Upcoming Debate: “What is the Truth Behind the Hunger Strike?”

Briefly: This Saturday, 7:00 at the Gasyard in Derry, an open meeting organised by Republican Network for Unity is to be held examining the events of the 1981 hunger strike, specifically the contention that the prisoners accepted a deal that was overruled by the outside leadership, after which six further men died on hunger strike. Confirmed speakers include Brendan Duddy, Willie Gallagher, Richard O’Rawe, and Liam Clarke. Danny Morrison refused to participate. Invitations were also issued to Bik McFarlane and Gerry Adams, who have not responded. In a taste of what is to come this weekend, earlier today, Richard O’Rawe and former (1980) hunger striker Raymond McCartney were interviewed by Sarah Brett on Radio Foyle. This interview will be available on the BBC website for a week (it is also archived on YouTube: Part 1 & Part 2), and starts close to the beginning of the programme. In yesterday’s Belfast Telegraph, Brian Rowan quotes Brendan Duddy and an un-named source with “considerable knowledge of the Mountain Climber initiative” who puts forth the Morrison argument in regards to the controversy – the semantical, chimeric word play of the difference between an ‘offer’ and a ‘deal’ and how many angels are dancing on the head of a pin. Duddy, it seems, holds to the view, initially relayed by Eamonn McCann, that the outside leadership was incompetent, and, like Raymond McCartney in the Radio Foyle interview, endorses Sile Darragh’s talking points, which first emerged, in part, in an anonymous comment on Anthony McIntyre’s blog. Sile Darragh, like Morrison, McFarlane and Gibney, is a member of the Bobby Sands Trust and her letter seems to be the newest leadership line, as it is pushed in Rowan’s article and McCartney also followed it in today’s radio discussion. Unfortunately, it doesn’t offer much beyond Morrison’s semantical argument which seems to get destroyed bit by bit as more information continues to come out. Meanwhile, in Rowan’s article, the anonymous source shifts the blame to the prisoners themselves. This shift is interesting as O’Rawe claims that the prisoners accepted the deal, and now a source close to the negotiations claims that the prisoners were naive, inexperienced and incapable of “making a judgment”, which seems to be a backhanded defence of why the outside leadership would have over-ruled them – because they thought they knew better than the prisoners themselves. Inch by inch, are we getting closer to the truth of what happened in July, 1981?

Earlier on Slugger:

When in a hole… Contrasts between Danny Morrison’s position and previously published accounts of the time

What were the hunger strikers told? Questions emerge that cast doubt on what the hunger strikers knew when about what negotiations were being conducted on their behalf by the Adams subcommittee.

“Let’s have the whole truth” – Danny Morrison and Richard O’Rawe statements

Did Thatcher Kill All 10 or Only 4? – contains statements and interview excerpts

Links and background:

1986 excerpt from interview with John Blelloch, Mi5, by Padraig O’Malley (Bobby Sands Trust website)
“The Blelloch Interview”, Anthony McIntyre

Sunday 5 April 09:
‘Adams Complicit Over Hunger Strikers?’
NIO Documents on Sunday Times website
“The Thatcher Intervention”, Anthony McIntyre
IRSP Statement in response to NIO documents

Monday, 6 April 09:
Irish News: Hunger Strike deal ‘must be disclosed’
Irish Times: SF denies claims on hunger strike deaths
Radio Foyle, The Morning Programme (link lasts a week): Willie Gallagher, IRSP and Danny Morrison, begins @ 8 mins
Response from Kevin McQuillan to comments made by Danny Morrison in the Radio Foyle interview; scroll down a bit.

Tuesday, 7 April 09:
Irish News: Morrison rubbishes renewed claims of Hunger Strike deal
Bobby Sands Trust: Documents Still Withheld

Previously on Slugger:
O’Rawe’s account confirmed: Hunger Strikers Allowed To Die (28 March 08)
Eamon McCann verifies Richard O’Rawe’s account of the 1981 hunger strike in which he alleges that six of the hunger strikers need not have died as the prisoners had agreed to accept an offer from the Mountainclimber, only to be over-ruled by Gerry Adams.

