Family of Bobby Sands to mark his 25th anniversary


Members of the Sands family will assemble for a private gathering in the former Maze Prison near Lisburn today to commemorate the 25th anniversary of the death of Bobby Sands, while Sinn Féin will also hold a special memorial event at the Maze.

Sinn Féin is also staging a series of events around Ireland today to mark the death of Bobby Sands after 66 days of hunger strike. He was the first of the 10 hunger strikers to die.

The hunger striker's sister, Bernadette Sands McKevitt, could not be contacted to confirm if she would be attending the private family service. Ms Sands McKevitt, who is married to jailed former Real IRA leader Michael McKevitt, and is a senior figure in the Thirty-Two County Sovereignty Committee, has claimed on many occasions that her brother would not have accepted the political accommodation that Sinn Féin supports.

The Sands will gather in the former hospital of the Maze and visit the cell where Bobby was initially kept, according to the Office of the First Minister and Deputy First Minister, which has responsibility for the site.

The families of the other nine hunger strikers are being allowed the same facility which they may take up on or about the anniversary of the deaths.

Also this morning, former IRA prison colleagues of Bobby Sands along with members of the relatives' action committees from 1981 and senior Sinn Féin members will hold a memorial event in the old prison hospital. The group will include the then IRA prison commanding officer, Brendan McFarlane, and Sinn Féin MPs Martin McGuinness and Michelle Gildernew.

Vigils will be held in parts of west Belfast this evening while senior African National Congress member Robert McBride will deliver the annual Bobby Sands memorial lecture in the Devenish Complex in Belfast.

Sinn Féin president Gerry Adams will visit the hunger strike monument at Hackballscross, Co Louth, this morning and this evening he will speak at a Bobby Sands commemorative event in Navan, Co Meath.