Sinn Féin decommission “Booby Sands” leaflet

Sinn Féin's 2016 Booby Sands Leaflet

As the BBC Trending report notes

As unfortunate typos go it could have hardly been worse.

The Republic of Ireland is currently a few days into a general election campaign that is taking place amid the backdrop of the hundredth anniversary of the Easter 1916 rising.

In one campaign leaflet, Mary Lou McDonald, the deputy leader of Sinn Fein – the fourth-biggest party in the last Irish parliament – wanted to be quoted invoking the spirit of one of the figureheads of the Irish Republican movement, Bobby Sands, the IRA hunger striker who starved himself to death in the Maze Prison in Northern Ireland in 1981.

However, somewhere along the way Bobby became Booby and nobody noticed until the leaflets were printed and were starting to be distributed. Not surprisingly the error has caused some amusement and awful punning on social media. [added emphasis]

Interestingly though, the Irish News this morning reported Sinn Féin’s initial reaction to Mary Lou McDonald’s “Booby Sands” leaflet.  And it wasn’t an apology for the typo…

A spokesman for Sinn Féin claimed on Sunday that the the images of the leaflet were “totally false” and had been altered by opponents of the party.

But by the time the BBC Trending report was written the party’s position had changed been clarified…

A Sinn Fein spokesperson told BBC Trending: “The leaflet was commissioned and printed by a local area [printers]. It contained a typo that should never have been printed or distributed. The leaflet has been withdrawn.

That “printers” may be a BBC invention.  The Sinn Féin spokesperson could have been referring to a local area party organisation having commissioned and printed the leaflet rather than the party centrally.  ANYhoo…

Meanwhile, on Twitter, the laughter [of our children? – Ed] continues.

 

Adds Today’s Irish News [9th Feb] has the uncorrected quote from the Sinn Féin spokesman

“The leaflet was commissioned and printed by a local area, rather than centrally,” he said.

“It contained a typo that should have prevented it from being printed or distributed. The leaflet has since been withdrawn.”

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  • mickfealty

    You just wouldn’t let it lie…

  • What caught my attention in the end was the difference between the Sinn Féin spokesperson’s quote in the Irish News, and the one in the BBC Trending report.

  • John

    Typical of Sinn Fein to initially blame everybody else before telling the truth when it was obvious to all that they were bullish!tting. They are unreal. No shame.

  • mickfealty

    As someone who makes more than his own fair share typos, I have some considerable sympathies…

  • Having edited and published a couple of books for a local community organisation I have zero sympathy.

    Proof-reading is all about attention to detail.

    And that was a howler.

    But, again, it’s the change in the party’s response that caught my interest in the end.

  • Barneyt

    Maybe it was written by someone with a Hollywood accent?

  • Nevin
  • Why does the BBC feel the need to amend the quote? Is it sparing the blush of SF in the blame? Would expect the BBC to provide a more factual report, but perhaps not so much online.

  • chrisjones2

    So they lied then were caught and forced to tell the truth

    …a bit like most of their policy areas

    But was Booby wrong?

    After all a Booby is a naiive fool …..and many may now think that Bobby was a Booby to give up his life for this

  • Roy Reilly-Robertson

    Mick I make howlers when I am typing BUT when I am typing for sending a letter or doing a bit for a leaflet, I always have it proof read by someone else to check for howlers. Most especially if I am wanting something to be printed for distribution. For leaflets you MUST check to ensure that what you have written and double checked already has come back and the printer has made no mistake. Any political party that does not give voters that much respect has lost the run of themselves. But then many would already have that view of SF.

  • Granni Trixie

    You have to feel sorry for Bobby Sands: in jail when he was 19 then died in jail at 27. Why did he throw his life away?

  • Robin Keogh

    More publicity for SF in the run up to the election, no harm.

  • You just keep telling yourself that, Robin…

  • Jollyraj

    Quite telling that nobody noticed such a glaring error for so long. It seems yer average common or garden Shinner is supremely ill-equipped in looking at what the leadership says or does with a critical eye.

  • Jollyraj

    It seems the result was wealth and power for a select few at the top of the Republican tree.

