Prison diary kept by IRA hunger striker Bobby Sands used to help create film
A film on the IRA hunger striker Bobby Sands has used his diaries to portray a determined and sincere man who fasted to death.
Sixty Six Days was produced to give younger people a sense of the emotions and political tensions surrounding one of the defining episodes of the Troubles.
It is 35 years since the Maze prison inmate starved himself as part of a republican campaign for political status.
Sands was hailed a martyr by his supporters while Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher vowed never to bow to the demands of terrorists, and unionists recalled IRA attacks on prison officers and killings committed even while Sands stood for election to Westminster.
Beginning his action the prisoner recorded: "I am standing on the threshold of another trembling world. May God have mercy on my soul."
Sands' own words form the heart of the documentary-style work, through his many poems, letters and communications penned inside prison, and in particular, his personal diary which he kept for the first 17 days of his hunger strike.
He wrote: "Human food can never keep a man alive forever and I console myself with the thought that I will get a great feed up above if I am worthy."
The film by Irish director Brendan Byrne will premier in Belfast at the West Belfast Festival later this summer and will be aired at the Galway film festival this weekend.
Mr Byrne spoke to prison officers, Mrs Thatcher's biographer Charles Moore and Conservative MP Norman Tebbit.
He also interviewed many republicans who shared the H Blocks with Sands and dwelt at length on the reaction to the hunger strike outside the prison.
Mr Byrne said: "I have tried to make it more than just about Bobby Sands, really an exploration of the republican tradition in Ireland through the lens of Bobby Sands."
Sands was sent to prison for possession of a gun. The programme portrayed him inside his cell, hearing the birds outside and thinking of his childhood.
Sinn Fein president Gerry Adams described Sands as a modest man who was troubled by the sectarian nature of society.
He read Irish republican history, when others inside were dreaming of Cuban revolutionary leader Che Guevara or China's Mao Tse-tung.
By 1981 he had become officer commanding of an IRA which maintained its structure inside prison and became the first to go on hunger strike to death, which followed an abortive action some months earlier.
It came after a dirty protest in which excrement was smeared on walls and urine thrown at warders.
In the words of one prison officer: "We were working in an open sewer with 40 people who wanted to kill us."
Maze governor Albert Miles had been killed by the IRA a few years previously.
Every day, prison officers brought Sands food, sometimes pie and beans, the beans falling off the plate.
In the words of one warder if he wanted to commit suicide it was up to him but they were not going to help him.
Fintan O'Toole, literary editor at the Irish Times, said Sands' was a moral action grounded in sincerity, an "old fashioned, almost Victorian, sense of duty".
Mr Byrne invited viewers to explore the different narratives and challenge themselves.