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August 06, 2006

Jack McKinney's '81 Hunger Strike Commentaries

Jack McKinney (aka Black Jack) was a committed
republican who died in 2002. He is greatly missed
by all that knew him. These are a series of articles
that he wrote at the time of the Hunger Strike.
Click his picture to go to a web site with more
info on Jack.

News About Ireland & The Irish

DN 04/30/81 2nd Hunger Striker May Die Before Sands
DN 05/01/81 British Official's Ploy May Spark A Bloodbath
DN 05/04/81 Death Watch Nears Conclusion
DN 05/05/81 Final Wish: An IRA Funeral
DN 05/06/81 Belfast Media Blitz Worries The British
DN 05/07/81 The Remains Stun A British Visitor
DN 05/08/81 British Discount Irish Mourners
DN 05/11/81 A War Both Too Far And Too Close
DN 05/13/81 Hughes Got Even Peerless, Fearless Fighter
DN 06/01/81 Justice, Belfast Style Sweethearts Of British


(ADVISORY NOTE: This is *archival* material. This was
first published 25 years ago!)


Thursday, April 30, 1981 Page: 5
By Jack McKinney

BELFAST, Northern Ireland - The death watch for Bobby Sands
continues, but now there is the ironic possibility that
Sands may not be the first man to die on a hunger strike in
Northern Ireland's Long Kesh Prison Camp.

The condition of a fellow hunger striker named Francie
Hughes has been deteriorating so rapidly, it was learned
yesterday, that Hughes conceivably could die before Sands.

Sands, the 27-year-old Irish Republican prisoner who three
weeks ago became an international figure by being elected
to the British Parliament without leaving his cellblock, is
in his 61st day of total fasting. He has vowed to die of
starvation unless British grants de facto political status
to him and to nearly 400 other Republican prisoners in the
so-called H-Blocks of Long Kesh.

HUGHES, 26, of South Derry, is one of three other prisoners
who have been fasting for the same demands. Hughes began
his hunger strike on March 15, two weeks after Sands;
Raymond McCreesh, of South Armagh, and Patsy O'Hara, of
Derry City, joined the fast on March 22.

While world attention focused on Sands following his
astonishing election victory, the names of Hughes, McCreesh
and O'Hara remained in relative obscurity.

But that situation changed yesterday when it was learned
that Hughes, like Sands, is perilously close to a final,
fatal coma.

“We should have expected this," admitted veteran Belfast
Republican Jimmy Drumm. “Bobby Sands was relatively fit
when he was sentenced to 14 years for possession of a
handgun . But Francie Hughes was in poor condition when he
went in."

In fact, Hughes had been critically wounded in a gun battle
with a member of Britain's clandestine Special Air Services
(SAS). He suffered eight bullet wounds and was hospitalized
for six months before he finally was sent to a cell in one
of the H-Blocks.

WHEN HUGHES' FATHER visited his son yesterday he found him
suffering the same advanced symptoms that have gripped
Sands since last weekend, when Sands first was reported
close to death.

“My son was going through periods when he wasn't coherent,"
Oliver Hughes told Drumm. “His eyesight was going and every
time he tried to sip a drink of water, he would vomit it
back up. The doctor told me Francie is no more than three
days behind Bobby and failing fast."

Hughes also was visited yesterday by Msgr. John Magee,
personal secretary to Pope John Paul II. Father Magee, who
was born near Newry in Northern Ireland's County Down, has
spent an hour with Sands the previous day in a vain attempt
to resolve the hunger strike.

Although he declined to comment publicly, the papal
emissary reportedly asked Sands if there was “any middle
ground of compromise" he could pursue with Britain's
Northern Ireland Secretary Humphrey Atkins. Sands was said
to have stated emphatically that there could be no
compromise short of the prisoners' five demands, which are:

* The right to wear their own clothing.

* The right to be excluded from menial prison work.

* The right to associate with other Republican prisoners.

* The right to receive one letter and one visitor a week.

* Full restoration of the standard remission time for good

Early yesterday, Magee then called on Atkins, who
reiterated that his government is not interested in
“negotiating" an end to the hunger strike.

HAVING FAILED to budge either of the major parties to the
standoff, Magee finally tried to prevail on Hughes,
McCreesh and O'Hara to end their fasts, but again he

Meanwhile, as Bobby Sands lay on a sheepskin rug to ease
the pain to a body that has been reduced virtually to skin
and bones, leading British medical authorities gave
assurances that there would be no attempt to force- feed

Dr. Michael Thomas, chairman of the British Medical
Association ethics committee, cited the “Tokyo Declaration"
of the World Medical Association, which was accepted by the
British medical profession in 1975.

The guidelines of that declaration state:

“Where a prisoner refuses nourishment and is considered by
the doctor as capable of forming an unimpaired and rational
judgment concerning the consequences of such a voluntary
refusal of nourishment, he or she shall not be fed

According to the guidelines, the prisoner's capacity for
“unimpaired and rational judgment" is based on his state of
mind at the time when he begins the hunger strike, not
after his faculties have been diminished by it.

SANDS AND HUGHES, of course, both have reached the stage
where their faculties obviously have been diminished.
Addressing himself to the Sands case, as the most advanced
(but barely), British medical writer John Stevenson noted:

“The critical factors in his massive physical
deterioration, in which his signs and hearing were the
first to fail, are the losses of vital vitamins and

“In recent days, deficiencies of vitamins B-1 and B-2 have
led to an accelerated breakdown in nerve tissues, causing
gradual paralysis of the central nervous system, with
mental confusion gradually descending into

ACCORDING TO a very reliable source, British medical
observers already had advised authorities here that Bobby
Sands can be expected to die sometime tomorrow or “by
Saturday at the latest."

Now there is the very real possibility that two coffins
could be coming out of Long Kesh before reason prevails,
and Northern Ireland is bracing itself for the predictably
terrible consequences.

-- 30 --

Columnist Jack McKinney, a veteran Daily News staffer, has
long been associated with the movement to end British rule
in Northern Ireland.

© Copyright 1996 Philadelphia Newspapers Incorporated.



Friday, May 1, 1981 Page: 3
By Jack McKinney

BELFAST, Northern Ireland - As if things have not been
tense enough here, it now appears that the most extreme
elements of Belfast's militant Loyalist population have
been given a license to commit wholesale arson. The lead
has not, as yow might expect, come from the Rev. Ian
Paisley, the fire-and-brimstone demagogue who has made a
lucrative career of setting the protestant majority against
the Catholic minority in Northern Ireland.

