Bobby Sands no hero, but terrorist says Robinson

Published: 2 May 2013 13:000 comments

With the anniversary of the death of hunger striker Bobby Sands being marked at events in Fermanagh this week-end, First Minister Peter Robinson has described him as "no hero" but a terrorist.

The hunger strike by Republicans came to the fore again recently following the death of former British Prime Minister, Margaret Thatcher.

She was premier in 1981, when Bobby Sands was elected as MP for Fermanagh-south Tyrone before becoming the first of 10 prisoners to die.

This Sunday, on the 32nd anniversary of his death, events are being held in Enniskillen and Newtownbutler.

One of the speakers is Sinn Fein Assembly member, Raymond McCartney, who also spent time on hunger strike.

Mr McCartney says that Bobby Sands showed leadership and raw courage in a political struggle.

But while Sinn Fein and the DUP share power at Stormont, the Democrat Unionist leader in Enniskillen for his party conference took a polar opposite view.

Sands was "no hero, but part of an organisation that butchered people."

There has been talk recently of the failure of Northern Ireland to move on with a shared society, and that dealing with the past is one of the stumbling blocks.

But the comments over Bobby Sands show how deeply divided views of the past are.

Meanwhile, news of a peace and reconciliation centre to be built at the site of the former Maze Prison in two years has created divisions within unionism.

UUP MLA Tom Elliott's description of the centre as a "terrorist shrine" has been firmly rejected by Peter Robinson in today's Impartial Reporter.

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