Dispute over hunger strikes rumbles on…

Liam Clarke at the weekend wrote an opinion piece which backs Richard O’Rawe’s claim that the H Block hunger strikes were sustained over an artifically long period to ensure the election of Owen Carron, Bobby Sands’ election agent. An Phoblacht this week provides some of its readers with the opportunity to refute O’Rawe’s allegation. Hat tip to Balrog.

  • tom luby

    if this is the best that the provos can do, then god help them;
    game, set and match to o’rawe methinks.

  • Circles

    Depends on the match you’re watching tom. I mean O’Rawe has blown his credibility out of the water by not informing the families, publishing in the Sunday Times and in the light of his relatively small part in the whole drama.
    The jury is still out on this one for me.

  • Pat Mc Larnon

    The person with the main insight into what happened on the hunger strike is undoubtedly Bik Mc Farlane. Even O Rawe has the common sense to recognise it. The book is scattered with ‘me and Bik said this’ and ‘me and Bik said that’. Quite a clever ploy as most people associate Mc Farlane with the hunger strike, while nobody had ever heard of O Rawe.
    Clever until, that is, Mc Farlane states the book is a load of old crap and then it’s Bik is a bastard. Sure he’s in SF whadya expect. Quite funny really.

  • tom luby

    why should he have to inform the families? writing the book was the best way of telling them what happened – and when it comes to not informing the families that’s a charge that could be levelled at adams et al for a) not telling them about mountain climber’s involvement and b) the fact that he twice offered the ira leadership a deal to settle the protest;
    the provos have tied themselves in knots here which is what always happens when people fail to co-ordinate their lies – on the one hand danny morrison admits mountain climber offered a deal but says there was a dealy while it was checked out while mcfarlane says there was no offer at all;
    wriggle as you provos might there is no getting away from the fact that while maggie thatcher killed four of the hunger strikers adams killed the other six and out of that betrayal of his comrades came the foundations of the peace process, another episode characterised by lies and deception; your leaders are monsters and your stupidity for blindly following them defies the power of language.

  • PS

    Tom Luby

    Was Richard O’Rawe on the same wing as martin hurson and if not, why did he say he was?

  • Dec

    Why did he wait 24 years to tell his tale?

  • Davros

    Same reasons as the Provos and SF took so long to own up about the disappeared Dec ?

  • Mick Fealty

    Tom et al. Let’s not forgo the substance for a slanging match!

    There are clear contradictions between what McFarland and O’Rawe recall of the time. There was a fascinating three way ding dong on Talk Back a few weeks ago between the two and Danny Morrison.

    Might it be worth posting a short transcription to see where the accounts diverge?

    My remembrance was that O’Rawe at the was careful not put the primary blame on Sinn Fein, but on Margaret Thatcher.

  • tom luby

    clearly you provos who are contributing to this debate have not read his book otherwise you wouldn’t ask such fatuous questions – part of the reason why he waited 24 years to tell his story was that he was told if he opened his mouth he would be shot – the other reason is that the time was just not right but with the progress of the peace process he felt safer to come out in public.

    indeed motivation is the key to who is telling the truth here

    – he has two pieces of evidence to back up his story – one is a comm from mcfarlane accepting the mountain climber’s deal written after morrison’s visit to thge jail and after he had conferred with o’rawe

    – that comm has gone missing and this means that the absolute proof of who is telling the truth cannot be established, it will always be a ‘he said, they said’ argument

    – the other peice of evidence, a compelling piece, is his account of a visit to the prison hospital by adams and carron after pressure from fr faul and the families to end the protest

    – adams went in and said essentially its up to you guys and did so, i suspect, because he knew none of the hunger strikers would want to let dead comrades down and so the fast continued, the fermanagh-south tyrone pact with the sdlp survived, carron was elected, adams was able to launch the electoral strategy and the rest is history

    – o’rawe quotes an interview given by the late pat mcgeown, a hunger striker at the time, to padraig o’malley for his book ‘biting at the grave’ in which pat mcgeown reveals that he was told by mcfarlane to keep quiet during adams’ visit and not to bring up his view that the strike should end

    – but what is o’rawe’s motivation in writing this book since it can only cause him and his family problems and lead to his isolation in west belfast

    – if he has a motivation it would surely have been to keep the story to himself, that would have been the easiest way out;
    but the motives of adams, morrison and mcfarlane are easy to see by comparison – between them they killed six of their comrades and they have to keep lying about it;

    as for talkback there has been much more written and said since then and i think any ob jective assessment would be that a) that the provos have been caught out lying and b) o’rawe’s book is utterly convincing;

  • mickhall

    Before people enter into arguments on what is or not claimed in this book, I would advise anyone who is interested in this titanic struggle to read Richard O’Rawe’s book first. It is not expensive and even if you end up disagreeing with his perspective, I guarantee you will come away with much from the book.(I am that confident about it) Without wishing to sound arrogant, I really do recommend it to all, it is a fine piece of work. Leave your politics at the door, read the book and then by all means lets argue about the books content.


