The Funeral of Bobby Sands
9th May 1981
A chairde, a muintir na hEireann, is mor an bhron ata orainn go lear an la inniu is muid inor seasamh ag an uaigh seo. Maraiodh Bobby sands ag na Sasanagh.
Irishmen and women, it is hard to describe the sadness and sorrow in our hearts today as we stand at the grave of Volunteer Bobby Sands, cruelly murdered by the British government in the H-Blocks of Long Kesh. Four weeks ago to this very day, the people of Fermanagh and South Tyrone, on behalf of the whole Irish nation, elected Bobby Sands as their MP, and I was very happy to accept victory on his behalf. Many people had high hops of saving Bobby's life and little did I think that in one short month we would all be standing at his graveside.
Bobby has gone to join the ranks of Ireland's patriotic dead. I have no doubt that the name of Bobby sands will mark a watershed in Irish history and will be a turning point in the struggle for Irish freedom. Bobby Sands as the bravest man I ever met. He faced death calmly and with confidence. Indeed, Bobby Sands is a hero and I would like first of all to express on behalf of the Republican Movement our sincere sympathy to his family and to pay tribute to them for standing by him courageously to the end. Someone once said it is hard to be a hero's mother and nobody knows that better than Mrs. Sands who watched her son being daily crucified and tortured for sixty-six long days and eventually killed. Mrs. Sands epitomises the Irish mothers who in every generation watched their children go out to fight and die for freedom.
Despite the vilifications and slanders of some guttersniper media and despite the hypocrisy of scribes and pharisees of high churchmen and establishment politicians who condemned him, Bobby Sands will be remembered by freedom loving people throughout the world as freedom fighter out the world as a freedom fighter and a political prisoner hungering for justice. As he wrote himself: "Of course I can be murdered, but I remain what I am, a political POW and no-one (not even the British) can change that."
I never knew Bobby Sands until March 31st, 1981, which was also the thirty first day of his hunger strike. Added together all my visits were but a few short hours, but still I believe that I got to know his heart and mind. Bobby was just my own age with many hopes and ambitions to fulfill.
Although he left school and an early age, it was obvious that he was an intelligent person, who through a process of self-education had advanced his learning. He became fluent in the Gaelic language and was enthusiastic about his native culture. His determination and resolve were remarkable and his commitment and dedication total and without compromise. Always evident was his sincerity and compassion despite his own situation. Even his enemies would agree there was no hatred in him.
Bobby Sands was a very ordinary young man from this city, who through a process of events, became politically educated and at eighteen decided he no longer would accept the injustice of a partitioned Ireland with all its inherent evils. No longer could he accept second class citizenship in his own country. So he joined the IRA and embarked on a life of hardship and suffering and in the end made the supreme sacrifice of his life for the cause he believed in.
(*Last part of the speech tomorrow.)