Bobby Sands comic is ‘one side of story’

The front cover of Gerry Hunt's graphic novel, Bobby Sands Freedom Fighter. INLT-09-703-con
The front cover of Gerry Hunt's graphic novel, Bobby Sands Freedom Fighter. INLT-09-703-con

A historian says a comic book-style novel on Bobby Sands is part of an “ongoing attempt by republicans to change the story of the Troubles”.

Larne man Dr David Hume spoke out over the new book Bobby Sands: Freedom Fighter, by Gerry Hunt.

The Arts Council awarded £5,116 to the publishers O’Brien Press for the book. which tells the story of the IRA hunger striker.

Dr Hume said he was “concerned” at the novel, given the lack of common agreement on a narrative of the Troubles.

“My concern is that this is happening without any sort of consensus on the Troubles,” he told the Times.

“The correlation would be an early novel on Gusty Spence in the UVF.

“If we say that it’s an art form, where does it stop? A lot of things happened on both sides that weren’t very pleasant.

“There is a danger that this novel could be seen as republican propaganda.

“There is a need to explore that period in a sensitive and balanced way and I don’t think this is sensitive or balanced.”

Dr Hume said he was “surprised” at the Arts Council’s decision to fund the book.

“The Arts Council have used public money to fund this and take it into the public realm when there is no consensus over what the Troubles were about, why they happened, who was responsible and how to move forward,” he continued.

“It would be percceived that the republican agenda has heavily romanticised 1916 and the hunger strikers into part of that narrative.

“There is a danger that this book glamourises terrorism.

“As a society, we need to be a bit more mature, we need to look at causes and effects of the past 40 years of the Troubles and you can’t do that in a graphic novel.

“There’s nothing comic about it, it’s a very sensitive issue”.

Dr Hume said he felt there was a danger that the comic book could influence young people.

“Young people who don’t know the whole background will get a certain view, and the pen is mightier than the sword,” he stated

Sinn Féin councillor James McKeown said: “Bobby Sands is regarded as a hero by many around the world.

“Parliaments stood in silence at his death; streets are named after him and people took to the streets in many countries in support of him.”

An Arts Council spokesperson commented: “We do not interfere with editorial content, nor do we draw a line regarding content chosen by publishers which may attract controversy.”