Rather, its author is none other than Humphrey Atkins, the
Secretary o State for Northern Ireland and the man in whose
“supreme" office the buck is supposed to stop, not start.

As the British-occupied Six Counties of Ulster teetered on
the brink of what many observers fear could be an all-out
civil war, Atkins went on national television last night to
deliver the most inflammatory message of incitement by a
senior British official since Lord Randolph Churchill
started the whole bloody Northern mess by trumpeting:

“ULSTER WILL FIGHT, and Ulster will be right!"

Churchill, the Tory leader of his day, was playing what he
himself describe s " the Orange card" when he encouraged
the Northern Loyalists to defy the democratically expressed
national aspirations of all the Irish, thus laying the
groundwork for the unnatural partition that has divided the
island of Ireland for more than 60 years.

Now Atkins, also a Tory, has reached for that same card by
publicly claiming knowledge of an Irish Republican Army
“plot" to evacuate an entire Catholic ghetto, burn it to
the ground, then place the blame on Protestant extremists.

According to Atkins, the IRA plans to torch East Belfast's
Short Strand district, a beleaguered pocket of fewer than
3,000 Catholics backed against the Lagan River and
surrounded on three other sides by more than 80,000

IT IS A ludicrous claim, totally without foundation and
astonishingly irresponsible. But for Atkins' purposes, it
is obviously a calculated ploy to take the British
government off the hook for whatever violence might erupt
after the death of Irish Republican hunger striker Bobby

The people of the Short Strand are a tough and fiercely
stubborn lot. Over the years, they have withstood periodic
pogroms with remarkable courage and pride of place, as
documented by historian Andrew Boyd in his widely acclaimed
book, “Holy War in Belfast."

In suggesting that such people could be coaxed or
intimidated into abandoning the very homes they have
defended for generations, Humphrey Atkin as demonstrated
his appalling ignorance of history.

But what is even more appalling is that there could be a
perverse twist o elf-fulfilling prophecy here. Atkins'
warning that the IRA plans to burn the Short Strand may now
be seen as an open invitation for one of the Loyalist
paramilitary groups - such as the Ulster Defense
Association (UDA) - to come in and burn it themselves.

And East Belfast just happens to be a major stronghold of
the UDA. I have spent the last three days touring the
Republican areas of Belfast. There in anger and frustration
over the imminent deaths of Bobby Sands and one of his
fellow hunger strikers, Francie Hughes. There is
apprehension over the prospect of violence in the wake of
their deaths.

But nowhere have I found any evidence the IRA is planning
retaliatory operations. On the contrary, IRA men have been
canvassing their districts, sternly warning neighborhood
youths not to engage in such random acts of provocation as
blocking traffic and hijacking commercial vehicles.

As a result, there has been a marked decrease in the number
of so-called mini-riots in the Catholic ghettoes of West

In last night's edition of An Phoblacht Republican News,
the official newspaper of the Republican Movement, there
appeared this front page plea under the banner headline,

“THROUGHOUT THE epic-making four and a half years of the H
Block and Armagh Prison struggle, the protesting prisoners
have conducted themselves with unwavering unity, dignity
and discipline.

“Whatever occurs in the coming days, as the H Block crisis
reaches a climax, with leading hunger striker Bobby Sands
hovering on the brink of death as we go to press, and with
fellow hunger striker Francie Hughes not far behind him,
Republicans and hunger strike campaigners should conduct
themselves likewise.

“Militant displays of righteous anger at British
inflexibility and inhumanity should be directed solely at
the British forces of occupation, and popular wrath should
not be diverted into useless acts of adventurism. Massive
peaceful protests are needed.

“In the words of American Jesuit Priest Father Daniel
Berrigan, speaking at ally outside the Bellaghy home of
Francie Hughes last weekend, the question is whether we can
match the sacrifice of the prisoners and whether we can
translate it a way which is going to be politically and
humanly useful outside."

BUT WHILE THE IRA thus has been attempting to cool
passions, units of the UDA have been staging shows of
strength under the tolerant eyes of government security

On Tuesday night an estimated 1,500 uniformed and massed
UDA men sealed off sections of the Loyalist Shankill and
Woodvale districts of West Belfast.

There were similar scenes last night in many rural areas of
Northern Ireland, with UDA leaders publicly proclaiming
this was their way of warning Britain against granting any
concessions to the hunger-striking prisoners.

Humphrey Atkins has yet to mention any of the saber
rattling by the UDA.

But then Atkins has already shown which card he's playing.

-- 30 --

Columnist Jack McKinney, a veteran Daily News staffer, has
long been associated with the movement to end British rule
in Northern Ireland.

© Copyright 1996 Philadelphia Newspapers Incorporated.



Monday, May 4, 1981
Page: 3
By Jack McKinney

BELFAST, Northern Ireland - The death watch for Bobby Sands
entered its final tragic phase yesterday when the Irish
hunger striker lapsed into a deep coma, from which he was
given no chance to recover. Sands - a convicted member of
the Irish Republican Army and a recently elected member of
the British Parliament - is now in the 65th and probably
last day of a total fast.

He and three other hunger strikers have been seeking
political status for the Irish Republican prisoners held in
the so-called H-Blocks of Northern Ireland' Long Kesh
prison camp, 12 miles outside of Belfast.

When he began his hunger strike on March 1, Sands, 27, gave
both verbal and written instructions that there should be
no attempts to revive him with artificial stimuli or
intravenous feedings once he became comatose. Sands'

family has respected those wishes.

“IF IT WERE my choice to make, I would do anything to keep
my son alive, "Rosaleen Sands told a close family friend.
“But I can't go back on my word to Bobby - even though it's
breaking my heart."

“I want it remembered that Bobby died for the rights of his
fellow prisoners," his mother added. “I pray that death
will not provoke violence. I would not wish this grief on
any other mother."

As the Sands family maintained its bedside vigil in the
hospital wing of Long Kesh, more than 5,000 supporters
gathered in somber protest at the crossroads of the tiny
village of Toomebridge in County Antrim, some 25 miles
northwest of Belfast. They came from all parts of Northern
Ireland, many of them having experienced delays of up to an
hour at roadblocks manned by hundreds of heavily armed
police and military security forces.

While a British helicopter gunboat hovered noisily
overhead, former Member of Parliament Bernadette Devlin
McAliskey joined other speakers in urging that there be no
violence in the wake of Sands' death.

