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Bobby Sands was an Irish nationalist who led a hunger strike in prison in 1981. He was elected Member of Parliament during the strike and died May 5, 1981.
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Unable to move authorities to give in to his requests, and unwilling himself to end his hunger strike, Sands's health began to deteriorate. During the first 17 days of the strike alone, he lost 16 pounds.
A hero among his fellow nationalists, Sands was elected as a Member of Parliament for Fermanagh and South Tyrone. To the shock of Unionists, he won more than 52 percent of the vote in the North Ireland. While cheered by the victory,
Sands seem to know that he was destined to be a martyr.
Only days after slipping into a coma, on the morning of May 5, 1981, Sands died from malnutrition due to starvation. He was 27 years old, and had refused to eat for 66 days. He'd become so fragile over his final weeks, he spent his final days on a water bed to protect his deteriorating and fragile body. At time of his death, Sands was married to Geraldine Noade, with whom he had one son, Gerard.
While loyalists dismissed Sands's death, others were quick to recognize its significance. Over the next seven months, nine other IRA supporters died on a hunger strike. Eventually, the British government gave proper political recognition to the prisoners, many of them earning their release under the 1998 Good Friday agreement.
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The 1980s were an important era in London marked by several significant social and historical events. On July 29, 1981 the United Kingdom saw the wedding of Prince Charles and Princess Diana. The new Princess of Wales soon became a cultural icon—noted for her patronage, charity work and refined sense of fashion. Another history maker, Margaret Thatcher, served as Britain's first female prime minister, soon establishing herself as the authoritative "Iron Lady." Biography.com looks at these powerful women and the many other figures of the '80s, who made their mark on the decade.
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