The Birth of a Republican
From a nationalist ghetto to the battlefield of H-Block
by Bobby Sands, MP
The H-Blocks became battlefields in which the Republican spirit of resistance met head-on all the inhumanities that Britain could perpetrate. Inevitably the lid of silence on the H-Blocks blew sky high, revealing the atrocities inside.
The battlefield became worse: our cells turning into disease-infested tombs with piles of decaying rubbish, and maggots, fleas and flies becoming rampant. The continual nauseating stench of urine and the stink of our bodies and cells made our surroundings resemble a pig-sty. The screws, keeping up the incessant torture, hosed us down, sprayed us with strong disinfectant, ransacked our cells, forcibly bathed us and tortured us to the brink of insanity. Blood and tears fell upon the battlefield - all of it ours. But we refused to yield.
The republican spirit prevailed and as I sit here in the same conditions and the continuing torture in H-Block 5, I am proud, although physically and wrecked, mentally exhausted, and scarred deep with hatred and anger. I am proud became my comrades and I have met, fought and repelled a monster, and we will continue to do so. We will never allow ourselves to be criminalised, nor our people either. Grief-stricken and oppressed, the men and women of no property have risen.
A risen, people marching, in thousands on the streets in defiance and rage at the imperial oppressor, the mass murderer and torturer. The spirit of Irish freedom is in every single one of them - and I am really people. Last week, I had a visit from my wife, standing by me to end as ever. She barely recognised me in my present condition and in tears she told me of the death of my dead mother - God help her, how she suffered.
I sat in tears as my wife told me how my mother marched in her blanket, along with thousands, for her song and his comrades, and for Ireland's freedom. When the screws came to tell me that I was not getting out on compassionate parole for my mother's funeral, I sat on the floor in the corner of my cell and I thought of her in heaven, shaking her fist in her typical defiance and rage at the merciless oppressors of her country.
I thought, too, of the young ones growing up now in a war-torn situation, and, like my own daughter, without peace, without a future, and under British oppression. Growing up to end up in Crumlin Road Jail, Castlereagh, barbed wire cages, Armagh Prison and Hell-Blocks. Having reflected on my own past I know this well occur unless our country is rid of the perennial oppressor, Britain. And I am ready to go out and destroy those who have made my people suffer so much and so long.
I was only a working class boy from a nationalist ghetto, but it is repression that creates the revolutionary spirit of freedom. I shall not settle until I achieve the liberation of my country, until Ireland becomes a sovereign independence socialist republic. We, the risen people, shall turn tragedy, into triumph. We shall bear forth a nation!