“When sorrows come, they come not single spies, but in battalions!”

The quote from Shakespeare’s ‘Hamlet’ certainly seems appropriate for Gerry Adams and the Republican movement. John Burns in the Sunday Times reports in IRA blocked deal to save hunger strikers that the IRA spokesman in the Maze during the Hunger Strikes, Richard O’Rawe, has revealed that acceptable concessions were offered to Gerry Adams before the death of Joe O’Donnell, the fifth man to die, by ‘Mountain Climber’, an emissary of the Thatcher Government but the deal was vetoed by the IRA Army Council.O’Rawe suggests in his book , “Blanketmen, An Untold Story of the H-Block Hunger Strike”, which is published tomorrow that this was because “the IRA wanted to use continuing sympathy for the hunger strikers to win a by-election.”.

“The concessions offered to end the hunger strike were put to Gerry Adams, now the Sinn Fein leader, by a Foreign Office intermediary known as “the Mountain Climber”. His identity remains a mystery.
Thatcher’s government effectively conceded four of the IRA demands including the abolition of prison uniforms, more visits and letters, and segregation of prisoners on political lines. Prison work for IRA men was to have been widely defined to include educational courses and handicrafts. The only point the government refused to concede was free association of prisoners on the IRA wing. “

O’Rawe is blunt :

“Omission, rather than lies, was the order of the day. The leadership never told the hunger strikers’ relatives of Mountain Climber’s intervention and they washed their hands of any responsibility for making or breaking the deal,” he says.

The Hungerstrikes continued, 6 more men died, and were settled on less favourable terms.

O’Rawe is quoted :

“No matter which way one views it, the outside leadership alone, not the prison leadership, took the decision to play brinkmanship with McDonnell’s life. If Bik and I had had our way, Joe and the five comrades who followed him to the grave would be alive today.”

Bik being Brendan ‘Bik’ McFarlane , the IRA prison commander at the Maze, who, according to O’Rawe, felt the terms offered were acceptable.

The article finishes with:

Adams declined to comment until he had read the book, but Danny Morrison, a former republican publicity officer, said O’Rawe’s claims were wrong. He questioned the authenticity of the deal offered by the government and claimed the IRA army council did not run the hunger strike. “The prisoners were sovereign, it was their call.” “

Extract from book.