Hunger Strike Controversy Has Not Gone Away, You Know (17 April 08)
Many background links

O’Rawe and the Derry Journal (18 April 08)
Crucial question still unanswered

Blanketmen, by Richard O’Rawe
Danny Morrison
Jim Gibney
O’Rawe response to Gibney
Brendan McFarlane
Brendan Hughes
Interview with Richard O’Rawe

Further reading:

Irish News: Allegations of a rejected deal spark fury among republicans (1 March 2005)
Irish News: Was my father’s death PR exercise? (1 March 2005)
Irish News: Monsignor Faul regrets his ‘late intervention’ (1 March 2005)
Irish News: Hunger strikers’ lives not sacrificed — family (2 March 2005)
Daily Ireland: Hunger Strikers Story Brought to Book, Danny Morrison (2 March 2005)
Irish News: Hunger strikers’ deaths must be fully explained, says author (3 March 2005)
The Guardian: Hunger strike claims rile H-block veterans (4 March 2005)
Daily Ireland: McFarlane denies Hunger Strike deal was struck (4 March 2005)
Irish Times: Hunger strikers wanted more than vague promises, Danny Morrison (5 March 2005)
The Village: H-Block Hypocrisy (12 March 2005)
The Village: For the cause or caucus, Hugh Logue (ICJP) reviews O’Rawe’s Blanketmen (19 March 2005)

  • Brian Walker

    Rusty Nail, I’d be interested to know what affect the revived chewing over the hungers strike is having on politics today. Is it just about getting the story straight now that “the war ( against the Brits, that is ) is over ” and genuine soul-searching has begun; or is it partly about subtle attempts to question SF orthodoxy, either on merit, or for the benefit of the so-called dissident republicans? I genuinely ask.

  • deadmanonleave

    I’ll answer from my point of view, and in the spirit which you ask, as honestly as possible.

    The nub of the matter is that there are allegations from, initially, Richard O’Rawe (who was a PIRA prisoner at the time) that an offer was on the table which would have met most of the demands of the hunger strikers, at a time when an end to the hunger strike would have saved the lives of a number of these men. This deal was, it is alleged, rejected by the leadership of the Provisional movement outside the prison in order to further a political agenda outside.

    Further information that has come into the public domain, initially via Liam Clarke of the English Times, and also via Willie Gallagher of the IRSP that all adds weight to the idea that a number of the prisoners were allowed to die because of PSF’s political ambitions outside. The recollections of INLA prisoners at the time seem to back O’Rawe’s version of events too.

    With all that in mind, and the importance of the Hunger Strikes in Nationalist communities, it will be scandalous if it turns out that some of those men were sent to their deaths to aid PSF’s political project. The meeting this weekend should see many more facts come out, and it’s interesting that while the likes of Eammon McCann and Brendan Duddy are happy to speak, nobody from PSF is.

    I hope this helps people from different backgrounds understand just how important this is to those involved.

  • Carian

    “it will be scandalous if it turns out that some of those men were sent to their deaths to aid PSF’s political project.”

    Are you joking – what else do you think they were sent to their deaths for? The obsfucation that still hangs over this issue, centres around the fact that most of those that declare themselves to be truth seekers, do not have the foggiest idea what truth it is that they are seeking. At its most basic, this would seem to constitute a failure to undestand the very foundations upon which the hgunger strikes and the IRA’s miliatry campaign rested.

  • Gabriel

    I am very closely connected to people who were involved in this at the time and a lot of people feel Gerry has a lot to answer for.I personally do not think he cared one ounce about bobby and simply used him for his own purposes.
    Bik is simply trying to settle down now in peace in the south away from all this and but he does still seem mentally scarred from 1981.The guy should be left in peace.
    As in previous posts i said Gerry was going to retire last november but postponed it and alledgedly he plans to now go at the end of this year when by ‘coincidence’,further information about the 1981 hunger strike comes out.

  • granni trixie

    My interest in revisiting the hunger strikes is to deconstruct myths and a version largely of SF making up.Many of us saw at first hand the bullying in Andytown to make shopkeepers close when a hunger striker died or written signs in shops telling people that the Ra were now the police and that you had a chance to come to them with your misdeeds or they would come for you.
    Intimidation was the name of the game. I also object to the portrayal of Bobby Sands as a man of courage – kids need better role models who do not turn to suicide – living,not dying for Ireland takes guts. Aside from Thatchers intransigence, I blame the godfathers outside the jails for the dead – they were not caught up in prison dynamics – they could have found a way forward instead of exploiting the situation.

  • Brian MacAodh

    To be honest, I have read more than enough on the Hunger Strikes. Articles, books, etc. I don’t want or need to delve any deeper. I know how I feel about those men who gave their lives, and I know how I feel about Gerry (to politicians, much more so than Generals these days, foot soldiers are just pawns). Nothing that could come out which would change my opinion about either party.

    Except for those closely connected to some of those affected by the event, I think it’s time to move on.

  • Greenflag

    Move on -Forgive and forget on both sides . Not easy I know but it’s the only way forward .Remember the hunger strike dead respectfully. They are not coming back . Just make sure there’s no more .

  • Rory Carr

    Inch by inch, are we getting closer to the truth of what happened in July, 1981?

    Well no. Not really. But with this relentless campaign by the politically rejected we are becoming tiresomesly aware of how resentment at that rejection has made them uncaring of even their own previous sensibilities.