“BOBBY SANDS AND his fellow hunger strikers have conducted
themselves with dignity and discipline throughout this
terrible ordeal," she reminded the crowd. “We owe it to
them to follow their example."

The brother of another hunger striker, Francie Hughes, of
South Derry, told of seeing the emaciated Sands earlier in
the day after a visit to his own critically weak brother.

“When I looked through the open door of Bobby's room, I was
sickened by what I saw," said Oliver Hughes, a sandy-haired
man in his mid-30s.

“His eyelids were shut and sunken in their sockets, his
face little more than a skin-covered skull. I didn't see a
young man of 27 years. I saw a dying old man of 90."

The crowd also heard from Father Thomas McCreesh, brother
of hunger striker Raymond McCreesh, and from Owen Carron,
the young schoolteacher who served as campaign manager for
Sands during the prisoner's successful bid for the
Parliament seat representing the district of Fermanagh-
South Tyrone.

THE YOUNG PRIEST drew sustained applause when he declared,

“My brother Raymond is no criminal."

Carron disclosed that he had sent two telegrams over the
weekend to Charles Haughey, prime minister of the Republic
of Ireland, conveying Sands' final request that Haughey
appeal directly to British Prime Minister Margaret
Thatcher to end the hunger strike by granting the
prisoners' demands.

“Both telegrams were ignored," said Carron. “Let history
take note of Charley Haughey's silence as he takes his
rightful place in the graveyard of Irish politics."

The meeting concluded with still another plea for non-

“LET NO STONE be thrown in Toomebridge today," said steward
Patrick McAndrews as a file of his fellow stewards deployed
in front of the local police barracks to ensure that his
words would be heeded.

But this precaution proved to be unnecessary as the crowd
dispersed in solemn silence.

Meanwhile, despite repeated government warnings that the
IRA is planning a wave of military operations to follow
Sands' death, there was no evidence of any such plans on
the rain-lashed streets of Belfast.

On the contrary, IRA members are known to have canvassed
the nationalist neighborhoods, urging calm and restraint.
Street committees have been formed to discourage any hint
of disorderly behavior and plans have been made to evacuate
old people and children to relatively safe area n the event
of attack.

As for reports that the IRA has been stockpiling arms and
ammunition in the nationalist ghettoes, the only
stockpiling I have seen has been of canned good, powdered
milk, bandages and medicine. Hardly the material with which
to launch an attack.

But as one Republican leader told me:

“IT'S REALLY UP to the security forces now. If they keep a
low profile and avoid acts of deliberate provocation, we
might get through this period without major problems.

“The worst thing that could happen would be for them to
come storming into these areas to try to make what they
call pre-emptive arrests.

“If that were to happen, Belfast would become

-- 30 --

Columnist Jack McKinney, a veteran Daily News staffer, has
long been associated with the movement to end British rule
in Northern Ireland.

© Copyright 1996 Philadelphia Newspapers Incorporated.



Tuesday, May 5, 1981
Page: 3
By Jack McKinney

BELFAST, Northern Ireland - One hour and 17 minutes into
the 66th day o is total hunger strike, Bobby Sands, Member
of Parliament, died in the hospital wing of Long Kesh
prison camp.

“Bobby's last communication to us was a weak smile," said
his father, John Sands. “He began gasping for breath. Then,
he just stopped and we knew h as gone."

SANDS, 27, had been in a deep coma for 40 hours before that
final smile. He earlier had instructed his family not to
authorize any attempts by doctors to revive him once he
became comatose.

His mother, Rosaleen, sister, Marcella, and younger
brother, John, were with his father at his bedside when
Sands died at 8:17 p.m. EDT.

After returning to the family home in Twinbrook, a modest
housing project just outside of Belfast, Sands' mother sat
weeping on a parlor couch while her husband told a visiting
Republican leader that his son's last request was for a
full-dress, Irish Republican Army military funeral.

“I assured John that we'd respect the family's wishes if
they preferred a private funeral," said veteran Republican
Jimmy Drumm. “But he said Bobby specifically asked for a
full-dress military funeral."

Within an hour of the announcement of Sands' death by a
spokesman for the Northern Ireland Office, extensive
rioting erupted throughout nationalist sections of West

ONE OF THE AREAS hit hardest was Lower Falls Road, where
youths wearing makeshift masks hurled gasoline bombs and
acid bombs at police and British Army forces from behind
hastily erected barricades.

In what appeared to be a spontaneous action, young men in
their early- to mid-teens used hijacked road construction
vehicles and pneumatic drills to block the main arteries
with overturned trucks, huge paving stones and other

At about 4:30 a.m. (11:30 p.m. EDT), police and military
radios crackle with the orders that security forces should
fire rounds of live ammunition at youths perceived to be
throwing gasoline bombs.

AN HOUR LATER, a 14-year-old youth was wounded in the right
thigh when British troops opened fire on Dunville Park,
just below the junction of Falls and Grosvenor roads. He
was believed to have been the only gunshot victim during
the early morning rioting.

The youth, whose jeans were soaked with blood, was carried
from the park to a nearby house by six of his companions.
Later, as British troops advanced on the riot area, he was
moved by van to a local hospital by a French television

A short distance up the road, the Beechmount branch of the
Northern Bank was turned to the ground after being
bombarded with gasoline bombs. Elsewhere, there was serious
rioting in the districts of Ballymurphy, Turf Lodge, the
New Lodge Road and the Markets. It was reported,
erroneously, that security forces came under gunfire attack
in the bomb-scarred Markets district.

By 6:30 a.m. (1:30 a.m. EDT), troops in riot gear moved
into the riot are f the Lower Falls in armored personnel
carriers. As the troops entered the district, the young
rioters swiftly dispersed into the warrens of small side
streets that interlace the main road.

AS DAWN BROKE over Belfast, flames already had gutted at
least six buildings in West Belfast, including the Northern
Bank, a paper mill and a paint warehouse. There was also a
report that the new American-owned DeLorean auto factory
near Twin- brook had been firebombed. But as British
soldiers appeared to secure the original flashpoints, the
rioting spread to such outlying districts of Belfast as
Andersonstown, Lenadoon and the Upper Glen Road.

At about 7:30 a.m. (2:30 a.m. EDT), police were seen firing
carbines and service revolvers at a group of young stone
throwers just off the Andersonstown Road. There were no
apparent injuries.

By mid-morning, security forces claimed they had sealed off
West Belfast, an ere reporting the situation was under some
semblance of control but with "large crowds of youths still
on the streets."

