God bless you Bobby Sands
Rest in PeaceMy Brother Bobby
by Bernadette Sands
An Phoblacht/Republican News
May 9th, 1981
As the health of twenty-seven year old H-Block hunger striker Bobby Sands steadily deteriorated through the last days of his life, the distraught features of his mother, Rosaleen, aged 57, and his twenty six year old sister Marcella, appeared increasingly regularly on television screens and newspaper front pages, North and South.
Meanwhile, away from the spotlight of publicity, Bobby's father, John, aged 57 and his twenty two year old sister Bernadette, and his eighteen year old brother John, also very much felt the strain of Bobby's deteriorating condition.
Last weekend, with Bobby entering a coma on the verge of his death on Monday night, AP/RN reporter Peter Hayes spoke to his sister Bernadette about her tremendous respect for Bobby and about their childhood and youth, especially the trauma of loyalist intimidation twice leading to the Sands family being forced to move home in Belfast.
Twenty two year old Bernadette Sands, who both looks like her brother Bobby and displays similar characteristics of personal strength and determination, fully supported his decision to go on hunger strike in the H-Blocks of Long Kesh. She stated last weekend:"I have been behind him all the way. I don't think it was a decision that he just made off the top of his head. I think he weighed everything up, and he knew the consequences. Also, I feel that after four and a half years on the blanket protest, and the prisoners having tried every other possible way, that the only alternative was the hungerstrike."
Bobby Sands, who's twenty seventh birthday fall ont he ninth day of his sixty six day hungerstrike to the death, was born in MArch 1954. His sisters, Marcella, one year younger, and Bernadette, were born in April 1955 and November 1958, respectively. All three lived their early years at Abbots Cross in the predominantly Protestant Newtownabbey district of north Belfast.
A second son, John, now aged 18, was born to their parents, John and Rosaleen, now both aged 57, in June 1962. That was the year after the Catholic family had been forced to move home owing to loyalists intimidation during the dying embers of the IRA's ill fated border campaign.
Bernie Sands recalled: "Most of the people who lived in the the row of houses we lived in in Abbots Cross, seemed to be in the police of B Specials. It would be around 1961, I was just a baby at the time, but I can often remember my mother telling me about it. Everyone took my mother to be a Protestant because she was so quiet, she didn't bother with the neighbours.
"But when they found out that we were Catholics, one of the neighbours started hammering on the walls. And, when my mother went out to hang out the washing on the line, that neighbour went out and put exactly similar clothes on her line. If my mother cleaned her windows this women did exactly the same, and she would be sneering down at my mother. It got so bad that my mother took Bobby, Marcella and myself out for walks during the day to try to get away from the strain.
"She would tell my father about the banging, and the carry on, but when he came in from work (he worked as a baker) the banging would stop. Well, eventually my mother took sick, and went into hospital, and the doctor told my father either to take the neighbours to court or to give up the house, because my mother was going through torture. So my parents being so quiet, and not wanting to bother anybody, they gave up the house. So for about six months we have to live with different aunts, until we got a house in Doonbeg Drive in Rathcoole, to which we moved in December '61."
(**MORE of this article tomorrow)Links:Collection of Bobby Sands Net ResourcesBobby Sands @ Ireland's OwnBobby Sands TrustDiary of Bobby SandsOther Related Information:http://www.irishhungerstrike.comhttp://www.geocities.com/unrepentant1916/freedoms_hunger.htmlhttp://irelandsown.net/hungerstrikes.htmlhttp://www.inac.org/irishhistory/hungerstrikes/chapters/1(*More on Bobby tomorrow)