  • Jollyraj

    Pity for them, really, that the publicity in effect demonstrates that they can’t be trusted to organize an election poster, much less a small country.

    I’d have thought the grass roots would be disappointed to see how little the leadership really, truly care about the people they used as they manouvred their way to power and privilege.

  • SeaanUiNeill

    Chris, there’s quite a difference between giving ones life for something that is meaningful and significant, and the uses that may be made of your action by those who come later. I’ve occasionally commented on the uses made by certain local political interests of commemorations for those who fought in two world wars, and the interesting (for me) question of how the immediate ancestors of the politicians of today acted at the time.

    I cannot imagine Bobby Sands feeling that where we are today is something worth dying for, but I’d be pretty sure that many who died from the wee six between 1915-1918 or in the next war would feel their hearts lifted by the politicians of the DUP. One should not disrespect a person’s sincerity by holding up the reprensible actions of others who employ their memory without subscribing to the same vision.

  • murdockp

    I don’t think any flag is worth dying for however values is a different matter.

  • Robin Keogh

    The bigger we get the harder it is to be perfect

  • Robin Keogh

    I will, and many thanks for providing it

  • Reader

    On the basis that “all publicity is good publicity”, Wicklow branches of SF are working on a good meme based on Francis Hughes.
    You know that there will be bar fights in Belfast this weekend? New songs at football matches? A permanent new wind-up gambit? The ghost of Sands will indeed hear the laughter of the children.
    So how many extra votes are you expecting?

  • SeaanUiNeill

    I’d agree about simplistic flag issues, but I think that there are things, what you may call values, which I’d die for. To think nothing is worth a life would be to open our world to domination by the Stalins, Hitlers and Pol Pots.

    Back in the 1950/60s I used to encounter my grandfather’s friends, some of whom had fought in the 1914/18 war. They were hard headed no nonsence ex-officers with a hard moral backbone, most of them entirely cynical about the uses that politicians had and did make of their culture, but not in any way of that culture itself. Perhaps look up F.R.A. Hynds as an example of this. Yes, values!

  • Nordie Northsider

    Pete’s right as always. It’s devastating stuff. I’d say SF will lose, oh, tens of thousands of votes as a result of Boobygate.

  • Acrobat_747

    He made a dreadful mistake. He could be enjoying life even now.

    If something is worth dying for surely it can’t be as good as something worth living for.

  • Acrobat_747

    This will cost votes. Not many, but a few. The SF reaction might cost a few more. Not many either, but still a few.

  • Robin Keogh

    I think you have a pretty poor grasp of the real issues that motivate voters tbh. I find the whole thing quite amusing. I am sure bobby is smiling down on us all and getting quite entertained by how little it takes to get opponents of the party all shook up.

  • T.E.Lawrence

    I always felt that the book Blanketmen written by Richard O’Rawe the PIRA Press Officer in H Blocks in 1981 sheds a much bigger light on the truth regarding the further deaths and scarifice of Hunger Strikers after Bobby Sands death. It is also interesting that his book and himself received a full blooded verbal and demonised attack from the Provo Leadership ? Well worth a read for any person interested on the subject.

  • SeaanUiNeill

    Thank you T.E. I will have a look. I’ve always differentuated between actions by genuine idealists and the uses made of these actions by their leaders. Same as I’d not think of Lloyd George, who almost lost the Great War with his poor understanding of military matters mixed with his habitual populism, alongside those who were in the trenches and did the job.

    Not that I don’t understand and approve the pragmatic actions of people like Brendan Hughes who recognised in the response of Thatcher that the Hunnger Strike would not achieve those actual aims he started the strike for, and opposed Bobby Sands’ continuation of the strike entirely from a “military” rather than a propaganda assessment of its value. Only politicians “win” such things, and also frequently avoid any actual suffering in the process.

    My grandfather, who was on the Western Front in 1917, had met Thomas Ashe who died on hunger strike that year. They were both excited about the revival of the Irish War Pipes. That he could speak of Ashe’s courage when I was a child was a most important corrective to any black and white assumptions I might have entertained! But he had no good words for the politicians.

  • SeaanUiNeill

    Sometimes those things worth living for are only there for us because someone else has died in order that they may continue to be there.

