Northern Ireland news

Cambridge University Labour club sorry for sharing Bobby Sands quote post from republican group

A mural depicting hunger striker Bobby Sands. Picture by Mal McCann
Paul Ainsworth

A STUDENT Labour club at one of the UK's most prestigious universities has apologised for sharing an online post quoting IRA hunger striker Bobby Sands and describing Britain as an "oppressor".

A row erupted among rival political societies at Cambridge University after the institution's Labour club shared a post from socialist republican group Lasair Dhearg on Instagram.

The post commemorated the 42nd anniversary of the H-Block hunger strikes and featured a quote from Bobby Sands stating "Generations will continue to meet the same fate unless the perennial oppressor - Britain - is removed".

The quote from Mr Sands, who led the hunger strikes and who died in 1981, adds Britain would "maintain her occupation and economic exploitation of Ireland to judgment day, if she is not halted and ejected".

Lasair Dhearg - which in 2020 erected posters at bus shelters in Belfast condemning "Britain's occupation of Ireland" and erected street signs in the city featuring the names of republican icons including Bobby Sands and Wolfe Tone - published the Instagram post in June.

The group last year wrote to schools across the north demanding to know how they would "safeguard" pupils against visiting PSNI officers and warning against youngsters being used as part of a police "public relations strategy".

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The sharing of the recent Lasair Dhearg post by the Cambridge University Labour Club has led to reported divisions within the group, and prompted criticism from the university's Conservative Association.


Republican group Lasair Dhearg erected posters at bus stops in Belfast in 2020 condemning the security force 'occupation of Ireland'. Picture by Mal McCann


The student Tory society slammed the post as "profoundly irresponsible" and described Lasair Dhearg as a "lamentable political force".

The Conservative club added the post was "especially inappropriate" in the wake of the recent PSNI data breach scandal, due to Lasair Dhearg's opposition to the force in the north.

Cambridge University's Varsity student newspaper reported that members of the Labour club had "clashed" over the post, and said its publicity officer had stepped down in the wake of the row.

The Labour club said in a statement to Varsity that the post was shared "by mistake, without any knowledge of the beliefs and affiliations" of Lasair Dhearg.

A spokesperson praised the Good Friday Agreement in the statement, describing it as "one of the greatest achievements of Labour in government" and said the club condemns any group "which attempts to frustrate that hard-won peace".

“We value and recognise the validity of the resulting criticism”, the spokesperson said, adding that it would ensure “no such mistake can happen again”.

The Irish News contacted Cambridge University for a response.


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