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Northern Ireland

October 19, 2011

Please continue and/or initiate conversations pertaining to Northern Ireland (including, for example, the Derry/Londonderry film) here. For insightful prior comments on this topic see the comments appended to the ‘Welcome’ post above.

35 Comments leave one →
  1. October 19, 2011 5:46 pm

    From :Rob Savage
    October 11, 2011 3:18 pm
    Hello Students:
    Looking forward to seeing you at the screening/seminar tonight. As noted in class (for Media and Modern Ireland) we will skip the traditional journal this week and respond to ‘Divided Cities: Exchanging Narratives’ both at the seminar and on this blog.
    Best wishes
    Rob Savage

  2. Rob Savage permalink
    November 1, 2011 1:57 am

    Hi all:

    I’ve posted an article from the journal Philosophy titled: ‘Suicide and Self-starvation’ it is by Terrence O’Keefe an academic at the University of Ulster and addresses the ethics of the hunger strikes that provoked an international controversy in 1981. This is a short but provocative essay (approximately 13 pages), please read this before our meeting on Thursday. As mentioned we will be screening a clip from Steve McQueen’s award winning film ‘Hunger’. Thanks, Rob Savage

  3. Rob Savage permalink
    November 3, 2011 3:38 pm

    Hello Media and Modern Ireland students. After reading Terence O’Keeffe’s article and attending class today I’d ask that you contribute to this blog by providing your thoughts on the exchange between Bobby Sands and the prison chaplain in the film ‘Hunger’. Would you describe Sands death as suicide? Does the exchange between Sands and the chaplain complicate your thinking about the morality the hunger strike? Feel free to refer to the O’Keeffe article in answering.

  4. Rob Savage permalink
    November 3, 2011 9:17 pm

    Dear students: Again thanks for your patience and observations in class today. I would ask each one of you to contribute a sentence or two (or three!) with your thoughts on the film. No essay or journal entry is needed but everybody should post a comment and take a look back to see if your observation/thought has been addressed by classmates. Don’t feel you have to address the article from the journal ‘Philosophy’. Instead give your own impression of the encounter between Bobby Sands and the Chaplain as presented in the film Hunger. You can address the ‘exchange’ between the two and give your own feedback to the points each was making. If you feel more comfortable feel ere to provide your own opinion to the question that is raised in the film re: is the hunger strike a sin, is it suicide? Thanks, I look forward to seeing your comments!

    Rob Savage

    • Jilliene Jaeger permalink
      November 12, 2011 3:40 am

      In regards to the film, I took the story of the deer differently than most mentioned in class. I took the suffering animal as a metaphor for Ireland and its suffering. The man (then a boy) killing it stepped forward to end this suffering even though it was hard to kill the animal. Now he is stepping forward and making another sacrifice (a more extreme one of course) in order to end the suffering of Ireland.

      Jilliene Jaeger

  5. hayyim (kevin) permalink
    November 3, 2011 10:30 pm

    just a thought after the meeting today.

    so the conversation btwn the IRA man and the priest ends with the narrative of the former taking a leadership role in the mercy-drowning of the foal and thereby gaining the respect of both the protestant and catholic kids… implying that in taking up the hunger fast he is like the foal whose sacrificial death atones the division btwn the two groups and brings them together. at this, the priest remains silent

    I had commented that the reason the priest remained silent is not moral defeat but a recognition that the IRA guy had thought himself into a quasi-delusional aporia from which he could not be saved and, therefore, there was nothing else to say.

    this aporia is as follows:

    the reason killing the foal was noble is due to the fact that it itself required its own death and so providing it with that death was the right thing to do

    the IRA guy wants to be a martyr but to do so he must die for others. yet, in dying for others and not for himself his death is no longer like the death of the foal, therefore killing himself is unlike killing the foal and, as such, is not justified like the killing of the foal was

    but he cannot see this. this is why the priest remains silent.

    as a general rule I agree with prof. kearney in this matter: martyrology does not resolve conflicts or bring about the results martyrs for a good cause strive towards. it only further polarizes and so makes the goal harder to achieve.

  6. Rob Savage permalink
    November 4, 2011 12:52 pm

    Thanks Hayyim

    The class discussion made it clear that there are a number of different ways the metaphor might be interpreted. Any other ideas or comments on Hayyim’s observations?

  7. joshua permalink
    November 4, 2011 3:04 pm

    A few exegetical words from the school of ministry –

    I saw a different relationship between the two stories going on, though Kevin is definitely right that there’s an irresolvable tension if the foal is meant as a justifying paradigm for self-starvation.

