sister, Marcella, were alongside the bed. Bobby was wearing a crucifix given to him by Fr Magee on the Pope's behalf.
How are you?' asked Gibney.
'Is that you, Jim?' asked Sands.
'It is, Bobby.' He took his band.
'I'm blind. I can't see you. Tell the lads to keep their chins up.'

With speculation in the media that the end was only hours away for Sands, the Province settled into a deathly wait. On Thursday night he slept in snatches, from hour to hour. He had been managing to hold the water down, but was battling to get it out again. His hearing was going as well as his sight - noises seemed to echo in his head. Pain in his stomach and chest was constant. Friday was May Day and Labour's spokesman on Northern Ireland, Don Concannon, chose the occasion to fly over from London for a hurried visit to the Kesh, to inform Sands of his party's backing for the Government on the whole issue. Concannon, who as former minister at the Northern Ireland Office responsible for prisons had presided over the withdrawal of special category status, explained afterwards that he had gone in because he did not want Sands misunderstanding the Opposition's position.

Later in the day Carron was allowed in for time. He found Sands in no shape to talk. He was lying on the waterbed, his left eye was black and closed, the right eye nearly closed and his mouth twisted as if he had suffered a stroke. He had no feeling in his legs and could only whisper. Every now and then he started dry retching. He managed to ask Carron if there was any change. The Fermanagh man said no, there was no change. Sands said: 'Well, that's it.' He told Carron: 'Keep my ma in mind.' Carron bent over the bed, hugged him and kissed him.

* * *

'Do not tell me the IRA represents people in Northern Ireland,' said the Foreign Secretary, Lord Carrington, on Independent Radio. 'They have no status, they are not accepted by anyone,' he added.

Over the weekend one last, despairing bid was made by Haughey and, the Church. Fr Murphy went in to see McFarlane to relay the suggestion, from Cardinal O Fiaich, that if the prisoners would compromise with two or three demands - say their own clothing, the right not to work and perhaps free association - it would give Haughey more leverage in dealing with Mrs Thatcher. The Government had been insisting that the five demands amounted to political status, so that they could not claim that three demands also amounted to status. It would put them in an embarrassing position. McFarlane replied sarcastically: 'Why was. it only at the last minute that everyone wanted to put pressure on the Brits?' There was no way that they were going to provide escape hatches for 'Amadon' -'the Fool', as he called Haughey - in his dealings with 'Tinknickers', Mrs Thatcher. Obviously Britain did not want a settlement, so it did not matter whether there were fifteen demands or one demand. They were using the prisoners to try and break the IRA and were prepared to let men die to achieve that. And if that was the case then men would die, because they were not surrendering.

'You are looking for a victory over them and they the same over you, which means someone loses.' said the chaplain. 'What I'm looking for is a settlement whereby the prisoners get basically what they want and the Brits don't come under the accusing finger of surrendering to terrorism, which they won't do anyway.'

McFarlane said that if the Brits really wanted a solution they would agree to fifteen demands and call it Man on the Moon Status. The prisoners were sticking by five demands.
'I hope you win.' said Fr Murphy, as he left.

On Sunday Sands lapsed into a coma. His parents, brother Séan and Marcella were with him to the end, which came at 1. 17 on the morning of Tuesday 5 May 1981.

It was announced by the Northern Ireland Office thirty- five minutes later with a terse statement: 'He took his own life by refusing food and medical intervention for sixty-six days.' -the Speaker of the House of Commons, George Thomas, rose to tell Parliament with the words.. 'I regret to have to inform the House of the death of Robert Sands Esquire, the Member for Fermanagh and South Tyrone.' He pointedly failed to extend condolences to the family, which are traditionally offered by the Speaker on the death of a Member.

