New Bobby Sands Photos - by Bobby Sands Trust

Incredible photographs of Bobby Sands from August 1976, possibly the last taken of him before his arrest weeks later, have been discovered in the archive of French photographer Gérard Harlay. Gérard covered the conflict between 1972 and 1976 and last March donated his archive (©Gérard Harlay) to, amongst others, the Bobby Sands Trust and the Museum of Free Derry. He plans to display at Féile an Phobail in 2022 (the fiftieth anniversary of him first coming to Ireland) a range of his extraordinary photographs of life in Belfast and Derry back then.

A few weeks ago, former Long Kesh prisoner Richard McAuley was carrying out research for Gerry Adams who was writing a book on the late Máire Drumm (which has just been published – see below). Richard was looking for photographs of Máire and was going through Gérard’s photos when he suddenly recognised Bobby Sands in several shots.

Bobby had been released from Long Kesh in April 1976, just a month after the British government withdrew political status for those arrested after 1st March and convicted of ‘scheduled’ offences.

On 8th August, 1976, Belfast Sinn Féin organised a march from the Busy Bee in Andersonstown to Dunville Park for a public meeting to protest against the withdrawal of political status. It was the first major mobilisation after the ending of Special Category Status the previous March. Days later several of those who attended were arrested and remanded in custody charged with taking part in ‘an illegal procession’, including Máire Drumm.