    I “read” the film clip with some elements of roman catholic fundamental moral theology in mind, being particularly interested in the priest’s moral reasoning. It’s an oversimplification, but a useful one, to say that there were probably two options the priest had for his moral reasoning, given his training. The first would be what BC theologian James Keenan could call “taxonomic,” which basically relies on prudence and uses practical reason to compare one concrete case to paradigm cases that are morally licit. The second mode would be what could be called “geometric,” as arguments there are idealized, and one looks to laws and principles (especially the principle of double effect, which O’Keeffe points to) to determine whether something is licit.

    Now, today, especially with the renewed influence of virtue ethics in catholic moral theology, our priest would be taught to put phronesis and especially prudence as primary, with things like the principle of double effect as secondary (as Nussbaum has said, a good rule is a good summary of wise particular choices).
    Historically, though, it’s proven expeditious to teach people rules to follow and rubrics to run things through — forming moral character is too much work. So I’m betting that our dear priest was doing a “geometical” application of the principle of double effect – this would be what was going on in the first part of his talk with Bobby. He’d run through a checklist, doing something like this:
    1) the object of Bobby’s action must be morally good or morally neutral – being declared a political prisoner / prisoner of war works, as would desire to affect just political change
    2) Bobby cannot intend an evil effect – that is, his own death. This seems to be the big question for the priest, who suspects that Bobby is suicidal. Bobby aims to convince the priest that he isn’t (just?) suicidal. I thought that his story with the foal was told to convince the priest of Bobby’s conviction that his concern was following his conscience / doing the right thing rather than suicide — at least it seemed to function that way. O’Keeffe’s article would have us ask what Bobby’s reaction would be if he were revivified after death.
    3) the ends don’t justify the means – this hinges on #2; if Bobby intends suicide, a hunger strike is morally evil. but if he intends political change, a hunger strike isn’t automatically out.
    4) there must be a proportionate reason for allowing Bobby’s death. This is where the priest almost gets him – is this really worth it, even if you won’t see your son again? This is also where I think this method failed them, since they didn’t perceive possible consequences outside of those intended.

    So, our dear priest conceivably went through his double effect checklist, and found that Bobby could be acting according to it and in good (if flawed) conscience. He hated it, but he had to accept that Bobby’s actions could be justified on paper — hence his silence.

    The problem, I’d say, is that the priest is stuck in a mode of moral reasoning which should be used for double-checking rather than justifying. As Kevin observed, the foal doesn’t logically ground the hunger strike. There were key contextual questions to ask – what is the likelihood that this will polarize the factions? Do Thatcher and the MPs give half a damn about IRA prisoners, or will they take their cues from Cromwell? Most importantly (in my mind) – will this precipitate further violence? In the end, I think neither the priest nor Bobby employed enough prudence or practical wisdom.
    Joshua J

  8. Ryan O'Malley permalink
    November 5, 2011 4:51 pm

    What I felt was interesting in the exchange was the tension over the hunger strike. The chaplain obviously does not want Bobby to go through with it as he attempts to convince him to change his mind, almost doing so by mentioning Bobby’s son. What struck me was the defeated silence / acceptance of the chaplain once he realized there was absolutely no way he was going to convince Bobby not to strike. It made the whole conversation that much more powerful and dramatic.

  9. hayyim (kevin) permalink
    November 6, 2011 12:13 am

    joshua –

    this is more of a question than a comment b/c i have no knowledge of catholic theology. can a person choose martyrdom? or is martyrdom something that falls within fixed legal definitions. I ask because in Jewish law one is either obligated to martyr or forbidden to martyr. If one is being forced to commit any one of three cardinal sins he must martyr rather than do so and in any other case he is forbidden to martyr and is required to contravene the law to save his life. how does this work for catholics?

