Who was the first person to die in the 1981 Irish hunger strike at the Maze prison?
The 1981 Irish hunger strike was the culmination of a five-year protest during the Northern Ireland conflict, by Irish republican prisoners in Northern Ireland. The protest began as the blanket protest in 1976, when the British government withdrew Special Category Status for convicted paramilitary prisoners. In 1980, seven prisoners participated in the first hunger strike, which ended after 53 days.
The second hunger strike took place in 1981 and was a showdown between the prisoners and the British Prime Minister, Margaret Thatcher. One hunger striker, Bobby Sands, was elected as a member of parliament during the strike, prompting media interest from around the world. The strike was called off after ten prisoners had starved themselves to death (including Sands) whose funeral was attended by 100,000 people.
On 5 May, Sands died in the prison hospital on the sixty-sixth day of his hunger strike, prompting rioting in nationalist areas of Northern Ireland. Humphrey Atkins issued a statement saying that Sands had committed suicide "under the instructions of those who felt it useful to their cause that he should die".