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30 years on

Here's what they died for.

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 organize educational and recreational pursuits; the right to one visit, one letter and one parcel per week; full restoration of remission lost through the dirty protest.

Given all that has passed these past three decades the demands made by Bobby Sands and his fellow hunger strikers seem of little consequence. What price would the British government have really paid if they had simply said sure, okay, no problem?

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At the end of it all, tragically, the price paid by the hunger strikers themselves was immeasurable.

The payment was ratcheted up to new heights three decades ago this week with the death of Bobby Sands, a member of the British Parliament, and it continued to be paid in those early summer days as, one by one, nine other young men went to early graves after unspeakable suffering for rights that, yes, would have acknowledged that they were not regular, everyday prisoners, but would also have acknowledged that the Northern Ireland Troubles were not a regular, everyday security situation.

That acknowledgment was to follow years later with the Good Friday Agreement and has been acknowledged pretty well every day since.

This week we remember Bobby Sands and the others, the young men who died for what was seemingly so little, but which was so much to others that it could not be granted.

We have moved on. We have gained so much and if this continues to hold true it is possible to say that the hunger strikers of 1981 may not have completely died in vain.

This we hope, each and every day. Let peace be their eternal legacy.