Reaction flooded in from around the world. The US Government issued a statement expressing deep regret. The Longshoremen's Union announced a twenty-four-hour boycott of British ships. The New Jersey State legislature voted 34-29 for a resolution honouring his 'courage and commitment'. More than 1,000 gathered in St Patrick's Cathedral to hear New York's Cardinal Cook offer a Mass of reconciliation for northern -Ireland. Irish bars in the city closed for two hours in mourning. The New York Times said: 'Despite proximity and a common language the British have persistently misjudged the depth of Irish nationalism.' In San Francisco's Irish community the mood was reported to be 'subdued, courteous enough, but curiously menacing, as if everyone is waiting for a message as yet undelivered'. In Rome the President of the Italian Senate, Amintore Fanfani, stepped into the breach left by the British Speaker, expressing condolences to the Sands family. About 5,000 students burnt the Union Jack and shouted 'Freedom for Ulster' during a march in Milan. In Ghent students invaded the British consulate. Thousands marched in Paris behind a huge portrait of Sands, to chants of 'The IRA will conquer.' The town of Le Mans announced it was naming a street after him, which the British Embassy said was 'an insult to Britain'.

The Hong Kong Standard said it was 'sad that successive British governments have failed to end the last of Europe's religious wars'. The Hindustan Times said Mrs Thatcher had allowed a fellow Member of Parliament to die of starvation, an incident which had never before occurred 'in a civilized country'. Tehran announced Iran would be sending its ambassador in Sweden to represent the Government at the funeral. In Oslo demonstrators threw a balloon filled with tomato sauce at the Queen, who was on a visit to Norway. In India Opposition members of the Upper House stood for a minute's silence in tribute. Members of Indira Gandhi's ruling Congress Party refused to join in. In Portugal members of the Opposition stood for him. In Spain the Catholic Ya newspaper described Sands's hunger strike as 'subjectively an act of heroism' while the conservative ABC said he was a political kamikaze who had got his strategy wrong. Die Welt said in West Germany that the British Government was right and he was simply trying to blackmail the state with his life. In Russia Pravda described it as 'another tragic page in the grim chronicle of oppression, discrimination, terror and in violence' Ireland. In Poland Lech Walesa paid tribute. In Toulouse a bomb exploded in a warehouse used by the British tyre firm, Dunlop, and a slogan was found sprayed on a wall saying: 'English power kills.' A second bomb blew a hole in the door of the British Chamber of Commerce in Milan and a third exploded outside the Royal British Club in Lisbon. In London a parcel bomb addressed to the Prince of Wales was intercepted at High Holborn sorting office.

On the streets of West Belfast the women took to the streets, banging dustbin lids - in the days of internment used as the alarm to signal the troops were coming. By 2 A.M., as the news had spread throughout the ghetto areas, barricades were burning and Molotov cocktails arching their way towards police and army bases and patrols.

In cell 6, D Wing, H3, baby-faced Jake Jackson lay on his back in the top bunk, staring at the ceiling. He was remembering a day back in December 1965. He had been six years old, living with his granny in the Ardoyne. It had been snowing outside, which had added to the feeling of desolation. He had gone downstairs to his Aunt Mary and said: 'My Granny won't wake up.' Then Mary was crying and neighbours were running in and out. On the day of the funeral his mother had come back without his father and he'd said 'Where's daddy?' and his sister had said 'Your dad fell down. the hole and they filled it in' and he had cried and cried and cried. And on his bunk he cried quietly in the silence of the H-Block. Below him Bik was scribbling.