  • Jollyraj

    Sometimes. But that doesn’t apply to Sands by any manner or means. After all, his death only served to further the cause of securing wealth and personal power for a handful of senior Shinners.

  • SeaanUiNeill

    No, you are talking about those people using his action for their own political advantage nowadays. His own motives and intentions in what he did to the extent that they are moral choice should elicit respect on their own terms, not those imposed upon them by others. You are conflating the use a movement makes of an action by an individual, with the meaning and value that individual places on that action.

    To follow your reasoning, all that courage shown by individuals in the Great war, for example, would be pointless in the light of how cynical financial interests have used what they did simply for profit. This may work for you if you are simply trying to score political points, but if you are able to recognise that there is great deal more in any genuinely committed human being, then it starts looking paper thin. Check out my comments on Thomas Ashe below, perhaps.

  • T.E.Lawrence

    I have a different opinion of Brendan Hughes and the previous hunger strike in 1980 before Bobby Sands in 1981. I believe if he could have changed places with his dying comrade Sean McKenna, who he had promised he would not let die, he would have and sacrificed his own life as like you say I also believed that he was a genuine idealist.
    I also remember a good Loyalist friend who was most disappointed to be taken off a hunger strike at Crumlin Road Prison along with Republican Prisoners back in 1972 both fighting for political status rights equal to the prisoners in Long Kesh. As he walked off the wing every republican prisoner stood and gave him a standing ovation !

  • SeaanUiNeill

    I bought a claw foot bath tub of Brendan at one point after the GFA took hold, T.E. It’s always interesting to meet someone you have only read about before and to get all those things that show where actions and character converge. I found him interestingly funny about the troubles, wearing his sincerity without any affectation. But yes, true sincerity.

    But I’ve also met Sands family members who when I spoke with them also suggest an equal sincerity in Bobby and his actions. I’m far more interested in those areas that we may all meet over, usually in the face of extreme situations, rather than what may simply divide us. Thank you for the story of the ovation. I think the real evil is done by those who love nothing and may cynically use what others have done, rather than by those who have genuine values. I mention Major Bob Hynds below. He was a ranker who was promoted on merit, and was highly decorated in the last war. When asked why he did not go to a lot of “Black Tie” functions post-war, he used to say, they were full of people, “his betters” who had not fought, so he’d have no stories to swop. You’ll get the deeper implication……

  • Adds Today’s Irish News [9th Feb] has the uncorrected quote from the Sinn Féin spokesman

    “The leaflet was commissioned and printed by a local area, rather than centrally,” he said.

    “It contained a typo that should have prevented it from being printed or distributed. The leaflet has since been withdrawn.”

  • Jollyraj

    You are right in that it is a morally tricky subject, but your comparison with soldiers dying in WWI simply doesn’t work. You are as entitled to your opinion of BS as I am to mine. Personally I would have no more respect for his actions than today’s Islamic fundamentalist suicide bombers. About an equivalent.

  • chrisjones2

    Would that be Frank Hughes the child killer?

  • chrisjones2

    Dont you mean smiling up at us?

  • chrisjones2

    “something that is meaningful and significant”

    Exactly. Stormont?

  • SeaanUiNeill

    Chris, the SF politicians used Bobby Sands death for their own ends, this is different to what he himself was doing or what he might have wished. Do you really think that if he had seen in some phantasmagoric local version of “It’s a Wonderful Life” the blessings of a local assembly that we all enjoy today, he’d have chosen that as a desirable end himself? Really?

    The integrity of a United Ireland could be considered as that “something that is meaningful and significant” that he was dying for, and it was certainly a meaningful and significant thing to him. He’d probably not thank me for quoting Kipling, but its what springs to mind:

    “If you can bear to hear the truth you’ve spoken
    Twisted by knaves to make a trap for fools,
    Or watch the things you gave your life to, broken,”

    But you do a courageous man who was willing to give his young life up for something a gross disservice to imagine that what he was dying for was anything like Stormont……

  • SeaanUiNeill

    If my grandfather on the Western Front believed Thomas Ashe, a perfectly comparable figure to Bobby Sands, a courageous and idealistic man in 1917, that’s good enough for me. Check my comments on this below. The degree to which one can discriminate between men of honest intention and rogues measures maturity to my mind. The rogues are certainly not confined to any one faction in the wee six, but neither are the honest men, and this is not a football match where the scoring of goals offers a simple measure of meaning, but as you say a “morally tricky subject” without black and white hats to help us.