-- 30 --

Columnist Jack McKinney, a veteran Daily News staffer, has
long been associated with the movement to end British rule
in Northern Ireland.

© Copyright 1996 Philadelphia Newspapers Incorporated.



Wednesday, May 6, 1981
Page: 3
By Jack McKinney

BELFAST, Northern Ireland - Public officials here appear to
have no problem wit he fact that 27-year-old Bobby Sands
starved himself to death in a vain attempt to gain better
conditions for his fellow Irish Republican prisoners in
Long Kesh prison camp. But what does sorely trouble them is
that the case attracted such an unprecedented volume of
international press attention before Sands finally expired
early yesterday morning on the 66th day of his total fast.

THE WAY SUCH Loyalist leaders as the Rev. Ian Paisley, and
Members of Parliament Harold McCusker and John Taylor see
it, Sands' terrible ordeal has, in Paisley's words, “a
cynical propaganda exercise, coldly calculated t in
sympathy for the Irish Republican Army and sully the good
name of Ulster in the eyes of the world press."

It is true that Sands' hunger strike attracted the largest
presence of foreign press in Irish history. Every hotel in
Belfast has been booked to capacity for more than a week,
with many media latecomers having to settle for “bed and
breakfast" accommodations in surrounding countryside.

But it's patently absurd to suggest all this was “coldly
calculated" by the IRA, when Sands refused Sunday breakfast
on March 1 and thereby began hi last "to the death."

Sands almost certainly would have died in relative
obscurity had it not bee or the sudden death in late March
of Frank McGuire, representative to the British Parliament
from the electoral district of Fermanagh- South Tyrone.

FOR FIVE YEARS, Britain's Northern Ireland Office had been
insisting there was no popular support for the campaign to
gain de facto political status for the Irish Republican
prisoners confined in the so-called H Blocks of Long Kesh
garrison camp and the Armagh Women's Jail.

But with the death of McGuire, the Republican movement was
presented wit he unexpected opportunity to prove that such
support did indeed exist. O arch 30, nomination papers in
Sands' name were filed by former MP Bernadette Devlin

In the space provided for " party affiliation," Sands was
listed as an

"anti-H-Block/Armagh Political Prisoner." Thus, the sole
objective of his candidacy was clearly and honestly
spelled out.

Only 10 days later, following the largest turnout in the
history of the constituency, Bobby Sands became an elected
member of the "Mother of Parliaments" without ever having
left the hospital wing of Long Kesh.

British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher could have
accepted this result as a popular mandate to grant the
demands of Sands and his fellow Republican Prisoners.
Instead, she remained adamant in her position that " a
crime is rime is a crime," and Sands' doom was sealed.

Despite their public attempts to picture Bobby Sands as a
duped victim of cynical propaganda exercise, British and
Northern Ireland authorities were fully familiar with the
long-established tradition of IRA hunger strikes.

THEY ARE ACTS of last resort and they are entirely
voluntary. No one can order a man to go on hunger strike
and, by the same token, no one can order an to abandon
such a protest against his wishes.

The only thing cynical here is the British claim that Sands
was sacrifice y the IRA because it desperately needed a

Sands made his decision to go on a hunger strike because he
was convinced the British had reneged on verbal promises
made to seven other prisoners last Dec. 18, when they were
persuaded to end a hunger strike that had lasted 53 days.

Although three other prisoners volunteered to go on the
hunger strike with him, Sands insisted on preceding them by
at least two weeks, arguing that adverse public reaction to
his own death might force England to capitulate in time to
save the other three.

Francie Hughes, 25, a legendary IRA figure from South
Derry, joined Sands o he hunger strike two weeks later. But
Hughes, who was seriously wounded in a gun battle and
hospitalized for six months before being imprisoned, has
failed so rapidly that it is feared he, too, could die
within hours (or certainly no more than a few days) of
Sands' funeral tomorrow.

THE TWO OTHER hunger strikers, both also only 25, are
Raymond McCreesh, of South Armagh, who was sentenced in
March 1977 to 14 years for his part in a gun battle with
British troops, and Patsy O'Hara, of Derry City, who is
doing eight years for possession of a single hand grenade.
McCreesh and O'Hara began their fasts a week after Hughes.

The prospect that Thatcher might choose to let all three
men die and b one with the problem has not been overlooked.
It was learned yesterday that 70 other prisoners from the
H- Blocks have volunteered to begin hunger strikes at
spaced intervals after the funeral of Sands.

Although Hughes was said to have been unconscious at the
time of Sands' death, McCreesh and O'Hara were awake and
lucid when the news of their comrade's passing was relayed
down the corridor of the prison hospital.

I WAS WITH the Sands family only two hours later and I
heard John Sands tell how his grief at the death of his
son, Bobby, had been compounded when he "hear he
heartbroken sobs coming from the rooms of Raymond McCreesh
and Patsy O'Hara."

Although Francie Hughes is probably already beyond help,
McCreesh and O'Hara could still be saved by the pressure of
world public opinion.

And that is why officials here are so sorely troubled by
the size of the foreign press delegation in Belfast.

-- 30 --

Columnist Jack McKinney, a veteran Daily News staffer, has
long been associated with the movement to end British rule
in Northern Ireland.

© Copyright 1996 Philadelphia Newspapers Incorporated.



Thursday, May 7, 1981
Page: 3
By Jack McKinney

BELFAST, Northern Ireland - A reporter from the Manchester
Guardian paid a visit to the home of Bobby Sands yesterday,
while a small group of relatives and friends stood silently
around the open casket of the IRA hunger striker. "Let him
come in," someone instructed the young man on the door. "We
want to give him the chance to tell the English people what
their government inflicted on Bobby."

As the British journalist reached the foot of the casket,
he gasped involuntarily and clenched his fists.

When a man dies in Northern Ireland, he goes to his grave
unembalmed and without cosmetics. There is no hypocrisy, no
whispered lies about "how peaceful he looks."

Bobby Sands lay in state looking as he had at the moment of
his death.

IN LIFE, HE had been a tall, broad-shouldered youth, a
shade over six fee all. His 160 pounds was distributed
leanly over the frame of the distance runner he had been
when he was a consistent medal winner for the predominantly
Protestant, Willowfield Temperance Harriers Club of

That was before he joined the Provisional IRA in 1972, at
age 18.

But in death, Bobby Sands was a shockingly emaciated
cadaver of "less than six stone (84 pounds) ," according to
the final medical report.

