At the end of The Troubles, in the Maze prison in Northern Ireland on March 1st, 1981, the second hunger strike of republican prisoners began with Bobby Sands’ refusal of food. The protesters contested the removal of Special Category Status for prisoners convicted of IRA criminality; Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher was determined to not capitulate to their demands.
Sands’ election to the House of Commons on April 9th helped raise awareness of the hunger strike. He died on May 5th at the age of 27 after 66 days without food. Nine more hunger strikers died after him. Protests erupted the world over.
All these years later, with the Queen slated to visit Dublin next month, and impending Northern Ireland Assembly elections scheduled for May 5th, it is feared that there are “as many as 30 distinct groups opposed to the peace process operating across Norther Ireland” and preparing for violence during the month.