    From some of those involved in this desperate revisionism it seems quite sad, for those other grubbing political opportunists it would seem to be shameful were that not a concept lost to them long ago.

  • deadmanonleave

    The criticism of the project to discover the truth is not hard to accept from Unionist contributors, but to describe the project as ‘desparate revisionism’ is telling indeed asbout people’s motivations.

    Liam Clarke, Eamonn McCann, Richard O’Rawe, Willie Gallagher and Brendan Duddy are all going to be on a platform discussing what went on, and PSF are nowhere to be seen. If it was a table of RSF, Eirigi, IRSP etc, then maybe I could buy the line that it’s people who are bitter about the peace process, or PSF’s successes. Clearly that’s not the case.

    What on earth do those people share, if not a desire to see the truth? Who is there that fears what will come out?

  • latcheeco

    Rory,
    Isn’t the point that there is still a question mark over whether or not young men were sacrificed by leaders who, if this were proved true, would then themselves be shown to be the worst kind of shameful grubbing political opportunists.

  • Greenflag

    latcheeco,

    ‘Isn’t the point that there is still a question mark over whether or not young men were sacrificed by leaders’

    There is no question mark . That was always the case . In every war . They young are always ‘sacrificed ‘ be it by General Hague in the trenches or Admiral Tojo.

    The best thing young people around the world can do when their leaders urge ‘war’ is to say after you Sir , Colonel/Feldmarschel etc .
    Get them young -get them brainwashed and then you can even get them to believe that water boarding is not torture -that jews are not human -that fenians are expendable and that jaffa heads have no soul. You can even get them to believe in the heavenly magician and the 7 houris they will meet in heaven just as soon as they press the button that blows their bodies to smithereens. Some will even believe in the TUV ffs .

    I’m not an SF supporter but in comparison to all the other ‘liberators/freedom fighters / terrorists / rebels / revolutionaries ‘ who have graced the planet in post imperial times the SF record is far from being the worst . Sri Lanka just finished a 25 year uncivil war with 80,000 dead and thats a small body count compared to whats happened in the Balkans , the Congo , Liberia etc . Some 100 million have been killed over the past 100 years and thats including the Jewish Holocaust . Funny you never hear as much about the 94 million ? Wonder why ?

  • OC

    “Some 100 million have been killed over the past 100 years and thats including the Jewish Holocaust . Funny you never hear as much about the 94 million ? Wonder why ?”

    Tell us, GF. I’m all ears.

  • OC

    Why the finger pointing at PSF? I thought the hunger strikers were PIRA, etc.

  • latcheeco

    Greenflag,
    You are of course correct. Maybe instead of “sacrificed”, “bamboozled’ might have been a better term. The naivete of the young doesn’t excuse or absolve the calculated cynicism of their leaders though.

  • Dave

    I was 15/16 when all this was playing out and I was deeply influenced by it at the time. I was in awe of people choosing to die for their principles. Of course, I wasn’t aware at that time that those ‘principles’ involved rather mundane and selfish demands or, if I was, I glossed over that part, preferring the romantic version of martyrdom for the people. There was also the obvious juxtaposition between the media depiction of these folks as vile murderers and the vision of people making that ultimate sacrifice. Or, at any rate, 11 out of a few thousand of them making that sacrifice and the rest climbing up on their backs for a free ride to glory.

    There is a lingering sense of betrayal among those who may have had some conscience or principles (however flawed the ideology that gave rise to them) and they’re fully entitled to it. After all, and I say this with absolute certainty, Bobby Sands would not have given up his life as part of a ‘struggle’ to assist in the administration of British rule. However expedient his explicit demands were, there was an implicit progression toward the termination of British rule in Ireland and not the consolidation of it. The right he wanted was the right to national self-determination as a member of the Irish nation, not the right to national self-determination as a member of the engineered Northern Irish nation, with the former being formally renounced and the latter formally replacing it.

    That said, they made up their own minds on the basis of the information that was available to them at the time. That information should have ruled out ever trusting their own leadership or trusting the vast bulk of their own ‘comrades.’ I’m not referring to the fact that the Shinners were infiltrated from top to bottom by touts and agents (since they were to know that Gerry and Martin had appointed British agents to run the ISU). They should have looked at Jean McConville, Bloody Friday, La Mon, etc, and accepted that the man who ordered those human rights atrocities (Gerry Adams) could never be trusted to attach any value to human life – including their lives. But perhaps, if they reflected on what a psychopath devoid of conscience is capable of, they may have thought that the lives of their victims outside of the cult had no value but that value was attached to the lives of members of the cult. If so, then that was a fatal error of judgement on their part. As James Taylor sang, “A king who would slaughter the innocents will not cut a deal for you.”