The long-haired, broad, smiling face that had become so
familiar on posters displayed throughout the Nationalist
areas of Northern Ireland had been transformed by 66 days
of starvation into a narrow, shrunken skull, its ski tight
yellow parchment with dark red streaks radiating out from
the sunken eyelids.

HIS SANDY HAIR was short now and at one point his younger
brother, Johnny, stepped behind the casket to brush a thin
forelock gently back from the brow.

The long, thin hands were folded around the gold crucifix
that had been given Sands by Msgr. John Magee, the Irish-
born papal secretary who visited the prisoner three times
during the final days to try to talk him into abandoning
his hunger strike.

Father Magee told Sands that Pope John Paul II had
instructed him personally to give this crucifix to him. And
according to the family, Bobby Sands was clutching it to
his chest when he died.

The man from the Manchester Guardian turned from the casket
and began to mumble:

"I can't tell you how sorry . . ."

His voice trailed off when he realized that every face in
the room was turned away from him.

The lines of mourners still extended as far as the eye
could see when they finally closed the casket on Bobby
Sands and brought it out of the house to carry it to St.
Luke's Chapel less than 200 yards up the street from his
rowhouse in the modest housing project of Twinbrook.

As a lone piper, playing " Wrap the Green Flag Round Me,"
preceded the pall bearers, an honor guard of six IRA
Volunteers and a brigade officer suddenly appeared from the
crowd to line up behind the coffin.

The IRA men, unarmed but wearing uniform battle fatigues
and hooded masks, were said to be members of the same ASU
(Active Service Unit) Bobby Sands had served with before he
was arrested in October 1973, and charged with possession
of a single revolver.

THE PIPER MODULATED into the traditional Irish dirge, "In
Memory of the dead." When Johnny Sands heard its mournful
tones, he began to weep so convulsively that an alternate
pallbearer had to move in and shoulder the coffin in his

The mourners who followed the honor guard had no chance of
getting into the church, which was already packed to
capacity with people who had waited more than an hour to
recite the Rosary in Irish after the casket was placed at
the foot of the altar.

Bobby Sands was scheduled to be buried late this afternoon
(about noon EST) after a slow march of more than four miles
from the funeral mass to the Republican plot in Milltown
Cemetery. Republican leaders predicted it would be the
largest funeral in the history of Northern Ireland, with
thousands of mourners expected from all over the country.

But there was a more ominous prediction from a veteran IRA
leader, who told me:

"After Bobby is buried, the guns will come out and the
serious shooting will begin."

In fact, the shooting actually began with isolated attacks
in three different parts of Northern Ireland before the
Rosary for Bobby Sands was completed.

In North Belfast, a rifle-bearing policeman was shot dead
when an armor-piercing bullet tore through the corrugated
metal wall of the so-called " peace line" that divides the
Catholic New Lodge Road district from the Loyalist
community of Tiger's Bay. A policewoman and a 10-year-old
boy suffered foot wounds from ricochet fire in the same

Earlier, two members of a British Army foot patrol were
wounded in a provisional IRA ambush in the border village
of Crossmaglen, 50 miles south of Belfast. Other soldiers
returned fire but claimed no hits.

THE LAST REPORTED attack of the night took place in Derry
City when a member of a mobile police patrol was struck in
the chest and seriously wounded by rifle fire.

These attacks marked an unexpected departure by at least
some units o he IRA, which was reported to have ordered a
72-hour cease-fire period to end at the minute of Bobby
Sands' burial.

But the killing of the policeman in Belfast was seen as a
specific retaliation for an "act of provocation" earlier in
the afternoon when police fired plastic bullets at a group
of women and children, seriously injuring one elderly
woman, during a Rosary vigil in Andersonstown.

Contrary to the claims of local authorities here, the
rioting and gasoline bombings that had flared sporadically
and often intensively since Sands' death was announced
early Tuesday were neither planned nor encouraged by the
Provisional Republican Movement.

What the IRA does have planned to protest the death of
Bobby Sands should become lethally apparent before the day
is out.

-- 30 --

Columnist Jack McKinney, a veteran Daily New staffer, has
long been associated with the movement to end British rule
in Northern Ireland.

© Copyright 1996 Philadelphia Newspapers Incorporated.



Friday, May 8, 1981
Page: 24
By Jack McKinney

BELFAST, Northern Ireland - When it comes to understanding
the Irish people, it seems England never learns. In the
wake of the tragic miscalculation that cost one young man
his life and earned them the most adverse press they
received in America since the War of 1812, the British are
playing games again.

THIS TIME, IT'S the familiar numbers game - a diversion
that preoccupied them every time there is occasion to
measure popular support for the republican Movement, i.e.,
disloyal opposition, in Northern Ireland.

For years, it has been the deliberate policy of the British
propaganda machine to undercount the attendance at any
Republican rally, protest, march or funeral, thus to
justify the government line that only a minority of hard-
line fanatics support such enterprises.

"Their formula is usually to count us up and then divide by
five," say easy McCullogh, an ailing but irrepressible West
Belfast housewife who has been known to take unauthorized
leave of a hospital ward so as not to miss the latest
Republican demonstration.

"IF WE PUT 5,000 people on the street, the military press
office will get together with the police and release an
official count of only a thousand. This can be very
annoying to the other 4,000 people, who pay their 12 pence
for the late edition of the Belfast Telegraph just to learn
they weren't even there."

Until yesterday, Teasy McCullogh thought she had seen the
most absurd illustration of this numbers game back in
August 1971, when authorities estimated the Provisional
Irish Republican Army numbered no more than "A few dozen
fanatics" and then proceeded to hammer on doors and seize
342 "known IRA members" in the pre-dawn hours of a single

But yesterday was something else, because yesterday at
least 200,000 people came out on the main road of West
Belfast for the funeral of Irish Republican hunger striker
Bobby Sands. And according to the British, most of them
weren't there at all.

THE PROPAGANDA machine jammed on this count, leaving the
pro-government local media to describe the turnout in
ambiguous terms of "tens of thousands."

But by the time Belfast-issued wire service accounts
reached the United States, I'm told the crowd for Bobby
Sands funeral was estimated at only 75,000 people.

Only the British themselves could have given a reasonably
accurate estimate of how many people really did pay their
final respects to Sands, because the British control the
air space over Belfast and yesterday that rain-darkened sky
was officially restricted to their own military

But as a lapsed sportswriter, I know something about the
techniques of crowd-counting and the turnout I witnessed
was by far the largest I have seen - anytime, anywhere!

