Issue 3-2023-200dpi

26 April 2001 Edition

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Back issue: BOBBY SANDS: Hunger Striker, IRA Volunteer, Westminster MP,

Days to live

ON WEDNESDAY, H-Block hunger striker Bobby Sands was reported to be in a dangerously weak condition, with prison doctors indicating that his life could be only be measured in days.

Dr John O'Connoll, the Free State politician who visited Bobby on Monday and who took the opportunity to carry out a medical examination, said, at the time, that he believed that Bobby had no more than five or six days left to live.

Last Sunday night, Bobby blacked out for a short period, after which he temporarily lost his sight and hearing and was unaware of where he was. This loss of consciousness was an indication that he could shortly fall into a coma.

Bobby was also reported, at the beginning of the week, to be suffering all the symptoms of an advanced hunger strike. By then he was permanently confined to his bed, where he lay on a sheepskin rug to prevent his bones piercing his brittle skin. His body was being rubbed several times each day with oil, in an attempt to ease bed sores.

On Tuesday, when his mother, father and sister Marcella visited him they found him in a very weak condition. His speech was slurred and he had difficulty keeping water in his stomach. He had become unable to read because of his weakening vision and was also having trouble with his hearing.

Nevertheless, Bobby remained as determined as ever to continue with the Hunger Strike. He told his family that he would only end the strike when the British Government conceded the prisoners' demands.

On Wednesday morning, Bobby was again visited by members of his family. Since the previous night at 8pm he had been unable to drink any water.

By Wednesday, his weight had fallen to 7st 5lbs, a loss of 2st 9lbs. He had constant headaches and was having difficulty focusing his vision.

He had very little to say, other than repeating his determination to continue his fast and asking supporters not to forget about his three comrades on hunger strike, especially Frankie Hughes, who was on his 39th day without food.

The condition of the other three hunger strikers, all in the prison hospital, also continued to deteriorate. Frankie Hughes, in his sixth week without food, being the weakest of the three, being very thin, and constantly feeling tired. Raymond McCreesh continued to suffer headaches and eye sores, and Patsy O'Hara had severe stomach pains and, when drinking water, experienced nausea, in their fifth week of hunger strike.

An Phoblacht, Saturday 25 April 1981

An Phoblacht
44 Parnell Sq.
Dublin 1