  • Jollyraj

    Bigger ….as measured by the bank balances of the leaders? I’d hazard a guess that Sf are now the richest political party in either NI or Ireland.

  • chrisjones2

    I dont …he was conned as were the others and especially the ones not told of the deal on offer

  • Reader

    Robin Keogh: I am sure bobby is smiling down on us all…
    Can people change their minds after they are dead? Since he died for the Provo cause of achieving a United Ireland by force; he probably hasn’t smiled since the Good Friday Agreement.

  • Reader

    Jollyraj: Personally I would have no more respect for his actions than today’s Islamic fundamentalist suicide bombers.
    I come from the community that hadn’t been indoctrinated as children into the meme of the Holy Martyrs. And, as a result, I was utterly baffled for decades by the wholesale nationalist hysteria over the hunger strikes – even from people who had no respect for the violent means of the PIRA, or who sought a different sort of United Ireland.
    In return, they can look in horror on my view that Sands was a stupid man, veteran of successive failed missions and prison sentences, who was offered a chance for glory by people vastly more intelligent and cynical than himself.
    Then, after the horror passes, they might silently agree.

  • Robin Keogh

    And if he was alive he might well be head of your government

  • Granni Trixie

    “Should elicit respect”? By that logic you ought to have respect for suicide – somethng which ought to evoke sympathy as usually it reflects a lack of good mental health.

  • SeaanUiNeill

    Granni, while I’m quite aware of what you are saying with this, I’m afraid I have a rather different approach to suicide. People commit suicide under great pressure, and of those I have known who have killed themselves, the greater number were making rational choices in impossible situations. One person I knew killed himself in adolescence under pressure from a financial scandal his father’s louche approach to other people’s money created. The boy referenced “Private Eye” in particular as creating an impossible situation for him to continue living with. Two others killed themselves later in life, one recently, after long years of attempting to live with “elite” sexual abuse. Both instanced their experiences as rape, and the ease with which their attempts to seek some redress were easily silenced and their families turned against them created an ongoing victimisation that their attempts to create lives floundered over. While both suffered from chronic depression, but their sanity was unquestioned to my mind, and the creative work of both was an expression of this. I knew them through long years of attempting to deal with social stigma (for mentioning names of important people, an unforgivable crime in our class) and an utter misunderstanding of their experiences by most of those they met and spoke to about these things. That they strived to live as long as they did in the face of an uncaring society who frequently lauded their abusers in the public media, bringing their experiences into their lives constantly, elicits every respect for me, and the logic of their suicide was also completely clear to me.

    In Japan its long been seen as a natural reaction to any situation where one may be powerless to find redress for a wrong to take ones own life in order to draw attention to injustice. The Christian approach to suicide has coloured our own inherited reactions to such actions, but before Christianity suicide was viewed by the Classical world as an option in terrible situations. I’d be reluctant to consider Brutus, that great symbol of resistance to tyranny even at the expense of ones own personal bonds of friendship, as lacking mental health or as someone deserving sympathy rather than respect!

    As I’ve said above, giving ones life for something needs evaluation on the insider terms on which that life is given, not on some mechanical code of external rules. Each death in situations such as these must be gaged on its own merits, and must not be conflated with the quite different uses others may have made of such idealism. I watch your usual postings with strong agreement and considerable personal respect, but in this case I feel you are simplifying a rather complex thing, although I’d imagine this was from the best of motives.

  • SeaanUiNeill

    As I’ve said elsewhere here, I’d be inclined to side with Brendan Hughes on this one, but this still does not negate the significance of Sands’ own private motivation, Chris…..

  • Granni Trixie

    Seann
    I appreciate your expansion on the topic ( and the compliment!) always willing to learn. What you say brings to mind that suicide is like other moral problems such as abortion – our views are influenced more from experiences rather than abstract learning From books.

