Bernie Sanders asked Margaret Thatcher to ‘stop humiliation’ of IRA prisoners

Irish Republican and US presidential hopeful made plea in 1981, while serving as Mayor of Burlington, Vermont

Friday 19 February 2016 10:00
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Mr Sanders was also on the mailing list of the Vermont Committee for Irish Human Rights
Mr Sanders was also on the mailing list of the Vermont Committee for Irish Human Rights

Bernie Sanders wrote to Margaret Thatcher asking her to “‘stop the abuse, humiliation and degrading treatment” of Irish prisoners on hunger strike in Northern Ireland, it has emerged.

Mr Sanders, an Irish Republican and US presidential hopeful, made the plea in 1981, while serving as Mayor of Burlington, Vermont, according to The Telegraph.

His letter asked Mrs Thatcher “to end [her] intransigent policy towards the prisoners before the reputation of the British people for fair play and simple decency is further damaged in the eyes of the people of Vermont and the United States".

Co-signed by Burlington alderman Terry Bouricius, the letter added that they were “deeply disturbed by [the] Government’s unwillingness to stop the abuse, humiliation and degrading treatment of the Irish prisoners now on hunger strikes in Northern Ireland".

Mr Sanders was also on the mailing list of the Vermont Committee for Irish Human Rights and wrote a letter in November 1983 urging the case of another hunger striker, Nicky Kelly, who was convicted of armed robbery in Dublin, be reopened.

The letters was among correspondence found in a political archive held by the University of Vermont, which also revealed the strong influence of the Irish Republican movement in the region during the 1980s.

The IRA hunger strike was a culmination of a five-year protest by convicted parliamentary prisoners and resulted in the death of 10 inmates.

Mr Sanders is not the only American presidential hopeful to have links with the Irish Republican movement.

Donald Trump was filmed attending a Sinn Fein fundraiser and shaking hands with Gerry Adams in New York in 1995.

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