    • joshua permalink
      November 6, 2011 9:27 pm

      I’m actually not Roman Catholic either; I’m a freelancer of sorts and don’t know about that aspect of RC moral thought. I can make a couple brief historical comments —

      first, the christian scriptures give us a view of the early christian communities’ views on what to do — painting very broadly, there are of course standard admonitions to be steadfast under persecution. that’s done pastorally in paul’s letters and the pastoral epistles; it’s also done narratively/mythologically in e.g. the book of revelation, where martyrs receive crowns in heaven (though just about all the symbolism and imagery in that book is taken from the postexilic Hebrew scriptures (i’m thinking Daniel) and martyrologies in other Jewish writings like 1 and 2 Maccabees). In Mark 13, jesus predicts the destruction of the Jerusalem temple and basically tells the reader “when you see the desolating sacrilege (as in daniel and 1 and 2 maccabees), head for the hills.” which is interesting given that he goes to his death shortly thereafter.

      second, the pre-constantinian roman empire (occasionally after him as well) gave christians lots of opportunities for martyrdom — some people figured that the best thing to do was to get baptized and immediately seek martyrdom. this caused all sorts of trouble — the official response from the church was that this was tantamount to suicide and thus wrong. on the other hand, if a second- or third-century renounced their faith rather than face death, they were excluded from full community fellowship (e.g. eucharist) for some amount of time, generally a number of years.

      I’d happily hear a response to kevin’s question from someone more versed in RC moral thinking

  10. Katie Horigan permalink
    November 6, 2011 5:39 pm

    I found the setting of the conversation very intriguing and appropriate for the actual exchange of words between the priest and Bobby Sands. As the two men discuss their different points of view, the camera angle remains steady and balanced between the two. It is not until Bobby speaks of the foul does the camera finally zoom carefully to his face. It is because of this speech and the focus on his face alone that the viewer fully recognizes Bobby’s unwavering desire to create change and the consequences he will endure. I do not see his actions as suicidal, but I do believe he is unsure of the outcomes. The priest asks Bobby what good is the hunger strike if he is dead in the end. Although Bobby realizes he will be dead once he follows through with the plan, Bobby knows he must at least try to create change rather than succumb to the English while in prison. As a result, Bobby acts despite the Priest’s disapproval, not to be remembered as a martyr, but to instill change in society.

  11. Dan Sheehan permalink
    November 7, 2011 8:53 pm

    The question of whether or not Bobby Sands was delusional came up in discussion following the viewing of the film clip. Some very strong points were made on both sides of the argument and I would like to add my position. I do not think Bobby Sands was delusional in the sense that he held a wrong or incorrect belief or that he was mentally unstable. In fact as is evident in the scene, Sands is actually very lucid and rational. He argues his case for the hunger strike so perfectly that he silences the chaplain, either in defeat or agreement. Sands is not delusional, he just has strong beliefs that are rarely seen in everyday life. Sands believes that through his suffering or death, he can bring change to Northern Ireland. While this may seem delusional, it can be argued that the hunger strikes led by Bobby Sands started the move toward a peaceful end to the Troubles. Sands was not delusional, his strong convictions are just hard for people to understand, but nevertheless necessary for a hunger strike.

  12. Logan Macomber permalink
    November 8, 2011 5:41 am

    The exchange between Sands and the prison chaplain in the film was fascinating. The setting and the interaction between the cigarette smoke and the light brought out the gravity of the topics being discussed and commanded my attention. I agree that the change of camera angle that occurs as Sands begins the foal story is incredibly powerful. We finally see the eyes of Sands as the chaplain sees them. Sands becomes an individual rather than the impersonal silhouette of a hunger striker that we see when he and the chaplain are in profile.

    Sands says to the chaplain, “You call it suicide. I call it murder.”
    After viewing the exchange in the film, I would not call Sands’ death suicide. He did not will death for the sake of death. The reasoning behind his hunger strike was firm and had the demands of the strike been met, he would not have felt that he had to die. Suicide is generally associated with someone who has given up, and Sands was far from resigned in the film. As someone mentioned in class, he was full of fire and life force. This shone through as he remembered the fields of barley or thought about his son. The chaplain says, “Life must mean nothin’ to you.” It was not that life meant nothing to Sands, but that the possibility for others to live in a world that he felt was just meant more to him than his life in an unjust world. The argument that Sands’ death was suicide because he initiated it and could have prevented it is logical, but misses the depth of Sands’ thinking and motivation, as well as the immensity of his determination. Suicide is seen as a swift, “easy” means of escape, and the strength that Sands must have had to endure 66 days without food in those conditions complicates the issue greatly.

  13. john permalink
    November 8, 2011 3:19 pm

    “Hunger” is a very moving work in a number of ways, and presents many powerful and disputable ideas. During the exchange I saw at no point any signs of delusion in Bobby Sands speech or mannerism. He had a clear sense of the issues at hand and was determined to act in the the way he saw fit to respond. I wouldn’t call his decision suicidal nor martyrdom, at least not yet. Rather I see it as a sacrifice his position allows and his rationale demands.