  • Dave

    Typo: (since they [b]weren’t[/b] to know that Gerry and Martin had appointed British agents to run the ISU).

  • Jimmy Sands

    I’m puzzled by this. The prisoners no doubt had no difficulty with idea that innocent lives of others should be sacrificed to advance the project, so on what basis could they bleat about their own being thrown away in the same cause?

  • Harry Flashman

    What on earth is the “English Times”?

  • Dave

    Well, technically, dead men don’t bleat. 😉

    There is no basis that I can think of if they attached the same discounted value to their lives as they attached to the lives of others. Others seem shocked that a psychopath could be organising their campaign or that a psychopath might not possess the conscience that would prevent self-serving calculations from jeopardising their safety. But then they always were a cult.

    As Bertrand Russell said, “Homicidal maniacs would be well employed killing each other.”

  • Barry

    Must be an election coming up ?

    Must be an election coming up ?

    Must be an election coming up ?

    Must be an election coming up ?

  • fin

    Theres a lot of question marks around this ‘new’ evidence.
    Are people really looking at this in context, I think my first question to the panel if I was there is “why was there a second hungerstrike, considering a deal was made with Thatcher to end the first one
    To be blunt let O’Rawe and Co. explain why there was a deal offered and accepted to end the first hungerstrike, which on reflection they didn’t like and a second hungerstrike ensued, as with the 1st a deal was offered which was less than their demands and it was rejected

    O’Rawe a couple of decades on decides he didn’t like this scenario either. The only scenario that is left for Rawe to actually say he would have been happy with is if Thatcher had agreed to their demands, this didn’t happen and if it had SF and the hungerstrikers would have accepted it.

    From my understanding neither SF or the Council was in favour of a Hungerstrike, however, when it happened had to be onboard, they were reacting to events as they happened, was the offer retracted at some stage as the obvious reation when families started taking the hungerstrikers of their fast would have been to grab what was on the table?

    Did conditions improve in the H-Blocks after the hungerstrike?

  • Grassy Noel

    It’s a pity Danny Morrison refused to participate as he was actually a player in these events.

    Still, don’t fret, they got Liam Clarke – and it’s just a pity Gerry Fitt has passed away as he would have made another worthwhile contributor.

    Did anyone put out a call to Margaret Thatcher? I know she’s stopped speaking in public, but if this was held behind closed doors, she might just be keen.

    She’d be in good company.

    As Leonard Cohen once sang:

    That’s right, it’s come to this,
    yes it’s come to this,
    and wasn’t it a long way down,
    wasn’t it a strange way down?

    An offer and a deal. Daragh has it spot on. And Rory Carr.

  • joe soap

    Reluctant to take part in this discussion because for myself nothing should ever take away from the heroic sacrifice of the men and women onthe 80/81 hunger strikes; we should all be concious of the impact til this day of the families and friends of the hunger strikers; and nothing but absolutely nothing should ever try and take away the onus on the British Government for what happened here in Ireland.

    Someone keep me right here and try and satisfy my curiosty in a constructive fashion please.

    Deadmanonleave ( point 2) ‘This deal was, it is alleged, rejected by the leadership of the Provisional movement outside the prison in order to further a political agenda outside’.

    Was it not obvious from the EU elections in June 1979 and the amazing performance by Bernadette Mc Aliskey ( despite the outright opposition / hostility of SF) that if any organisation wanted to use the prison protest ‘in order to further a political agenda outside’ then the local government elections in April 1981 would have been the perfect platform in which to further this political agenda? Despite the fact that it had been known for years that these elctions would take place during April 1981, SF at their previous Ard Fheis decided not to contest them with the result that any other individual or organisation that did stand on an anti H Block Armagh manifesto during these elections did remarkbly well with many getting elected. These local govt elections could have been predicted many months in advance – the death of Frank Maguire ( RIP ) could not have been predicted at all.
    After Bobbys election and death the Britiish Government brought in a law that prevented ‘convicted felons’ standing in elections – if i was able to attend the meeting in derry I would like to know was this also part of the SF agenda?
    When Joe died on the 8th July there was absolutely no indication whatsoever that the British Govt were going to call a by election at all for Bobbys seat. Much speculation in the papers at that time was that the Brit Govt were prepared to leave the position unfilled til the end of that Parliament. The writ for the by election for Bobbys seat was not moved ( by a Tory MP?) until 31st July – was this also part of the SF agenda?

    Unfortunately I can not be at the meeting in derry but I hope that nothing is ever taken away from the role of the Britsh Government in the deaths of Mickey and the other 9 men.