To Brownie 2.15 A.M.
Comrade mor, I just heard the news - I'm shattered -just can 't believe it. This is a terrible feeling I have. I don't even know what to say. Comrade, I'm sorry, but I just can't say anything else. May God in his infinite mercy grant eternal rest to his soul. Jesus Christ protect guide us all.
God Bless.
xoxo Bik xoxo
Liam Og Tue 5.5.81 8.00 A.M.
Comrade, this grief is unbelievable. I know you all must be wrecked out there. Words fail me to tell you the truth. I always was prepared for this and thought it would come but I was always praying and hoping that we could avoid it. When it did come it stunned me and I still feel numb. I can't really say much at present. I've enclosed a short note to the Sands family and Ricky has done one from the blanket men OK? Let's stay together comrade and hammer the bastards into the ground. I'll be in touch again soon. Could you get the signer [lawyer] up on Thursday just to get me out of this concrete box. God bless.
5.5.81 from Séanna H6
Got words on visits about Bob. No need to tell you how we feel. Also we got comm from you this morning. Screws not saying anything to lads, but slobbering and cracking jokes amongst themselves. Just before lock-up tonight they searched a few cells and wrote slogans on the walls. Screws weren't regulars . . . A few of the things they wrote, 'Goodbye Bobby, Bobby Sands RIP etc.' ...
To: - Frank - Ray + Patsy - Hospital
Comrades, the death of our comrade Bob has left us all in great sorrow and though we had prepared for such a tragic event it nevertheless stunned each of us. I feel a great sense of personal loss also - in fact we all do - blanket men are more than comrades - they are brothers. Therefore our loss is all the greater. We all feel a bitterness of immeasurable depth and a very great anger at this callous act by the British Government. From this has come an even greater determination, to resist and to fight back harder. It is a time for total commitment by each of us as we think on the ultimate sacrifice Bob made and of the torture each of you are enduring this very instant. We have taken strength from his death and from your resolve and I can tell you now that these men have responded in a true Republican spirit - totally disciplined and determined. We all stand with you and we shall not be shaken. We can succeed and we will succeed. May God take care of each of you and Bless you. -
Bik -
To Liam Og from Bik 5.30 P.M.
Comrade, I've been following all the news and trying to keep a clear head at the same time. Things must be hectic out there. In here it's quiet - no trouble - no talk from screws - no problems. Hope you got all my stuff today. There's not a lot I can tell you at present - I'm ready and waiting for any moves anyone may make, but I don't reckon they are coming - not just now, anyway. I hear Frank is in a bad way now. Dear God what a place!! Your advice re people trying to put pressure on me, and what way I should get was sound. That's what Index was at this morning in his bungling fashion. I paid no heed comrade - such tactics aren't worthy of a reaction. Well mate, it's been a heartbreaking day for us all. We lost someone we all loved very dearly and we can't cry in case someone is looking. Who made these rules, eh? Love to all.
To Liam Og from Bik 5.5.81 1.00 P.M.
Comrade, got your comm a few minutes ago - sound enough. Not really much to say. My sorrow is now paralleled by an extreme bitterness comrade, but I'm sound enough. I've kept the lads on a tight rein and they have responded well. It's now ,1.30 and index has just left me. We didn't talk much though he asked if there was anything in my power to prevent the Hughes family going through the same agony next week. I told him that power lay with the Brits and if they didn't implement a solution then there would be more deaths and as far as I was on the cards. He said a prayer for Bob and just after he started he turned to me and said - 'we're praying for two Roberts aren't we-?' (referring to my father) - I just said - that' s correct. That's the heap. I'll get back to you tomorrow. Take good care and God Bless. Bik.
6.5.81 From Riasteard PRO
Alright comrade? Will you put an insertion in the paper on behalf of the blanket men using the following verse. 'They have nothing in their whole imperial arsenal that can break the spirit of one Irishman who doesn't want to be broke.' That's it cara, it is of sentimental importance to a lot of us for Bobby more or less adopted it as his motto ...
To Liam Og from O/C H5 6.5.81
... The tension in the block prior to Bobby's death was running very high. There was an incident on Monday concerning a petty screw and one of our lads (Paddy O'Hara, Tyrone). There were words exchanged and when the screw started into Paddy's cell he was clocked. The screw got a black eye. Paddy at his point was alright, but he was then put between the grilles with the same screw and we heard scuffles there and believe Paddy may have received a severe beating. The men are now stunned and shocked at the reality of Bob's death. The tension is still there and the screws are not taking any chances, letting too many out at the same time ...
His body was brought home the following afternoon to his parents' house on Laburnum Way in Twinbrool Estate where it lay in state in an open coffin under the front window of the drawing room. Local youths built a shrine out of boxes across the road, with a crucifix painted black-the words 'peace', 'justice' and 'freedom' inscribed in white - a tiny statue of Christ in Glory and, fluttering above in the slight wind, the tricolour and the flags of the ancient kingdoms of Ulster, Munster, Connacht and Leinster. Relays of young IRA men and women in black masks, IRA uniforms and dark glasses stood, guard of honour night and day, one at each end of the coffin, watching as neighbours, friends and the curious walked through to pay their last respects. Several top IRA men who had never personally known Sands slipped by, kissing his cold and rouged face.
A Sinn Fein official whispered to Rosaleen Sands that there was an English journalist outside who wanted to see him. She did not want him in, but then someone said, 'Why not, let them see what they've done.' So he came in and stood uncertainly by the coffin, nodded to Mrs Sands who stared implacably back, and hurried out ...