  14. john permalink
    November 8, 2011 3:19 pm

    “Hunger” is a very moving work in a number of ways, and presents many powerful and disputable ideas. During the exchange I saw at no point any signs of delusion in Bobby Sands speech or mannerism. He had a clear sense of the issues at hand and was determined to act in the the way he saw fit to respond. I wouldn’t call his decision suicidal nor martyrdom, at least not yet. Rather I see it as a sacrifice his position allows and his rationale demands.

  15. Tom Meehan permalink
    November 9, 2011 8:08 pm

    I would have liked to see Sands address the chaplain’s reference to his son further. Judging by the foal story, I believe his goal was to take action so that his son’s generation would not have to endure the prejudice he did. Therefore, I believe he was not suicidal, but rather willing to sacrifice himself for the betterment of his country.

  16. Mary permalink
    November 9, 2011 8:24 pm

    Watching the dialogue between Bobby Sands and the priest push and pulled my emotions towards whether a hunger strike was martyrdom or not. Both the priest and Bobby Sands com from a similar background and both want a united Ireland, yet they do not agree on the ways to achieve that end. Juxtaposing a rationale figure to the passionate, charismatic Bobby Sands, left me unable to side whether a hunger strike or dialogue would be more effective and furthermore if a hunger strike was suicide or not. Despite not agreeing with a hunger strike, the Priest understands that a man so strong in his convictions cannot be swayed. I believe that Bobby Sands decision for a hunger strike reflects his desperate situation in prison. He is not delusional or wanting to commit suicide, but rather wants to help the cause with limited means to do so. The hunger strike is the only way he sees that he can make a difference. This sacrifice reflects Sands commitment to doing what he believes is right, and this commitment is admirable to both the audience and the priest.

    • Peter Connolly permalink
      December 30, 2011 9:33 am

      I’d like to respond to your question of whether a hunger strike or dialogue would be more effective. While dialogue is a powerful and essential tool for overcoming injustices such as those faced by the IRA prisoners, I firmly believe that a physical action, such as a hunger strike, can send a more concise message to a larger audience. When people learn of other people’s sufferings, and I don’t mean in an emotional or ideological sense, it strikes a visceral reaction. Everyone can imagine the pain of starvation and would never dream of inflicting it upon oneself, that is, with the exception of the small population of other prejudiced groups that can empathize with the prisoners. So, when Bobby Sands and the 9 other men chose to starve themselves to death, it communicates to a broader audience their dedication to their cause and the need for redemptive action.

  17. Jordan D permalink
    November 15, 2011 4:23 am

    Just a few thoughts on the issue of delusion: It seems that Sands can’t help but know that he will be remembered for his actions, but at the same time he doesn’t appear to be seeking death in a way that’s out of step with real problems. Even if he sees himself in the tradition of MacSwiney and others, he isn’t like a religious zealot seeking paradise through self-sacrifice–the only ones that can really benefit will have been those who remain behind when the hunger strike ends.

  18. Cyrus Kapadia permalink
    November 30, 2011 10:31 pm

    My opinion on whether or not Bobby Sands’s hunger strike can be considered suicide depends on the motivations for the hunger strike. Suicide is usually an act performed by people who feel that they have nothing for which to live. In Bobby Sands’s case, he recognized that he was making a sacrifice, since he did have a family that he did love very much. In Sands’s case, he was not refusing to eat because he had nothing to live for; instead, he was refusing to eat because of his cause.

  19. Joanna Timmons permalink
    December 1, 2011 4:59 pm

    I strongly agree with Cyrus’ comment about Bobby Sands’ hunger strike.In Bobby’s case, he was not going on a hunger strike because he was dissatisfied with his life or current situation. Instead he was willing to make this sacrifise because he felt strongly about a cause. In the event that suicide was Bobby’s intention, he would have been motivated by emotions such as despair and hopelessness and feelings that he had no true purpose in life.

  20. Taylor Willis permalink
    December 4, 2011 6:20 pm

    I feel as though Sands’ hunger strike was suicide, but a particular, unselfish kind. I don’t mean to define suicide in general as an act as selfish; I mean to differentiate between goals of suicide. In my opinion, one can commit suicide with the intention of actually bettering one’s situation (to die would be better than to live), or one can commit suicide with the intention of making a point. In continuing the hunger strike, Sands was making a point about his passion and the worth of the cause rather than making his was toward an ultimate alleviation of the pain and suffering he was enduring. His intentions, I believe, were directed toward unselfish goals – he committed suicide for the good of the cause, not because he was attempting to escape the situation. In this sense, Sands made a sacrifice.