  • As long as we are quoting Cohen

    More to the point:

    Everybody knows that the dice are loaded
    Everybody rolls with their fingers crossed
    Everybody knows that the war is over
    Everybody knows the good guys lost
    Everybody knows the fight was fixed
    The poor stay poor, the rich get rich
    Thats how it goes
    Everybody knows

    Everybody knows that the boat is leaking
    Everybody knows that the captain lied
    Everybody got this broken feeling
    Like their father or their dog just died

    Thats how it goes
    Everybody knows

  • Greenflag

    OC ,

    ‘Tell us, GF. I’m all ears. ‘

    There are many reasons including states no longer in existence , finance , power interests etc etc . Some other thread’s subject . BTW when you are all ears it could be a mistake to close your eyes, wear gloves and block up your nose at the same time ;)? .

  • Greenflag

    latcheeco ,

    ‘The naivete of the young doesn’t excuse or absolve the calculated cynicism of their leaders though. ‘

    I did’nt say it did . As for the ‘calculated cynicism ‘ of their leaders ? When you look at much of what passes for ‘calculated ‘ cynicism is more often in hindsight seen as calculated ‘stupidity’ . Outdated assumptions on military tactics based on the ‘last ‘ war or the one before ? Quite often it’s just ethnic or religious hatred based on ‘principles’ of conformism to the established interests of the powers that be .

    In retrospect the hunger strikers ‘died ‘ because they would not be granted ‘political ‘ status by the then British Government of Margaret Thatcher and their subsequent reaction to that decision by Thatcher’s government . The fact that 25 years later the party of the hunger strikers now share power in the government of Northern Ireland tells us as much about the British Government of the time as it does about the sacrifice which the hunger strikers made .

    Anybody who knew more than a fart about Irish history or cared an iota would have known where the hunger strike impasse would lead .

    There are unfortunately some within the British establishment who would if they could -sit back and watch not 1 or 2 or 20 Irish hunger strikers die in prison but would have applauded if several thousand did likewise or had continued their hunger strike protest for a decade or more.
    I think SF and the nationalists /republicans of NI in 1981 misunderestimated the power of that ‘element’ within the British establishment.

    Thatcher if she were still mentally alert and not suffering from alzheimers/dementia would still maintain that her policy of the time was ‘right ‘ and that the hunger strikers were criminals . Dick Cheney still maintains that water boarding was not torture no matter what Senator McCain says or said .

    That’s the way it is /was . If you don’t /did’nt like it -you vote them out and if it’s impossible to vote them out then you do what people have always done -you go for your gun or take to the streets.

    Such is human nature .

    The hunger strikers were brave men who believed in their cause . I don’t necessarily agree with that cause (a UI ) but I do understand why young people on the ‘irish’ side of the NI divide could feel like that at that time . The fact that politicians later built power bases over their graves ? Well that was’nt the first time that has happened in Ireland -but let’s hope it was the last .

    But it says much for the nature of the NI problem that even I a southerner would rather trust the British Government with the ‘rule ‘ of Northern Ireland than I would the ‘rule’ of a majority ‘Unionist ‘ government . The fact that the hunger strikers did not ‘win ‘ their UI or a ‘free’ whatever that means 32 county Republic is neither here nor there . The fact is that they helped to make it impossible for any British Government to consider any other form of government for NI other than mandatory power sharing . And if you look around on the ‘Unionist ‘ side now at those interests who are still fundamentally opposed to mandatory power sharing – you should see that they are predominantly the ‘traditional unionists’ who have learnt nothing from the past 40 years and who will learn nothing from the next 100 years either . I understand there are sensible ‘unionists’ opposed to mandatory power for the same reasons I am . But then I’m lucky enough to live in a jurisdiction in which the political constitution is strong enough for mandatory power sharing not to be a necessity for political peace.

    The point of my comment above was simply -that it’s time for people to move on. There’s nothing to be gained on the Irish ‘nationalist ‘ ‘republican ‘ side in NI by dragging down the current SF political leadership . It’s been a 20 year ‘struggle’ for them to get to where they are . They are where no previous party representative of Irish nationalists since the NI State was established could ever have hoped to be i.e sharing in the government of ‘their ‘ country.

    Collins had to accept British Dominion and Empire status . It was either that or nothing . His successors did’nt . For those who aspire to a 32 county Republic that struggle can continue but it can’t be achieved in arms against HMG or burning Orange Order community halls .

    The ‘real ‘opponent’ to the ‘republican ‘ objectives is Unionist opposition within the present NI State . That is not going away like it or not -not anytime soon anyway and probably not ever . So Irish politicians in NI have to deal with that fact of political life the best way they can . Right now it’s the GFA . Longer term ? Well I’ve predicted it won’t last but for now it’s all that’s possible . And politics is the art of the possible for NI Republicans and for NI Unionists .

  • fin

    Greenflag, a balanced posting, well put.

  • Greenflag

    Thanks fin .It’s how I see it . Others closer to the ground from all sides will no doubt disagree.