THE FUNERAL procession started at St. Luke's Chapel in the
outlying district of Twinbrook, where the requiem Mass was
celebrated, and move lowly along a route of almost five
miles to the Republican burial plot in historic Milltown

All morning long, the 350-cab fleet of the Falls Road Taxi
Association had transported people to Twinbrook free of
charge. And for every person who managed to fit into one of
these large London-type black cabs, at least five other
people had to walk.

More than 100 chartered buses and hundreds more vans and
private autos brought people in from other parts of
Ireland, north and south. By the time the march began, it
was impossible to get within a half-mile of the church.

From the highest overlooking hill, I estimated the early
line of march as 100,000 strong. But it continued to swell
as thousands of people joined in along its route. A route,
remember, that measured almost five miles.

THE FUNERAL procession that started out at 2 in the
afternoon was still piling into the cemetery at a quarter
to 6 in the evening. That's a long time for a crowd of
even " 75,000" to dawdle.

On this occasion, however - given the presence of hundreds
of foreign reporters, photographers and TV crewmen, who
presumably could count for themselves - it seemed pointless
for the British to persist in the numbers game. But old,
unchecked habits are hard to break.

The largest funeral in the history of Northern Ireland had
all the traditional Republican aspects, including a
military honor guard of sever uniformed IRA men, who had
served with Bobby Sands, and a four-man firing party that
squeezed off a three- round volley with Chinese-made 7.62-
mm SKS automatic carbines less than a mile from the
cemetery gates.

Although his formal schooling ended when he was only 16,
Bobby Sands became a prolific writer during the three years
and seven months he spent confined in one of the so-called
H Blocks of Long Kesh Prison Camp.

THE QUALITY OF his literary efforts - the most creative of
which had been published in a fascinating booklet titled "
The Writings of Bobby Sands" - was all the more remarkable
considering that he was forced to write on bit f toilet
tissue and cigarette paper with only the barrel filler of a
ballpoint pen.

In an article smuggled out of Long Kesh and published in
the Republican News, Sands explained why he joined the
Provisional IRA and how that decision changed his life:

" I had seen too many homes wrecked, fathers and sons
arrested, neighbors hurt, friends murdered. Too much gas,
shootings and blood, most of it our own people's. At 18 1/2
I joined the Provos.

" MY LIFE NOW centered round sleepless nights and standbys,
dodging the Brits and calming nerves to go out on
operations. But the people stood b s. The people not only
opened the doors of their homes to us to lend and, but
they opened their hearts to us. I learned that without the
people we would not survive and I knew that I owed them

The people who opened their hearts to Bobby Sands have
again demonstrated their support of the cause for which he
gave his young life.

But how many more long marches to the graveyard must there
be before England acknowledges the reality of their

-- 30 --

Jack McKinney, a veteran Daily News staffer, has long been
associated with the movement to end British rule in
Northern Ireland.

© Copyright 1996 Philadelphia Newspapers Incorporated.



Monday, May 11, 1981
Page: 5
By Jack McKinney

BELFAST, Northern Ireland - The Cuban and the Venezuelan
were wandering around the Lake Glen Hotel like a pair of
lost souls. Both photojournalists for the national news
agencies of their respective countries, they were here t
over a revolution and they didn't know where to find it.

Small wonder. With every hotel and lodging house in Belfast
booked to capacity by reporters, photographers and TV news
crews, Miguel Roja of Havana and Riccardo Escalero of
Caracas had to settle for a room in the Beechlawn Hotel on
the outskirts of Lisburn, a loyalist village about 10 miles
from Belfast.

The so-called "People's Cabs" of the Falls Road Taxi
Association don't take runs to Lisburn, and private cabs
are almost impossible to find because almost all their
operators have been retained exclusively as driver-

guides by foreign TV news crews at the going rate of $250 a

So for Roja and Escalero, it was like trying to cover riots
in Chester from a Hotel in Fort Washington.

To compound their problem, only Roja had a working
knowledge of the English language, but he heard little that
sounded like it in the twangy, uniquely rapid, sing-song
dialect of Belfast.

Somehow the two Latins had made it into Belfast's Lake Glen
Hotel for a press conference of the National Anti-H-Blocks
Committee, where I was introduced to them by Bernadette
Delvin McAliskey in a slick maneuver known to fans of
American football as a pitch-out.

As a professional courtesy, I agreed to take them on a tour
of the trouble spots in west Belfast.

Their eyes widened when they saw the battered, impoverished
ghettos of Ballymurphy and Turf Lodge, where 80 percent of
the adult males are chronically unemployed and where 12-
year-old boys wait behind makeshift barricades to hurl
stones and gasoline bombs at passing army and police
armored cars on the White Rock Road.

For more than an hour, Roja and Escalero kept asking me to
pause so they could pop briefly out of the car,
photographing scenes of destruction from four nights of
rioting and filming wall slogans lamenting the death of
"Bobby Sands, M.P. (R.I.P)" and demanding political status
for the men in the H-Blocks of Long Kesh Prison Camp.

" This is another world," said Roja. " The only thing I
have seen than compared with it was Lebanon."

They wanted to photograph a British military installation.
After warning them that they'd have to be quick about it, I
took them up to Fort Jericho at the top of the Springfield

Fort Jericho, a huge, sprawling corrugated- walled
fortification that dominates the skyline of upper west
Belfast, is the nerve center of British military
intelligence. The ultimate in modern electronic
surveillance, its complex system of television monitors is
constantly receiving and videotaping images transmitted by
the cameras of mobile patrols and observation helicopters
all over Northern Ireland.

No matter how black the night, anything that moves within
range of those cameras is illuminated on the giant screens
in pale, ghostly green.

JUST OUTSIDE OF FORT Jericho, we came upon a large,
armored, mobile crane moving slowly across the road to the
fort with a burning van locked in its mighty metal jaws.

Before I could remember the Spanish "ambush conditions,"
Escalero was already out of the car to snap photos from a
nearby grassy slope. I shouted for him to get down, but he
was babbling something about needing a distance of 50
meters with the sun at his back. (Thanks a heap,

I turned to Roja, who had sensibly remained in the car, and
told him to warn Escalero he'd have more than the sun to
worry about at his back if he didn't let his culo down

As I spoke, there was a loud burst from an automatic weapon
just across the road, with Escalero right in the line of
fire. The Venezuelan then got down, all night, hitting the
turf like a man intent on burrowing his way to China.

Meanwhile, Roja and I were getting intimately acquainted
with the mucky floor of my rented vehicle.

