The words spoken by Sinn Fein Councillor Charlene OHara after a Bobby Sands memorial was damaged in Twinbrook, Belfast at the weekend.
A fair assumption? I suspect that many would disagree.
I also suspect that many nationalists would take issue with her reference to him being ‘one of the greatest Irishmen that ever lived’ too.
Whilst someone taking their own life is shocking and disturbing, the use and abuse by Sinn Fein of this man is incredible. Particularly after accusations from former Sinn Fein/Provisional IRA activist and prisioner Richard O’Rawe (see claims cited here and here) that the Hunger Strikes could have been ended earlier, but that the prisoners were overruled due to a by-election following Sand’s death.
O’Rawe’s claims were however denounced by leading republicans, including IRA commander, Brendan McFarlane, senior Sinn Fein strategist Jim Gibney and former Sinn Fein press officer Danny Morrison. (See here for more info)
Politically I have always wondered that if the hunger strikes didn’t happen, would Sinn Fein have grown so fast or at all?
The hunger strikes are an important point of history recall for the modern day republican movement.
Recently we have seen Colin Duffy and others who were in custody over the murders of the soldiers at Antrim stage a hunger strike. We may now see Duffy (off hunger strike now and on remand, in prison, charged with murder) stand for a Euro seat on June 4th.