  • tom luby

    who censored my last post? how dare you without consulting me! – i said that the leaders of the republican movement are monsters and that is a legitimate view – you can’t say it is libellous because no-one was named – just who the hell do you think you are?

  • SlugFest

    Mr. Luby:

    Perhaps your opening line of ‘you provos’ is a bit much, no?

    Also, as one of the two pieces of evidence has ‘gone missing,’ we must only look at the remaining one — which is intangible at best.

    O’Rawe’s book? Pretty convincing. Definitely thought-provoking.

    But i think you miss the point of what O’Rawe was saying — he claims it was the prisoners (and thereby Republican Movement, no?) that were duped by Adams and Co.

    For you to then attack everyone on this post that you assume to be nationalist/republican — based on what O’Rawe wrote — is wrong.

    It’s time that we, the onlookers, as well as those actively involved in so-called Sinn Fein ‘politics,’ learn to separate Adams from the ideals of nationalism. Stand down the old boy, and you might just find some decent nationalists in the SF movement.

  • cg

    tom luby

    Are you on medication or do you normally howl into the night?

  • SlugFest


    damn. wish i had thought of that. ;

  • StrayToaster

    mr. luby:

    Why do you think you have the right to free expression here? You don’t. It is a privilege to be able to put comments here, not a right.

    if you want the right to say whatever you want, start your own blog. This is not a public forum with protected rights. It is run by Mick, and what he says goes. If he wants to ban anyone for any arbitary reason (not that he does, mind) he can. His right.

    You do not need to be consulted here. Remember that. Or, better yet, get your own blog and vent there.

  • levitas

    Mr Luby appears to be losing the plot,there really is no need to get so worked up. Some people agree with you, some do not, sometimes editors edit, thats life. Lie down in your cot and get a good nights sleep, you will feel better in the morning.

  • Mick Fealty

    Tom, it was me. I took onr short line out of an v interesting post. I’m not interested in providing a platform for people to launch personal attacks against anyone, whatever the wider consensus!

    Argument is something else.

  • paddyjoe

    was richard o rawe on the same wing as martin hurston?

    Martin Hurston was on the same wing as Richard for at least 2 years they were in H-3 together. I know because i shared the same wing as them. Martin was then brought back to the Crumlin road prison because he was granted a retrial, his retrial resulted in his original sentence being upheld, he was brought back to the H-b;ocks this time being placed in H-5. I as an ordinary blanketman do not think there is one ounce of truth in the book richard wrote, and apart from money cannot for the life of me see any reason for it.

  • Davros

    paddyjoe – not being difficult here – but as an “ordinary blanketman” could you dare believe what Mr O’Rawe wrote ?

  • cg


    I had family on the blanket at the same time and they told me it was bullshit as well.

  • tom luby

    mick fealty
    yes i thought it was you;
    suggesting that the leaders of the provisional movement are monsters IS an argument and a perfectly reasonable and valid one, which is held by more and more as details of their disgusting history become more plentiful;
    i suggest to you that if someone on the website had said that hitler and the nazis were monsters or that stalin and his appatchiks were monsters you would not describe this as a personal attack but a valid argument – let’s face it mick, the reason you censored my post is that you’re a closet provo who finds the notion that the great bearded monster might have killed more hunger strikers than thatcher an ‘appalling vista’, something you just cannot bring yourself to accept – but that’s what this is about. disappearing jean mcconville and killing six of your own comrades surely qualifies for monsterhood and if it doesn’t then nothing does. and that’s all we know so far!

  • cg

    It is official, Luby has lost the plot

    To describe Mick as a “closet Provo” is laughable LOL

    Luby you are clearly unbalanced and I thought Ulsterman was nuts!

    I have nothing but respect for Mick

    And in my best Belfast accent “Oih, good wan wee man, catch yourself on”

  • Davros

    I reckon that deserves a red card. Disgraceful attack on Mick.

  • Pat Mc Larnon

    Can’t blame Tom for being what he is, no more than blaming the weasel for killing a goose.

    Tom’s usual port of call is The Blanket, a site were the personal attacks on SF leaders is not just welcome but positively encouraged. However, to point that simple fact leads to the charge of strangulation of intellectualism and demonisation.