  • OC

    “BTW when you are all ears it could be a mistake to close your eyes, wear gloves and block up your nose at the same time ;)? .”

    A rather cryptic response from “The Commentor Of No Less Than 100 Words”, don’t you think?

  • Barnshee

    “There are unfortunately some within the British establishment who would if they could -sit back and watch not 1 or 2 or 20 Irish hunger strikers die in prison but would have applauded if several thousand did likewise or had continued their hunger strike protest for a decade or more.
    I think SF and the nationalists /republicans of NI in 1981 misunderestimated the power of that ‘element’ within the British establishment”

    Well there were “many” not “some” within the protestant population who would say amen to that

  • Paul

    The only thing that got the english attention was the global attention and backlash this brought to them. And I think they still underestimate how much damage it does to them even to this day

  • Greenflag

    OC ,

    ‘A rather cryptic response ‘

    Sorry to disappoint but not on this thread.

    barnshee ,

    ‘Well there were “many” not “some” within the protestant population who would say amen to that’

    Perhaps but then if you had ‘family ‘ members killed or blown to bits by the IRA would you feel any different ? I probably would’nt . But then I don’t pretend to have principles and my morals have never been absolutely absolute either . It’s not a black and white world out there although there are many who would prefer it that way .

  • fin

    Greenflag, re family members blown to bits by the IRA, but I put money on them having the same attitude propir to that happening and the violence as a convient excuse

  • Greenflag

    paul ,

    ‘The only thing that got the English attention was the global attention and backlash this brought to them.’

    True . The ‘hunger strike ‘ is or can be a political weapon . And like every other weapon it can be used , abused and miss it’s target . SFAIK it has only ever been used effectively in Ireland and India – the latter the former ‘jewel ‘ in the Empire , and the former the mote in the Empire’s eye .

    But though the Empire is long gone the ‘imperial ‘ vision lingers still . among a few . Mr Cameron is just the latest in a long procession of those who have come -seen what they wanted to see and will leave after the requisite pleasantries have been exchanged but like Maudling and others will be only to glad to get back to the ‘real ‘world .

    I see Pete Baker has put up a thread on Potemkin village –

    Potemkin Province I think has a better ring to it . That 6 or 7 billion subvention has to cover more than just a village 😉

  • Greenflag

    Fin ,

    Not sure what your last point was ? But as I said above it’s move on time . The dead – innocent or guilty -freedom fighter or hunger striker -loyalist or republican -unionist or nationalist are not coming back . I think they’ve all made their point that is if they had a point to make .We do not need to hear it again . Annual commemorations fine .

    As for excuses ? The lion will always find an excuse to eat the lamb. So if you’re a lamb you had better learn to defend yourself as best you can.

  • OC

    “Sorry to disappoint but not on this thread.”

    Oh, I see: One rule-book for GF, and another for anyone else.

    You should ask Mick to delete your original statement then, as Attempted Thread Hijacking.

  • Harry Flashman

    “The only thing that got the english attention was the global attention and backlash this brought to them. And I think they still underestimate how much damage it does to them even to this day”

    Balderdash.

    Margaret Thatcher was largely regarded as an unknown quantity in 1981, there was no indication that she would be anything more than a one term failed political footnote in the pages of Britain’s seeming terminal global decline, the Hunger Strikes were the first real test of her political mettle and she passed it (in her terms) with first class honours.

    It might be some form of help in an otherwise unremittingly bleak period to believe that vast amounts of political goodwill were accumulated around the world for the Republican cause and against Britain but that is I’m afraid wishful thinking. Certainly Tehran streetsign makers might have cause to thank Bobby Sands and the great unwashed masses of the unelectable hard left might have looked on with admiration but in the real world where things actually matter Thatcher was seen as a rising international phenomenon that she was later to consolidate with her victory in the Falklands.

    Indeed I remember seeing Alex Haig being interviewed about his attempts to broker a peace deal before the shooting war started for real in the Falklands. He wanted to emphasise to the Argentine government not to be deluded into believing that Britain was nothing more than a busted flush and that Thatcher was bluffing with her task force. Haig said he told the Junta in no uncertain terms that Thatcher would fight and as an example of this he told them that the woman had coldly allowed ten of her own citizens to starve to death rather than concede a mere principal to them and that the world must recognise what a tough woman she was, the Junta didn’t listen, to their cost.

    I remember reading that Bobby Sand’s death was on the front page of the New York Times for a week, Raymond McCreesh’s death merited a couple of paragraphs at the bottom of page 11 a few weeks later. It is Thatcher who came out of the Hunger Strike indisputably the winner with her reputation massively enhanced and the Hunger Strikers are now barely remembered except among ageing Irish Republicans in the wee six counties of Ireland.

