In 1981, on this day Robert Sands was elected as Member of Parliament in a by-election for the Fermanagh and South Tyrone district of Northern Ireland, on a ticket for "The Worker's Party of Ireland".
"Our revenge will be the laughter of our children" by Gerry ShannonSands' election is historical for several reasons. At age 29, he is the youngest MP ever elected in the United Kingdom, but he is yet another electoral success for the Marxist-Leninist Worker's Party - a further vindication of the far left strategy persued by party leaders Cathal Goulding and Sean Garland following the split in the republican Sinn Féin party in 1970. The party most notably has a parliamilitary wing, the Official Irish Republican Army, of which Sands was a member until it's permanent ceasefire in 1972.
In his victory speech, Sands claims: "Our revenge will be the laughter of our children". In this oft-repeated phrase by his admirers in the decades after, Sands made clear his intention to destroy the inequality amongst the working class of the Unionist-dominated state forever when he took his seat in the power-sharing government in Stormont. (The power-sharing executive had been in place since the Sunningdale Agreement of 1973).
He would keep his seat through subsequent elections until resigning to become a candiate in the 1990 presidential election for the twenty-six counties of the Republic of Ireland. Sands was the shared nominee for the Worker's Party and Labour. Sands would win, and would serve the fourteen years of two terms as President until leaving office in 2004 - quite possibly the most popular holder of the title of President thus far in the history of the Irish Republic. Outside of political life, Sands would also become a semi-regular author of several collections of short stories and poetry, mostly written in Irish.