  21. John Kinzer permalink
    December 5, 2011 12:24 am

    In regards to the film “Hunger,” I was fascinated by my own uninterrupted interest in the dialogue between Sands and the priest. I have never been that captivated by a dialogue before and as long as the cigarette smoke burned, I listened attentively and with a passionate following. The most interesting topic that arose in class for me was the question of why the priest subjects himself to silence in the end. Many made the case that Sands was delusional and so far from rationality that the priest was forced to give up any attempt to bring him to reason. However, I take an entirely different stance. As a man of faith, the priest has undoubtedly had many occurrences and experiences in which he has read in the eyes of his confessor the motives and beliefs behind a crime or sin. By the end of Sands’ passionate reasoning for why he must sacrifice his life for the cause, the priest is so stupefied and almost terrified by Sands’ passionate belief that he knows Sands will never be swayed. A man of faith, the priest can read in Sands’ eyes his commitment to a cause that is truly transcendent in nature. Sands is unbending in his belief for this cause and the priest recognizes that never before has he seen a man so passionately convinced in a personal belief that transcends all notions of morality and normal reason. It is in this realization at the end that this powerful dialogue reaches its climax, making the clip even more dramatic, real, and inspiring.

  22. Michael Ubriaco permalink
    December 5, 2011 2:45 pm

    The lighting in the dialogue scene, which only allows the audience to see only the figures of Bobby Sands and the Chaplain, creates a powerful discussion between two different parties rather than specific individuals. At first glance, one may think these two opposing sides are the Irish Clergy and the IRA but really they are the moderates and extremists in Ireland. Father Dom abandons an argument dictated by Catholicism for one guarded by reason thus isolating him from the clergy. The audience gains access into the mind of Sands right before the hunger strike which has abandoned all rationality in support of the cause. Father Dom had no chance to dissuade Sands from going ahead with the strike and I believe he knew this going into the meeting.

  23. Jack Cooper permalink
    December 5, 2011 3:04 pm

    Having seen this film before, watching the scene of Bobby Sands and the priest by itself makes it all the more powerful. The fact that the camera hardly moves enforces the idea that Bobby Sands is not going to waver on his intentions, and the silence by the priest at the end is nothing to simply brush off. As an opinionated individual like myself, silence, especially in discussions that hold weight like the one in the film, is an extremely difficult thing to allow oneself to do. The priest can see that Sands knows what he’s planning on doing is the right thing and cannot change his mind.

    One thing I think should have been included more in the film is the relationship between Bobby Sands and his family. At the end of the movie, his parents come to see him but his wife and child are absent. This makes the priests point about his son seem less consequential because there is no face to the name. If the audience were able to see his son or had seen him before, it would make the discussion even more powerful and also would emphasize the situation Sands and the IRA found themselves in. Their position was so dire that they actually found the need to starve themselves to death, even though some of them had families waiting for them on the outside. The film is a display of just how far someone will go for what they think is right.

  24. Jamie D permalink
    December 5, 2011 7:49 pm

    Although Bobby Sands hunger strike did result in his death, I would not consider it suicide. Also, I believe that Sands was fully competent and not suffering from any mental deficiencies. Sands sacrificed his life and died for a purpose. He felt that sacrificing his life was the only way to fulfill his goal and in many ways, the aftermath of his death proved him right. As for the chaplain’s comment about Sands’ son, I believe that Sands’ saw his own death and sacrifice as a foundation for a better future for not only his son but all future Irish citizens.

  25. Danny Troy permalink
    December 5, 2011 8:31 pm

    Reading some of the comments made above, I interpreted the work of Bobby Sands in a different way. I do not view suicide as a rational way to achieve ones goal, in any scenario. When contemplating suicide, there is a trade off to be considered. In this case, Sands felt that the notoriety of his death would be more beneficial to the cause than staying alive and continuing to help. I disagree with his choice. I feel that Sands’ suicide took away any contributions he could have made in his life had he chosen life over death.

