Bobby Sands mural in the Falls Road (Catholic) neighborhood of West Belfast
Sands was an Irish volunteer of the Provisional Irish Republican Army and was the leader of the 1981 hunger strike in which Irish republican prisoners protested against the removal of Special Category Status. Special category (or "political") status meant prisoners did not have to wear prison uniforms or do prison work, were housed within their paramilitary factions, and were allowed extra visits and food parcels. On 1976 SCS was phased out, so anyone convicted of a political/terrorist-related offense would be treated as an ordinary criminal and would have to wear a prison uniform, do prison work and serve their sentence in the new Maze Prison.
During his strike he was elected as a member of the British Parliament as an Anti H-Block/Armagh Political Prisoner candidate.