#OTD in 1980 – British Prime Minister, Margaret Thatcher, stated in the House of Commons: “The government will never concede to political status to the hunger strikers, or to any others convicted of criminal offences in the province.”

The hunger strikes of 1980-81 were a confrontation between British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher and the iron will of Irish republican prisoners in the H-Blocks of Long Kesh, in an attempt to break the British policy of criminalising paramilitary prisoners. The prisoners’ ultimate demand, to be granted a ‘special category status’ that distinguished them from other prisoners, led to two hunger strikes. The first, in 1980, ended without success for the prisoners; the second, led by Bobby Sands, resulted in ten prisoners starving themselves to death. The consequences of the hunger strikes changed Irish politics and British-Irish relations forever, beginning the long path to eventual peace with the signing of the Good Friday Agreement in 1998.

H-Blocks of Long Kesh Prison

Posted by

Stair na hÉireann is steeped in Ireland's turbulent history, culture, ancient secrets and thousands of places that link us to our past and the present. With insight to folklore, literature, art, and music, you’ll experience an irresistible tour through the remarkable Emerald Isle.