  • SlugFest

    Pat McLarnon,

    Funny you should say that … the latest issue of the Blanket (which i find to be a well-written, interesting, and alternative Republican view — few and far between, if you ask me) has a book review of “Blanketmen.”

  • tom luby

    I reckon that deserves a red card. Disgraceful attack on Mick.

    Posted by: Davros

    see how the authoritarianism and autocracy comes straight out whenever there is the slightest hint of dissent or criticism – the first instinct of people like davros is to silence and censor different voices just like the sf/ira leadership – and these are the sort of people who should be in government!!!?? no way, jose!

  • Mick Fealty

    Red card? I think not. Tom, I didn’t think what you said was libelous. I thought what much of what you said was important. You may have noticed I took the trouble to fix its typography up a little to make it easier to read.

    You can argue whatever you like about GA’s actions, historical and contemporary roles, or offer a critical perspective on anything he says. It matters not to me. In fact I would encourage people to go into any argument as toughly as they can.

    But simply calling people monsters is playing the man, rather than the ball.

    You are not the only one who’s done it. Most of the regulars here have vented (not unreasonable) spleen over their own particular bete noir at one time or another.

    Not that I’ve ever spoken to GA, but in talking to some of the journalists, politicians and commentators who have been mentioned here, I know that most do not mind if their arguments are pulled apart on Slugger. But they all, without exception, dislike being attacked personally.

    I can’t police Slugger 24/7. So I largely have to appeal to the good grace of all posters.

  • Baslamak


    The Blanket review, mentioned above of the book, BLANKETMEN
    An Untold Story of the H-Block Hunger Strike by
    RICHARD O’RAWE is here.


  • tom luby

    mick fealty:
    so then tell me just what word you would use to describe someone who put jean mcconville in a hole for 30 years and repeatedly lied about it, even to her eldest daughter’s face, and killed six of his hunger-striker comrades so as to get into electoral politics? its not personal to attach the tag monster to such a person, its political just as it is political to call stalin or hitler monsters because what they did earned them that description.
    i come back to my initial point about your covert politics – if someone had posted a message calling thatcher a monster, or paisley or the shankill butchers or the uda would you have responded in the same way? you gave yourself away in such a clear way you were asking for it to be highlighted.

  • Mick Fealty


    This is a shared space. I’ve found that some simple rules of engagement can enable inveterate opponents to talk and exchange verbal blows here in a way that’s simply not open to them elsewhere.

    I’m happy for you to confront your political opponents on Slugger with facts. Just leave the insulting epithets out of it and concentrate on getting your argument to do the work for you!

    The Editor

  • George

    it a huge insult to the victims of German fascism, of which there were tens of millions, to compare Gerry Adams, Sinn Fein or the IRA to Adolf Hitler and the NSDAP.

    It is part and parcel of a ever more common process of belittling Nazi crimes by comparing them with even the most minor of events such as the killing of a working-class mother in 1972.

  • Mick Fealty

    Boys. It seems like a good time to invoke Godwin’s Law.

  • Belfast Gonzo


    It’s not what you say, it’s how you say it that bugs people. You’ll get a lot more respect if you calm down.

    And for your information, you don’t have to name someone for them to sue you for libel (although that is highly unlikely in this instance.)

  • tom luby

    mick fealty
    so where’s my last posting? or are we now into intolerance and silencing?

    re gonzo:
    this is a subject for passion – you may not mind having monsters in your government but sure as hell i do!

  • Mick Fealty


    I haven’t seen it. Please post again.

  • SlugFest

    Mr. Luby:

    I just don’t get you … the articles you’ve written on The Blanket, while i can’t say i agree entirely with them, are at least well thought out as well as well-written. In this string, however, you sound like a raving lunatic, thereby automatically losing credibility, as those who are confident in their beliefs can usually make their point made in a clear, concise, and calm manner.

    What’s the deal? Is Anthony McIntyre spending all his free time editing your work?

    (Sorry, Mick Fealty … that’s definitely playing the ball, but i can’t resist)

  • SlugFest

    whoops. meant that’s definitely playing the MAN, not ball.

    never was one for sports.

  • Davros

    I just don’t get you … the articles you’ve written on The Blanket, while i can’t say i agree entirely with them, are at least well thought out as well as well-written. In this string, however, you sound like a raving lunatic, thereby automatically losing credibility, as those who are confident in their beliefs can usually make their point made in a clear, concise, and calm manner.

    Well said Slugfest.

  • SlugFest

    Why thank you, Davros.