No more than 25 rounds were fired from a scrubby patch
across the road, although Roja and Escalero were sure the
number was closer to 50, and, fortunately for us, the
British elected not to return fire. If they had, Northern
Ireland might have seen its first press fatalities since
July 3, 1970, when an Anglo-Polish journalist named
Zbigniew Uglik was shot dead by a British sniper on a small
street off the Lower Falls Road.

There's one thing about such ambush attempts that is safely
predictable. Hit or miss, at least they don't drag on. As
soon as I could coax Escalero out of the grass, I put the
boot to Herz's Ford Cortina 1400 and sped out of the area.

THE TWO LATINS learned first-hand about the efficiency of
the British military communications system during the next
20 minutes when we were stopped, thoroughly searched and
screened three times as we crossed into three different
command sectors.

By then, the Cuban and the Venezuelan seemed quite happy to
terminate their tour and part company in the relatively
safe commercial district of downtown Belfast.

As they headed toward the Europa Hotel, the favorite
sheltering place of the world press, Miguel Roja turned to

"Victory to the IRA," he proclaimed, in not very loud
Spanish. "But this time, I glad they missed."

But in fact, the IRA hadn't missed, because the attempted
ambush was not on f its operations.

The IRA (Provisional Irish Republic Army) has not been the
only Republician military force operating in Northern
Ireland since the death of Bobby Sands. There is also the
INLA (Irish National Liberation Army), the much smaller
armed wing of the Irish Republician Socialist Party.

Although they differ in political analysis, with the INLA
following a roughly doctrinaire Marxist line, the two
guerrilla organizations were able to operate, until
recently, without any significant disagreement on military
objectives and tactics.

But since the death of Sands, the IRA and the INLA appear
to have been working at cross-purposes, tactically.

While the IRA has been directing ambushes and heavy mortar
attacks against government security forces in the
countryside and in areas that border on the Republic of
Ireland, it has called for non-violent forms of protest in
the city of Belfast itself, arguing that urban violence
could halt the flow of essential goods and services to the
easily isolated nationalist districts of the capital.

But with the world press on hand, the publicity-thirsty
INLA has opted for military confrontation on the streets of
Belfast. Its ASUs (Active Service Units) have been
hijacking heavy commercial vehicles, blocking the roads
with them, and setting them afire in attempts to lure out
security forces for the purpose of ambushes, like the one
we blundered into in front of Fort Jericho.

THE SCORE SO FAR IS one to one. The policeman who was shot
dead the other night in the New Lodge Road district of
Belfast was the victim o n INLA sniper.

Not less then 24 hours earlier, the commander of an INLA
unit in the Markets district blew himself up while
attempting to defuse a claymore mine.

The mine had been planted in a spot frequently crossed by
British foot patrols. But when the patrols unexpectedly
changed their patterns, the INL officer assumed the risk of
defusing the mine because he feared it might be detonated
accidentally by neighborhood children at play.

As a predictable result of the INLA's maverick military
operations within Belfast, the IRA is coming under
increasing pressure to pursue one of two courses of action:

(1) Follow the INLA lead by commencing its own offensive in

2) Persuade the INLA to suspend its urban military
campaign, using physical force if necessary to convince the
smaller group.

Neither option is appealing to the IRA.

The first would run counter to their long- planned strategy
and could be perceived by the people as a case of the tail
wagging the dog.

The other course would almost certainly be deeply divisive
at a time when a second hunger-striker, Francie Hughes of
South Derry, appears to be n ore than a few days from death
while two others - Raymond McCreesh of South Armagh and
Patsy O'Hara of Derry City - are close to the point of no

O'Hara, ironically, is a member of the INLA who joined the
hunger strike to dramatize his organization's solidarity
with the IRA.

-- 30 --

Jack McKinney, a veteran Daily News staff member, has long
been associated with the movement to end British rule in
Northern Ireland.

© Copyright 1996 Philadelphia Newspapers Incorporated.



Wednesday, May 13, 1981
Page: 23
By Jack McKinney

Belfast, Northern Ireland - As a youth, Francis Joseph Sean
Hughes never showed much interest in the turbulent politics
of Northern Ireland, according to his older brother,
Oliver, 30, who recalls:

"Francie was a carefree lad. His two main interests were
Irish dancing and his collection of old bottles and

But for Francie Hughes, youth ended abruptly one night
after his 17th Birthday when a pal and he were stopped at a
British army roadblock near Ardboe, in County Tyrone, while
on their way home from a dance.

"The Brits trailed them out of the car for no reason at all
and gave them such a kicking that Francie had to spend
three days in bed," said Oliver, who runs the Hughes family
farm on Scribe Road, two miles outside the village of
Bellaghy in South County Derry.

"Our Da' told Francie he should file a complaint, but he
said he'd get his own wack (get even) without going to the
RUC {Royal Ulster Constabulary}."

Hughes got his own back and then some, becoming the most
feared – and "most wanted" - IRA " operator" in the region
of South Derry.

Only three days before his death yesterday on the 59th day
of a total hunger strike, An Phoblacht/Republican News, the
newspaper of the Irish Republican movement, described the
25-year-old Hughes as "one of the most outstanding Iris
evolutionary soldiers this war has produced."

Unlike his comrade, Bobby Sands, who died exactly one week
earlier on the 66t ay of a hunger strike, Francie Hughes
was not an urban guerrilla. The sea he swam through was the
rural area of South Derry, West Antrim and Tyrone.

His first involvement was with the then so-Called "
Official" IRA, but he quit in disgust in the summer of
1972, when that organization abandoned its military
campaign to pursue a self-isolating program of Stalinist

Hughes then organized an independent command of rural
guerrillas, which operated so effectively that the entire
force was recruited into the Provisional IRA near the end
of 1973.

"Francie was a brilliant leader, and absolutely fearless,"
a man who served with him told me. "When he'd plan a high-
risk operation, he wouldn't assign it to a Volunteer (basic
rank in the IRA). Francie would do the job himself."

By the time he was 19, government security forces had
saturated the countryside with posters of Hughes and two
comrades, Ian Milne and Dominic McGlinchey, describing
Hughes as the " most wanted man" in Northern Ireland.

During the last three years he operated, Hughes was "on the
run" - hiking distances up to 20 miles at night and
sleeping by day in ditches, fields and barns.

His ability to elude security forces was all the more
remarkable because, unlike urban guerrillas in Belfast and
Derry City, Hughes always operated in uniform.

