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Could Ireland ever look at Bobby Sands in the same way as the heroes of the 1916 Rising?

TheJournal.ie has been speaking to Brendan J Byrne about his new film Bobby Sands: 66 Days

Bobby Sands
Bobby Sands
Image: PA Wire/Press Association Images

NEW FILM BOBBY Sands: 66 Days examines the hunger striker through his own words, drawing on a diary he kept during the early days of his protest.

The film looks to examine a man whose identity can seem to be overshadowed by his status as an icon.

“I made the film to try and understand a guy who was on a gable wall who I didn’t really know much about other than the image and the footage of the funeral,” director Brendan J Byrne tells TheJournal.ie. 

I thought, ‘if that’s all I know, what does anyone else know?’

Source: HotDocsFest/YouTube

Since its release the film has been enthusiastically received since hitting cinemas earlier this week, with critics praising its balance.

While Sands is often held up as an iconic revolutionary internationally, the perception of the hunger strikers is often more complicated closer to home – especially south of the border.

In the centenary year of the 1916 Rising, how do the two events compare?

“I don’t know how the 50th anniversary of 1916 was celebrated,” says Byrne, reflecting on the difference.

If you were a historian and looked at the difference between how 1916 was commemorated in 1966 and in 2016, you might see a lot of important differences which I’m not fully qualified to articulate.

I think it would have been much more muted in 1966. I think there is a greater sense that 100 years later everyone can more collectively own that story. I think the hunger strike, I think that it’s still too early.

“It’s not too early to make a film, but it’s still too early for there to be a more general and kind of expansive way of recognising and perhaps marking their death,” says Byrne.

Bobby Sands: 66 Days is in cinemas now. 

Read: ‘They set out to cause serious injury’: 35 years since 200 were hospitalised in ‘the Battle of Merrion Street’

Also: Britain’s new Shadow Chancellor has apologised for saying IRA members should be “honoured”

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