1981 Hunger Strike: A Case to Answer

WAS THERE A DEAL? ask the Irish News in its two part special on the Hunger Strike. Today’s issue is damning, featuring commentary by Deputy First Minister and, according to the Ed Moloney’s Secret History, Chief of Staff of the IRA at the time of the hunger strikes Martin McGuinness, who admits to his role as the Derry messenger between Mountain Climber Brendan Duddy and the Belfast cadre of Adams, Morrison, Gibney and Hartley. Former Hunger Striker Laurence McKeown also weighs in, shedding little light on the details but muddying the waters on the rhetoric. More significant are the contributions from former Taoiseach Garret Fitzgerald, who believes the IRA vetoed the deal with the British despite the prisoners’ willingness to accept – which he reveals the Irish government was aware of at the time because of a mole they had inside the prison. Hugh Logue of the ICJP, who were at the time of Joe McDonnell’s death negotiating a parallel offer similar to the one between Thatcher and the Adams committee, also weighs in, asking why the outside leadership held out at the expense of the lives of the hunger strikers. Richard O’Rawe, whose book Blanketmen opened up this appalling vista, gives an overview of how the debate has progressed and supports the call for an independent inquiry into events, describing the seeking of truth as a “sacred duty”. The contributions that focus on the families of the hunger strikers are very emotional, as the anguish of their loss is palpable. The Dohertys are hurt by the allegations of the needless death of their son, and want the issue laid to rest, while the O’Haras and Devines, also upset by the issue, want to get to the bottom of things and know the truth of what happened. The late Brendan Hughes, who led the first hunger strike in 1980, touched on this when speaking to Spanish academic Rogelio Alonso: “I’ve spoken about this to people and I’ve always been advised by people like Jim Gibney, Danny Morrison and others that it would be too hurtful for the families of the dead hunger strikers to tell the truth. But that was the other attempt to bury the truth.”

As Sarah Brett concluded on Radio Foyle this morning, after interviewing Irish News Editor Noel Doran, “This isn’t going to go away.”This special investigation by the Irish News contains a huge volume of material, which Slugger will be sifting through more in depth in the coming days.

Comprehensive archive site on the events of the Hunger Strike: July 1981

Cartoon kindly provided by John Kennedy

Earlier on Slugger:

Gerry Adams and Kieran Doherty, 29 July 1981

Prolonging the Hunger Strike: The Derailing of the ICJP

Updated Timeline and Upcoming Discussion Brian Rowan and Brendan Duddy to speak at Feile

Gulladuff: More Heat Than Light Gerry Adams meets with some of the families of some of the hunger strikers.

Gerry Adams to meet Hunger Strikers Families; Inquiry Sought Families of the hunger strikers call for a public inquiry; Adams arranges meeting

“This is a huge opportunity and I feel there’s a potential here to end this” Bik McFarlane miraculously recovers his memory and completely backtracks on every denial he had made previously, while also making up new, contradictory details never before mentioned

“I will not be attending and will not send a representative” Gerry Adams refuses to attend public meeting about the hunger strikes; extremely revealing discussion in the comments section

1981 Hunger Strike Truth Commission Includes text of British document of July offer and transcript of Willie Gallagher’s speech at the Derry meeting

The Truth is a Heartbreaking Thing Initial summary of Derry meeting

Upcoming Debate: “What is the Truth Behind the Hunger Strike?” Announcement of public meeting and note of Radio Foyle debate between Raymond McCartney and Richard O’Rawe (also discussed on The Pensive Quill: A Shifting Narrative)

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