A news agency photographer the Sands family £75,000 for a picture of Bobby in his coffin. During his time in internment a group photograph had been taken of him and fellow prisoners, with a smuggled camera, and the blurred picture had become one of the most famous in the world. His family turned down the offer of a new one.

The funeral was held on the Thursday. The Sands family had been refused a 'concelebrated Mass' - the Church did not want to make a fuss about Sands's death. The people did.

It was pure guesswork as to how many attended, but the general estimate was that more than 100,000 people lined the route from St Luke's church, a few yards from the Sands home, to Milltown cemetery. It was the silence of the numbers which made the deepest impression - not frightening, but awe-inspiring. The tricolour and gloves and a white rose were pinned to the coffin. It wended its way down the Stewartstown Road, past the army base at Lenadoon, where huge screens had been erected to protect a nearby Protestant housing estate from the sight of an IRA martyr's funeral. The procession was led by a piper, playing an H-Block song:

But I'll wear no convict's uniform
Nor meekly serve my time
That Britain may call Ireland's fight
Eight hundred years of crime.

It was raining and at Milltown the red clay was being churned by shuffling feet between the dangling Christs and the marble Marys watching over the tombstones. Mourners had ducked under their umbrellas and television cameramen and photographers from America, Europe, Japan and even Thailand clung to a scaffolding erected to give them a bird's eye view of the grave. The coffin was carried with the pomp of the slow march, 8-year-old Gerard smart in brown jacket with a Beatle-style haircut, clutching his grandmother's hand and following behind, looking bemused by the funeral rites for a father he had not known.

In the crowd a middle-aged woman in black leather coat and boots, her hair done up in loops, craned to try and see Mrs Sands. Peggy O'Hara whispered to her daughter, Elizabeth, in explanation that she was trying to see what a mother looked like who could stand by and let her son die.

They played the Last Post, rolled up the tricolour and gave it to Mrs Sands with the beret and the gloves. Owen Carron delivered the oration. He was tired - he had been up all night at Liam Og's house, writing it - but he said the required things, ending with the declaration: 'Bobby Sands, your sacrifice will not be in vain.' The coffin was laid in the grave. The family took turns shoveling in a symbolic clump of earth. Gerard had to be helped with the heavy spade.

The Secretary of State marked the day with a statement defending the Government against the charge of inflexibility. 'Is murder any less murder because the person responsible claims he had a political motive?' he asked. 'The answer is no,' he said.

The army's Spearhead battalion, on stand-by in Britain for emergencies, flew into the Province.

In Dublin there was a knock at the door of Garret FitzGerald's home. Mrs FitzGeraid opened it and saw a beggarman. English newspapers said the beggar was a gunman dressed in paramilitary uniform, come to assassinate Garret for criticizing the IRA.

Inside the Kesh, after the dinner dishes had been cleared away and the warders had started the night watch, McFarlane called down the corridor: 'Parade, fall in!' Behind the steel doors bare feet stamped to attention. 'Stand easy!' Jake Jackson had been working on the oration since the day before. Now he started reading from the four sheets of toilet paper he had used to write it on: 'Comrades, we are gathered here to commemorate the death of a friend and a comrade and a great Irishman . . .'


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