Hughes wore the traditional black beret of the IRA and
combat fatigues with the word "Ireland" inscribed on the
breast of his jacket. He carried an America -14 rifle and a
holstered .38-cal. Smith & Wesson Special revolver, with
hand grenades hooked to his belt.

That's the way Francie Hughes was outfitted at 9:15 p.m. on
the night o arch 16, 1978, when he and a similarly
uniformed comrade came across two members of the elite
British Special Air Services (SAS), who had set up take-
out position in a field off the Ranaghan Road in the
townland of Ballyknock, two miles west of Maghera, in
County Derry.

In the ensuing shoot-out, one SAS man was killed and
Hughes' left thigh was shattered by a burst from a Sterling
sub-machinegun. The other SAS man was wounded in the
stomach, but he made radio contact with a nearby British
unit and the entire area was sealed off within three

Hughes' comrade, whom he never named, managed to escape.
But at 12:15 the next day, some 15 hours after the gun
battle, a massive British dragnet finally found Francie

He, too, had slipped through the cordon, dragging himself
over the Ranaghan Road and across two fields to a thick
clump of gorse bushes 300 yards away, where he'd tied off
the wound with his gunbelt and somehow survived one of the
coldest nights of the year.

Knowing there were orders to shoot him " on sight," Hughes
gave his name is Eamonn Laverty and said he came from
Letterkenny, in County Donegal. His true identity wasn't
discovered till he was taken to Musgrave Para military
Hospital, where he refused anesthesia when the bullets were
removed because he feared he might disclose his comrade's
name while under its effects.

Surgeons later removed a 1 1/2 -inch section of Hughes'
thigh bone and fused it with an aluminum peg. After 10
months in the hospital, he was taken t he notorious
Castlereagh Interrogation Center, where he refused all food
an rink for four days because he feared it might contain
drugs to make him talk.

The British had to know a man with that kind of iron wasn't
going to come off a hunger strike until the Republican
prisoners in the H- Blocks of Long Kesh prison Camp got the
demands they've been campaigning for.

"In Francie's case, the Brits were blatantly violating the
Geneva Accords o he treatment of prisoners of war," Hughes'
former comrade told me.

"Remember, it was them went on record to declare war
against the IRA. Francie was captured in uniform, after a
clear-cut military engagement.

"By internationally accepted definition, he was a prisoner
of war and he was entitled to be treated as such."

His family believes Hughes might have been saved if the
Prime Minister of the Republic of Ireland, Charles Haughey,
had mustered the courage to call British Prime Minister
Margaret Thatcher to grant the prisoners their just
demands. Instead, Haughey continued to make feeble
entreaties to the European Commission on Human Rights, even
after that agency admitted it had no" writ" to ask the
British government to be "more flexible."

Ironically, Charlie Haughey was born in the South Derry
village of Swatragh, only 10 miles from Francie Hughes'
home. He is not expected at the funeral.

-- 30 --

Jack McKinney, a veteran Daily News staff member, has long
been associated with the movement to end British rule in
Northern Ireland.

© Copyright 1996 Philadelphia Newspapers Incorporated.



Monday, June 1, 1981
Page: 19
By Jack McKinney

Shortly after 9 p.m. last Tuesday, Northern Ireland police
paid their annual token visit to Ruperta House, the
spacious headquarters building of the Ulster Defense
Association (UDA) on the Newtownards Road in East Belfast.

Andy Tyrie, the so-called " Supreme Commander" of the
militantly pro-British UDA, prides himself on his good
relations with the men of Royal Ulster Constabulary (RUC).
When he heard the visit was in progress, Tyrie hurried
right on over to greet the cops.

"They usually pay us a visit once a year or so," Tyrie
later explained. "Nobody ever stops them. We're courteous
to them and they're courteous t s."

The UDA, which claims 15,000 active members, is the largest
paramilitary organization in Northern Ireland.

Although it has been linked to sectarian murders of scores
of Catholics - more than 100 of its members are doing time
in Long Kesh Prison Camp for shootings and bombings, and
three others are awaiting trial for the January
assassination attempt on the lives of Bernadette Devlin
McAliskey and her husband - the UDA has enjoyed legal
status since its formation in August 1971.

But this sweetheart relationship between security forces
and the UDA threatened to sour somewhat when police opened
a cupboard in the room behind the kitchen of Ruperta House.

The cupboard was not bare. Inside were six Sten guns, a
Thompson Sub-machinegun, a .45-caliber revolver and 550
rounds of ammunition.

Damn. You could have knocked Supreme Commander Tyrie over
with the script of the Rev. Ian Paisley's latest sermon on
the mount.

"I was standing beside the RUC when they found this stuff,"
Tyrie told the Irish Times. "I looked at them and they
looked at me, and it was obvious that we were all
completely surprised."

According to the Times, Tyrie "could not imagine what the
guns could be used for."

The standard seven-day detention period in Castlereagh
Interrogation center just up the road might have done
wonders for Tyrie's imagination. But obviously the
sweetheart relationship wasn't that soured.

Tyrie and two of his aides were held for an hour and then
released. No charges were made against them.

Tyrie later told a TV reporter how nobody in his
organization ever went into that room anymore - not even
the kitchen staff - because they were all afraid of the
mice back there. The mice weren't charged with anything

You never know what's going to turn up in the Newtownards
HQ of the UDA. Guns have been found there before, with no
unhappy consequences to the organization's favored status.

An even more significant find was made during the RUC's
annual token visit of 1978. On that occasion, police came
away with several boxes full of British Army intelligence
files on suspected members of the Provisional Irish
Republican Army (IRA) and alleged sympathizers.

Unfortunately, this discovery came too late for prominent
Republican political activist Maire Drumm, who a year
earlier was murdered in her hospital bed by UDA men posing
as doctors.

The year before that, a young IRA Volunteer named Bobby
Sands was arrested, along with three other men, and charged
with possession of an unloaded revolver, which was found in
their car. All four were sentenced to 14 years for that
same single weapon.

Bobby Sands, you'll remember, was allowed to starve to
death last month o he 66th day of hunger strike. One of his
companions convicted on the same single weapon charge was
Joe McDonnell, who replaced Sands on hunger strike.

Today is McDonnell's 24th day without food. Like Bobby
Sands and the three hunger-strikers who died after him -
Francie Hughes, Raymond McCreesh and Patsy O'Hara - Joe
McDonnell will be allowed to die, too.

That's justice, Northern Ireland style.

-- 30 --

Jack McKinney's column appears Mondays, Wednesdays and

© Copyright 1996 Philadelphia Newspapers Incorporated.

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