THERE ARE SECURITY ‘concerns’ that dissident republicans might seize on the 30th anniversary of the death of Bobby Sands to launch attacks today.
The Wall Street Journal notes that today’s commemorations to the death of the hunger striker coincide with local elections. Alistair MacDonald also writes that dissidents are now trying to raise funds abroad for their activities and have held private fundraisers in some US cities “even though they are explicitly banned from raising money in the US”.
Back at the start of April, The Australian also reported that security officials believed dissidents wanted to “step up terrorist activity” to coincide with both the Sands anniversary and the Northern Ireland Assembly elections. They reported a security source as saying:
Frankly, they could have picked a better day for an election.
Some commemorations have already passed off peacefully in Northern Ireland over last weekend. The Derry Journal reports that over 1,500 people took part in a rally on Sunday passing from Creggan to the H Block monument at Rossville Street in Derry city.
Danny Morrison, a former director of publicity for Sinn Fein, is speaking at an event in the Brampton Irish Centre in Canada on Saturday to mark the anniversary. He said that “the 1981 hunger strike was our 1916, generating emotion, anger, increased support for the IRA and ultimately leading to the electoral rise of Sinn Fein”. Morrison has written in today’s Guardian newspaper, recalling the conditions at Long Kesh and describing Bobby Sands as “a poet, a revolutionary, and – in the words of singer Christy Moore – the ‘People’s Own MP’”. Not all those writing in the comments section after his article agreed.
There are some events in the Republic of Ireland too, with a commemoration being held in Ballinasloe, Co Galway this evening, addressed by Eoghan McCormaic who was a friend of Bobby Sands and in Long Kesh during the hunger strike. Sands, then MP for Fermanagh/South Tyrone, died after 66 days on hunger strike in Long Kesh’s H-Block in protest at republican prisoners not being treated as political prisoners. He had been jailed for possession of a weapon after a fire bomb attack on a furniture shop in Belfast, says the BBC.