AP/ Peter Morrison
February 19, 2008
Hard-line IRA commander Brendan Hughes, Feb. 19
Brendan "The Dark" Hughes, the hard-line Irish Republican Army commander who split with former comrades when they pursued compromise and peace in Northern Ireland, has died and was cremated in West Belfast, Northern Ireland, on Tuesday, Feb. 19, 2008. He was 59. Hughes was the IRA's commander inside the Maze prison from 1976 to 1980, when he led a 53-day hunger strike seeking "political prisoner" status for the inmates. Here, Sinn Fein President Gerry Adams, right, helps carry Hughes' coffin outside St. Peter's Cathedral in Catholic West Belfast on Tuesday. Hughes and Adams were arrested together in July 1973 and jailed without trial. Hughes, reputed to be one of the IRA's most determined gunmen and bank robbers, escaped after six months. Hughes later became the IRA's commanding officer inside the Maze prison, where he oversaw a six-year campaign to force British authorities to concede them status as "political prisoners." It failed. He was replaced as IRA commander in the prison by Bobby Sands, who starved to death with nine other inmates in a 1981 hunger strike. That campaign failed, too.