The sudden vacancy in a seat with a nationalist majority of about 5,000 was a valuable opportunity for Sands's supporters "to raise public consciousness". Pressure not to split the vote led other nationalist parties, notably the Social Democratic and Labour Party, to withdraw, and Sands was nominated on the label "Anti H-Block/Armagh Political Prisoner". After a highly polarised campaign, Sands narrowly won the seat on 9 April 1981, with 30,493 votes to 29,046 for the Ulster Unionist Party candidate Harry West. Sands became the youngest MP at the time. Sands died in prison less than a month later, without ever having taken his seat in the Commons.
Following Sands's election win, the British government introduced the Representation of the People Act 1981 which prevents prisoners serving jail terms of more than one year in either the UK or the Republic of Ireland from being nominated as candidates in British elections. The enactment of the law, as a response to the election of Sands, consequently prevented other hunger strikers from being elected to the House of Commons." Pretty accurate for Wiki I'd say.
"Robert Gerard Sands (..Roibeárd Gearóid Ó Seachnasaigh..) (..9 March 1954 – 5 May 1981..) was a member of the Provisional Irish Republican Army who died on hunger strike while imprisoned at HM Prison Maze after being sentenced for firearms possession. Sands was born in 1954 to Roman Catholic parents, John (died 2014) and Rosaleen (died 2018), who were both raised in Belfast. After marrying, they relocated to the new development of Abbots Cross, Newtownabbey, County Antrim, outside North Belfast. Sands was the eldest of four children. His younger sisters, Marcella and Bernadette, were born in 1955 and 1958, respectively. He also had a younger brother, John, born 1962.
After experiencing harassment and intimidation from their neighbours, the family abandoned the development and moved in with friends for six months before being granted housing in the nearby Rathcoole development. Rathcoole was 30% Catholic and featured Catholic schools as well as a nominally Catholic but religiously-mixed youth football club, an unusual circumstance in Northern Ireland, known as Stella Maris, the same as the school Sands attended and where the training was held. Sands was a member of this club and played left-back. There was another youth club in nearby Greencastle called Star of the Sea and many boys went there when the Stella Maris club closed.
By 1966, sectarian violence in Rathcoole, along with the rest of Belfast, had considerably worsened, and the minority Catholic population there found itself under siege. Despite always having had Protestant friends, Sands suddenly found that none of them would even speak to him, and he quickly learned to associate only with Catholics.
He left school in 1969 at age 15, and enrolled in Newtownabbey Technical College, beginning an apprenticeship as a coach builder at Alexander's Coach Works in 1970. He worked there for less than a year, enduring constant harassment from his Protestant co-workers, which according to several co-workers he ignored completely, as he wished to learn a meaningful trade. He was eventually confronted after leaving his shift in January 1971 by a number of his coworkers wearing the armbands of the local Ulster loyalist tartan gang. He was held at gunpoint and told that Alexander's was off-limits to "Fenian scum" and to never come back if he valued his life. This event, by Sands's admission, proved to be the point at which he decided that militancy was the only solution.
In June 1972, Sands's parents' home was attacked and damaged by a loyalist mob and they were again forced to move, this time to the West Belfast Catholic area of Twinbrook, where Sands, now thoroughly embittered, rejoined them. He attended his first Provisional IRA meeting in Twinbrook that month and joined the IRA the same day. He was 18 years old. By 1973, almost every Catholic family had been driven out of Rathcoole by violence and intimidation, although there were some who remained. The 1981 Irish hunger strike started with Sands refusing food on 1 March 1981. Sands decided that other prisoners should join the strike at staggered intervals to maximise publicity, with prisoners steadily deteriorating successively over several months. The hunger strike centred on five demands:
the right not to wear a prison uniform;
the right not to do prison work;
the right of free association with other prisoners, and to organise educational and recreational pursuits;
the right to one visit, one letter, and one parcel per week;
full restoration of remission lost through the protest.
The significance of the hunger strike was the prisoners' aim of being considered political prisoners as opposed to criminals. Shortly before Sands's death, The Washington Post reported that the primary aim of the hunger strike was to generate international publicity. In late 1980, Sands was chosen Officer Commanding of the Provisional IRA prisoners in the Maze Prison, succeeding Brendan Hughes who was participating in the first hunger strike. Republican prisoners organised a series of protests seeking to regain their previous Special Category Status, which would free them from some ordinary prison regulations. This began with the "blanket protest" in 1976, in which the prisoners refused to wear prison uniforms and wore blankets instead. In 1978, after a number of attacks on prisoners leaving their cells to "slop out" (i.e., empty their chamber pots), this escalated into the "dirty protest", wherein prisoners refused to wash and smeared the walls of their cells with excrement." https://www.facebook.com/continuitysinnfein/posts/2134378346797237/
With a name like Gerard Kevin (Francis), Hales I'm not likely to forget...Sands became an M.P that alone should have given the lie to U.K Govt's policies...it did not...the peace process was always going to be partial, to be compromised because there were no truly independent arbitrators/negotiators....the last thing anyone needed was U.S involvement but we got it....this country sucks.