    Danny Troy

  26. Ryan Tierney permalink
    December 6, 2011 2:07 am

    With regards to the question of whether or not a hunger strike qualifies as a suicide attempt , I believe that it is suicide. Typically, a suicide is brought on from some underlying problem in ones life, such as extreme depression or guilt. However, history has seen many instances in which a person commits suicide as a demonstration in which they wish to push a political agenda. During the Vietnam War, Vietnamese Buddhist monks lit themselves on fire in protest of the religious persecution that was occurring under the South Vietnamese government. Bobby Sands began his hunger strike in protest of the way he and other prisoners were being treated. By beginning such a strike, Sands is stating that he is willing to give up his life for this cause. The dialogue between Sands and the priest demonstrates how committed he is to his cause, despite his immoral demonstration.

  27. December 6, 2011 4:48 am

    I think some hunger strikes can be considered suicide, but not really in this case. I view Bobby Sands as a martyr, even though he technically went out on his own terms. He died for something bigger than himself. To me at least, suicide is done as an escape. Sands didn’t want to escape anything. He died so that his life’s work would be completed, even if he wasn’t around to enjoy the peace.

  28. John Haddad permalink
    December 6, 2011 5:52 am

    The encounter between Bobby Sands and the Chaplain is an extremely interesting exchange about the nature of martyrdom vs. suicide. Basic definitions for martyrdom call for the suffering of death on account of adherence to a cause. Sands is clearly adhering to the important cause of proper treatment for political prisoners during an extremely tumultuous time in Northern Irish politics. Some would argue that Sands had alternate opportunities to demonstrate the injustices occurring in prison and would justify his hunger strike as suicide. To me, hunger strike (especially in Sands’ circumstance) is not suicide. Efforts to obtain basic prisoner’s rights were denied and caused the political prisoners’ jail conditions to fall far below civilized expectations. To Sands, it was evident that something major had to occur and it had to be completely within his and the others control. For him, a hunger strike was the only effective demonstration method that he could control without interference from prison guards. The blanket and dirty protests within the prison had been contained within the walls of the prison but a hunger strike, Sands knew, would permeate the walls of the prison and draw public attention to the injustices of prisoner treatment. While he consciously chose death, we must look at his commitment to the cause of prisoner rights and understand the influence that his death (and the nine others that died as a result of the hunger strike) had on prisoner treatment. Sands was elected to the British House of Commons while on hunger strike and the fact that Margaret Thatcher allowed an elected MP to die in prison certainly contributed to his influence. But his strong devotion to a cause certainly resonated with many people within Ireland and throughout the world (100,000 people attended his funeral). We should focus more on Bobby Sands’ commitment to the prisoners cause rather than his “self-imposed” death when deciding if a hunger strike should be considered suicide.

  29. Patrick Keating permalink
    December 6, 2011 5:56 am

    The death of Bobby Sands is one of the most striking and powerful political events in the history of modern Ireland. Sands’ devotion to the cause of Northern Irish freedom led him to starve himself to death in protest of the conditions imposed by the British authorities within the Long Kesh Prison. The exchange in views presented by the film Hunger offers a unique perspective on Sands’ fast and leads to the question of whether his death was an act of suicide. Suicide is a tricky topic to discuss, yet it seems to me that Sands was aware of his own death, yet did not seek to die out of hate for his own life, but rather love of his fellow republicans. As such, Sands viewed himself as a martyr and it seems to me that this kind of viewpoint is the determining factor when it comes to the suicide question. For a brief example, Christ was aware that he would face his end as a result of his preaching and actions within ancient Palestine. Yet, he did not turn from his death, but instead freely accepted it as a sacrifice for all mankind. Christ did not commit suicide, and neither did Sands.

  30. Mike Shaughnessy permalink
    December 6, 2011 2:57 pm

    In my opinion, a hunger strike does not necessarily qualify as a suicide attempt. In the case of Bobby Sands, I feel as though he was simply attempting to cause an uproar to highlight his cause, and fulfill his goals. I have always thought of the hunger strikes as an interesting way for those protestors to place their lives in the hands of someone else, as a means to an end. Although Sands’ eventually died due to his hunger strike, his death had a purpose, and his cause lived on.

  31. Dana Flynn permalink
    December 6, 2011 3:06 pm

    I do not believe Bobby Sands hunger strike was an act of suicide. His devotion to his country and the Republican cause is immense; I believe that his decision to strike was one of ultimate dedication to the cause, rather than any personal desire to end his life. Sands views any mention of his personal life as “attacking [him] with sentimentality” — in his mind, setting aside his own life is a pure sacrifice in pursuit of a greater goal. Sacrifice is not synonymous with suicide.

  32. Rob Savage permalink
    December 26, 2011 8:32 pm

    Hi everybody

    Many thanks for participating in these discussions, Happy New Year!

    Rob Savage

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