  • Greenflag

    OC ,

    ‘Oh, I see: One rule-book for GF, and another for anyone else.’

    No idea what you mean by this . I don’t make the rules and I’m sure if I’m out of order I’ll be told .

    ‘It is Thatcher who came out of the Hunger Strike indisputably the winner with her reputation massively enhanced and the Hunger Strikers are now barely remembered except among ageing Irish Republicans in the wee six counties of Ireland.’

    Nonsense the hunger striker’s party may top the poll in NI in this election . SF were very much the junior party on the Irish nationalist side prior to the hunger strikes .

    Without the hunger strikes or more specifically without Thatcher’s ignorant response to them -the UUP might be sharing power with the SDLP and not the DUP with SF .

    When your ears are not hearing what your eyes are showing you Harry, then it’s time to see your GP if not a specialist .

    They (hunger strikers) changed the course of political direction in NI whether you like to believe it or not .

    This is not to justify or excuse their actions or even to state it was worth the lives lost – but they did matter and will continue to matter.

  • Harry

    If you mean Thatchers reputation was enhanced with the general public in England due to her stance on the hunger strikes, then I think you are mistaken.

    Whilst the English people had no time for the PIRA, why would they when the Provos were deliberately targeting them. Nevertheless the link between the Irish and English is very complex, not least because so many English people have a drop of Irish blood in them and vice versa.

    You have to remember for the average English man/woman the hunger strike were of little interest to them. (this goes too for those on the political Left, right and centre) Those who understood what was going on had some sympathy for the hunger strikers plight, but most thought it was a hopeless cause no matter which government was in power in Whitehall. We know the LP, if in power would have dealt with the Hunger Strikes in much the same way as Thatcher did, as Concannon went over to Ireland and told Bobby Sands this.

    Thatchers reputation was built on the Falklands war and it was this that enabled her to defeat the trade unions and privatize the crown jewels and set in motion the type of me, me, society we have ended up with.

    As far as Ireland was concerned in almost every opinion poll taken during Thatchers period in office, a majority were in favor of the political reunification of the island of Ireland and British withdrawal. Although it has to be said this was not because of the Provos insurgency but because it was the right thing to do. (if you get my drift) If anything the Provo attacks on England made withdrawal an impossibility for any British government.

    Looking back, it seems pretty clear the Provo leadership had a shockingly lack of knowledge about what made the English working classes and the progressive section of the middle classes tick.(to rewire a quote of Danny Morrison’s) Or they just did not give a dam.

  • Reader

    Gerrnflag: SF were very much the junior party on the Irish nationalist side prior to the hunger strikes .
    And they stayed the junior party until the ceasefire. Their recent behaviour shows that was the lesson they really remember.

  • Paul Kielty

    [Text removed – Paul, are you an idiot? If you can only play the man, then you have no argument. And no call to commenting on the story – Mods]
    Disgraceful!!
    [Indeed – Mods]

  • Harry Flashman

    “If you mean Thatchers reputation was enhanced with the general public in England”

    No Mick, I was responding to the silly post that seemed to indicate that internationally the Hunger Strikers are still remembered and that Britain’s reputation to this day is besmirched around the world because of them. I was pointing out that this is ridiculous wishful thinking and that 98% of the world’s population wouldn’t have a clue who the Hunger Strikers were.

    I have to say Mick you also display fantasy tendencies if you believe for one moment there was the least shred of sympathy in Britain for the Hunger Strikers, the British people may have an ambivalent attitude towards Mrs Thatcher but letting IRA men kill themselves if they wanted to is not something that the average English person feels is in any way as a blot in her copybook.

  • Dave

    The simple proof of that absence of sympathy is the absence of any shift from what was on offer at the Sunningdale Agreement which predates the Hunger Strike. Sympathy means constitutional progress, and there wasn’t any of that.

    What the Shinners mean by political progress is party political progress. They could have had that anytime they stopped their sectarian murder campaign.

  • “You have to remember for the average English man/woman the hunger strike were of little interest to them. (this goes too for those on the political Left, right and centre) Those who understood what was going on had some sympathy for the hunger strikers plight, but most thought it was a hopeless cause no matter which government was in power in Whitehall.”

    Harry,

    Just as I misunderstood your post you now seem determined to pay me back in kind 😉 As I wrote in the paragraph above the majority were not interested in the hunger strikes.

    The English despite what some Irish people might think, are well able to tip their hat to a man who does his duty as he see’s it. I remember a former para I spoke to on a railway station, who had served a tour in Ireland telling me in 81 he admired Sands steadfastness. That does not mean he thought Thatcher should concede the five demands and nor did the majority of his countrymen.

    Nevertheless, the outcome of the opinion polls I mentioned are there all the same and in truth I am surprised SF does not make more of the fact that given the right situation, the majority of people in England have time and again supported withdrawal.

