FAO Those following the hunger strike controversy: As noted yesterday, the Derry Journal had carried a rather confused piece quoting Richard O’Rawe’s cellmate, Colm Scullion, in the wake of the claims by Eamon McCann. Today, they refer to complaints made by O’Rawe and carry an instant rebuttal from Greg Harkin. The heart of the matter comes down to semantics over the words “deal” and “offer”, as Harkin writes, “Mr O’Rawe’s entire argument rests on what constituted a ‘deal’ or ‘offer'”.
However, that misses the point of O’Rawe’s issue. The argument about “deal” and “offer” is a semantic cul de sac that ultimately goes nowhere as what emerges is that there was an “offer”, or “proposal” or “deal” or whatever term you want to use, that came into the prison from the British. O’Rawe’s issues rest on the acceptance of that offer by the prisoners, i.e., he and Bik agreeing there was enough there, and sending word out. What happened from that point is what is causing the problems, and to focus on anything else loses the plot. Obviously the prisoners’ acceptance as O’Rawe recalls it was over-ruled. Why? And if it was as simple as the fear of the British not upholding their end of things, then why not say that from the start? Why the rush to rubbish O’Rawe, and divert the discussion with forensic examination of semantic cul de sacs? Colm Scullion confirming there was an offer but no deal doesn’t add anything new, other than to confirm that O’Rawe’s claims about the offer he says they accepted did exist. If the prisoners’ acceptance was overruled by the Hunger Strike committee on the outside, of course there would be no deal.
When his book came out, we started from a position of having the offer denied. The outcome, of course, was always that there was no deal made. Now we have the offer O’Rawe wrote of confirmed. So what happened to the acceptance? That has always been O’Rawe’s question.