    Mine are based on two people I know well who attempted suicide several times. In each case – as in the ones you refer to – they were living with v difficult circumstances so you could say cause and effect were it not that you ha e to factor in their capacity and resilience in the face of stress etc. Someone else I know who left evidence of suicide but whose body has never been found is a puzzle to everyone as they appeared to have w everything going well for them …except that they were having treatment for depression. Which is why I conclude it was their mental health was the problem rather than circumstances.

    I’m sure suicude prevention groups are best placed to have an informed overview.

    As regards Bobby Sands. Sadly he is buried near my sons grave. Ones life was time limited by choice one not. In 1981 I simply could not comprehend why mothers in particular did not insist on taking their sons off their fasts. Judgmental I know but I still feel the same.

    I am not sayng this for sympathy but to reinforce my original point that experience informs our views on the topic of suicide …..adding that listening to others experience of suicide expands what we know. So you have given me food for thought.

  • SeaanUiNeill

    Thank you Granni, for a fine and thoughtful response. All too often people are simply trying to score points, and it is always refreshing to actually be discussing these issues with someone who understands that they have real human beings involved.

    A digression. My grandfather was a friend of Ronnie Bunting Sr, and this had serious repercussions when he started his Friedkorps activities in the late 1960s as I was in the PD (and chummy before with the old NI Labour Party YS that instigated the PD). Bunting knew me well and knew now I was an Arch-Lundy. But in this I also knew Ronnie Jr, who was just a year or so older than me. As a pacifist I found his commitment to violence a serious problem, but grieved at his killing and recognised his fathers grief, remembering less polarised times when politics were for discussion in the4 family circle and not tied up utterly in unnecessary death and destruction. Like you, I cannot imagine accepting my own child starving themselves to death, but I can still see that such a thing might be chosen by them not simply from either mental illness or from some simplistic fanaticism, but out of a great love for something they have given their lives to. I’d feel with Gandhi that there are other, better ways to serve an ideal, but still admire the quality of the spiritual journey of a person to reach such a point. I know some members of the Sands family and have gained the impression that his act was such an action in his mind. Its that recognition of something worth such an act that I honour, even if I feel that there are other, better ways that I’d prefer that he might have chosen. As I said above, I’m far more with Brendan Hughes in his assessment possibilities of the hunger strike.

    The violence here in the wee six has always to my mind been an utter misdirection, but I learnt to not dismiss the quality of self-sacrifice from some of the old soldiers I met in my home as a child, and feel that Bobby Sands falls into this category alongside Ashe and others. But you too have given me food for thought, and must admit I cannot be less than doublé about it myself.

  • John Collins

    Jolyraj
    Would those men in the trenches in WW1 have given their lives so freely in ‘the war to end all wars’ if they knew that GB, the USA and France, at wars end, would place conditions on Germany, which almost certainly created the environment that led to the rise of Nazism? Few wars, even those conducted by huge countries, achieve what they aim for.

  • Jollyraj

    I’m sorry, I’m not clear on what point you are trying to make. One might as well ask whether Irish Republicans would still have sought to forge an alliance with Hitler if they had known how hostile would history’s view of him be.

  • John Collins

    Thanks Jollyraj
    You have very eloquently made my point for me. GB committed their young men to WW2 because Poland had been attacked by Hitler. Was Poland ‘free’ at the end of WW2?

  • Jollyraj

    Hmm… I’m not sure either of us have made your point for you since (characteristically) you still seem even now to be fumbling around trying to work out what your original point actually was.

  • John Collins

    Well Jollyraj
    As regards the Irish republic contact with Hitler well Ulster Unionists brought arms in from Germany (Hamburg) during the reign of the most anti British German Ruler of them all.
    The fact is, while I have no time for Sinn Fein or any other violent organisation, that if the people who declare war were sent into the thick of the action early in any conflict they started there would be very few wars indeed. Bobby Sands, and his friends, were not the only ones manipulated by their leaders.

  • John Collins

    Granni
    I refer to the person ‘who had everything going for them’. From experience gained in working in the MHS, over many years, I have long concluded that nobody,unless possibly those living with them, knows what is going on in somebody else’s life.