    If you look back in history when the British left the 26 counties it was welcomed within England Scotland and Wales, there was no political backlash against this withdrawal, indeed most thought Lloyd-George should have gone the whole hog. If only ah?

    Without meaning to be arrogant, I suppose the question for republicans is this, can they drive the British back across the sea by force of arms, if not, those who continue the armed struggle have some questions to answers, not least exactly what is their strategy to achieve the 32.

    The right to resist occupation is an important and defendable position, but it does not mean one has to implement it gun in hand, the more so if there is no realistic likelihood that it will achieve ones political aims.

  • dan breen’s revolver

    Up the rebels

  • Greenflag

    Mickhall,

    ‘it was welcomed within England Scotland and Wales, there was no political backlash against this withdrawal, indeed most thought Lloyd-George should have gone the whole hog.’

    Why would’nt it have been ? The House of Commons had already passed the Home Rule Act . The Conservative/Unionist dominated Lords voted it down of course . Not for the first or last time such interests at Westminster ‘decided’ Ireland’s political fate. And it’s the same today though circumstances are radically different.

    ‘ I suppose the question for republicans is this, can they drive the British back across the sea by force of arms, if not, those who continue the armed struggle have some questions to answers, not least exactly what is their strategy to achieve the 32.’

    Having a strategy to achieve an objective does not necessarily mean that the stated objective will or can be reached . Of course not having any strategy or using one that has repeatedly failed, is indicative of a failure to communicate and is a sure path to political marginalisation on the extremes .The above assumes of course the objective is actually worth achieving and is, even in a remote horizon sense potentially achievable ?

    I know little about the strategising powers of the 1916 revolutionaries but their ‘timing’ even if bungled on the day itself was nevertheless in hindsight ‘brilliant ‘.

    Of course it had no immediate chance of success and it could all have gone badly and the men of 1916 might now be seen as a bunch of poetic dreamers and failed revolutionaries instead of as the ‘brave ‘ founders of our State . This was achieved not only by the men themselves but by the fortunate ‘reaction’ to events in the midst of a World War . Captain Blackadder (I kid you not )the man in charge of the firing squad said he had never seen braver men face execution but it was General Maxwells summary trials and quick executions which turned the tables of history in favour of the rebels .

    Had Maxwell tarried a few months ? But of course he could’nt . Not in the midst of world war.

    2009 is not 1916 nor is it 1969 or 1981 . But NI ‘unionist ‘ opposition to a UI remains as strong now as it was in 1920 or 1949 or 2007 even if the numerical balance of power has shifted dramatically towards the nationalist side within NI .

    The present ‘economic ‘ crisis will of course drive any few ‘doubting ‘ unionists further into the arms of the Union and may even dampen the enthusiasm of a large number of nationalists for a UI. It is within those circumstances that those Republicans particularly within NI have to operate .

    I can’t see any combination of circumstances in which another ‘armed’ campaign could achieve their stated objective at this time .

  • Belfast Gonzo

    According to Liam Clarke (on Facebook):

    It (last night’s event) was pretty interesting. Ricky O’Rawe account was confirmed by another prisoner who overheard his conversation with Bik McFarland and Brendan Duddy, the link between the IRA and the British revealed a lot more.

    Anyone else there?

  • Harry Flashman

    Actually GF the idea that it was the executions of the 1916 leaders that caused the rise of Sinn Fein is a bit of a myth. FSL Lyons many years ago analysed by-election results following the Rising and found no discernible advantage for Sinn Fein in the aftermath of the Rising; the old Nationalist party continued to win elections. It was not until mid-1917 when it was mooted that the British government would introduce conscription in Ireland that suddenly Sinn Fein’s popularity rose astronomically.

    It is, like I say, a nice convenient myth that the Irish people were outraged by the executions of men they judged as deeply sincere if misguided martyrs that caused them to vote SF, it’s certainly a lot more romantic than the real reason that Catholic farmers and the middle classes were horrified that their sons might be sent off to fight in a war that so far had been a nice little money earner for them whilst the stupid protestants and the urban knackers of Dublin, Cork and Limerick went off to fight for King and Empire.

    Anyway once they saw how things would be under an IRA ruled Ireland the Catholic farmers and middle classes soon returned to their senses, kicked the shite out of the IRA in 1922/23 and never let them within an asses’ roar of ever getting into power again in Ireland.

    Ireland is fundamentally a conservative nation, they actually don’t like revolutionaries one wee bit.

  • Harry,

    SF didn’t stand in all (or possibly any, I can’t remember) of those by-elections won by the home rulers, so those results are not necssarily reflective of any absence of a swing to SF.

    Having said that, I would agree with the thrust of your post.