Illustration of a person's head with yellow hair and a light brown beard and mustache on a green background with black text along the top edge
This button refers to the 1981 Irish hunger strike that was the culmination of a five-year protest during The Troubles by Irish republican prisoners in Northern Ireland. Long Kesh Detention Centre, now known as Her Majesty’s Prison Maze, was a prison that was used to house paramilitary prisoners (mostly members of the IRA). One of the local names for the prison was the H Blocks and it was reportedly run like a prisoner of war camp. In the late 1970s, prisoners stages protests against their treatment and aimed to re-establish their political status by demanding certain rights, including the right to not wear a prison uniform. Their protests did not initially garner much attention, but in 1980, several prisoners volunteered to be part of a hunger strike. The second hunger strike began in 1981 when the IRA’s former commanding officer, Bobby Sands, refused food. It was a showdown between the prisoners and Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher. Bobby Sands was actually elected as a Member of Parliament during the strike, prompting media interest from around the world. Sands’ death on the 66th day of his hunger strike prompted rioting in nationalist areas of Northern Ireland. The strike radicalized Irish nationalist politics and was the driving form that enabled Sinn Féin to become a mainstream political party.