1981 Hunger Strike: Feint and Retreat

This afternoon we’ll be looking at Laurence McKeown’s Irish News piece, in a ‘fisky’ sort of way. Other articles are in the works to be looked at. It may be that some of the material will be revisited at a later date. To begin with today’s piece, former hunger striker Laurence McKeown wrote: “When O’Rawe first made the claim that the British had been prepared to reach a deal during the 1981 Hunger Strike but that it was rejected by the leadership of the republican movement, I believed the claim to be totally unfounded. I still believe that. In the intervening period it has been disproved by documentation from the period and by a broad spectrum of individuals involved at the time.”

What documentation is he referring to? Where has the claim been disproved by the documentation he is referring to?

Who makes up the broad spectrum of individuals?

Slugger has followed this issue very closely and is left baffled at this. The documentation in the public domain supports O’Rawe’s claim – it doesn’t in any manner disprove it. The ‘broad spectrum’ consensus – at least as broad as it can be made up of former prisoners (hunger strikers and blanketmen), their family members, members of the ICJP, the Mountain Climber link who delivered the offer and refusal (and verified the FOI documentation), and even the Taoiseach of the time, who, in the same issue as McKeown’s article, says, “O’Rawe’s account seems to me to be, within his framework of knowledge, honest and accurate.” – is not that the claim has been disproven, but that it is very much a valid claim that needs explained by those responsible.

And that’s just taking apart the first paragraphs of McKeown’s piece – he’s off to a bad start. Unless he will show us this documentation he refers to, and quote the broad spectrum of individuals to support his case?

We should be so lucky. Instead of expanding on his evidence of O’Rawe’s claims being disproven, he veers off into shooting the messenger. It’s all a political conspiracy, he says, dragging out the usual bogeymen out to get poor Sinn Fein. Why, those disaffected bogeymen are just like alcoholics – you can’t tell them anything – “So why bother?” he posits.

Like O’Rawe, who in his article explains that seeking the truth is “a sacred duty”, McKeown too feels dutybound, to the families of the hunger strikers and “the thousands of ordinary people who did so much for us”.

He paints another hypothetical – that the Brits, if we accept that they were offering concessions, then walked away with their tail between their legs instead of going to the Irish, the Church and the SDLP to make public their offer and force the hunger strikers down that way. First off, they didn’t walk away with their tail between their legs at the refusal of Adams over the early July offer. They came back to Adams in the last half of July attempting once again to come to agreement, and again, the Adams committee refused them. The Red Cross was also sent in to attempt to mediate; they were rebuffed and quickly sent packing. The Adams committee had Thatcher over a barrel in one regard – she could not be seen to be negotiating with the IRA. Were she to make public that she was actively attempting to end the hunger strike by directly negotiating with Gerry Adams, her government would have been in severe difficulties. It would have also impacted relations with the Irish government. So those defending the traditional Adams narrative of the hunger strike can use the question of “Why didn’t she go public” as a shield to hide behind as they know very well that was never on the cards. Had they gone to the media, as McKeown suggests, Thatcher would have been savaged. Was she willing to sacrifice herself and her government in order to end the hunger strike? McKeown can’t have it both ways. She wanted an end to the hunger strike, and did take risks to bring it about, but she wasn’t about to commit public political suicide in order to do so – and no one was under any illusions that she was. So there is a safety in suggesting she would as a defence tactic now.

Even to this day the NIO will not release all documents relating to the hunger strike because of the damage it could do to people still active in politics today. When the British are done with the Sinn Fein leadership and have no further need to protect them, then those secrets will be made public. Adams’ proxies can ask why they aren’t made public today safe in the knowledge that as long as he is useful to them, they will never be released.

McKeown argues that the idea that Thatcher was negotiating with the IRA would have set off the prison authorities too much, and that is his reason for why the O’Rawe claims aren’t true. He cites a discussion with an un-named BBC producer as evidence for this. This discussion has been previously cited by McKeown in R.K. Walker’s 2006 book on the hunger strike, although the context used then is in reference to the first hunger strike, not the second. On page 79, McKeown describes the ending of the first hunger strike:

Released from Long Kesh in 1992, he sheds further light on the feeling among Republicans that during the first hunger strike of 1980 the British authorities had no intention of making a genuine attempt to reach a compromise. He recalls:

“It was said by the British [to Cardinal Ó Fiach and others] that once the strike was ended, there would be concessions on at least the wearing of our own clothes, as opposed to prison uniform. Ó Fiach had appealed to the hunger strikers and to the British government to call off the strike. He thought he had an understanding that our own clothes would be acceptable. And this was the understanding of Republicans at the time. So our relatives brought our own clothes up to the prison to leave in for us to wear, thinking that that was what had been agreed. But instead we were told that we couldn’t wear them, and that we would have to wear “prison-issue civilian clothing”, which was not what had been agreed at all.
Many years later, during the making of a documentary on Ireland by the BBC, the BBC producer said off-screen that he’d been told by someone who’d been in official circles at the time that six NIO officials including the prison governor had threatened to resign if the prisoners had been given any concessions at all.” pg 79, The Hunger Strikes, R. K. Walker

Leaving aside the nonsense of the first paragraph, compare this with Monday’s article, where McKeown uses the same example in a different context:

“A BBC Timewatch programme produced in 1994, a full 11 years before Richard O’Rawe’s claim, possibly holds the answer.
I did an interview for the programme and the producers got access to many senior British government officials from the time.
In casual conversation with the producer I asked if the civil servants, particularly in the Northern Ireland Office (NIO), had felt a bit like ‘piggy-in-the-middle’, forced to hold to Thatcher’s uncompromising line while having to deal with adverse publicity from around the world.
The producer replied that everything they had discovered indicated that Thatcher at one point was going to make concessions but that when the Northern Ireland Office (NIO) got wind of it top civil servants, including the governor of the prison, Stanley Hilditch, threatened to resign.
As soon as he said it I realised it made absolute sense. Of course the civil servants in the NIO (unionists) would be more opposed to any concessions to republican prisoners than the British would.”

“So, the producer of the programme added, threatened with rebellion on their doorstep it appears the British government decided it best to weather the storm (of the Hunger Strike) rather than follow through with their ‘offer’.”

10 Downing Street, in the FOI documents, discussing the second July offer, answers both of these hypotheticals:

“The Prime Minister asked whether a detailed offer along the lines set out above were made and failed, he could hold the prison officers. Mr Atkins thought that this would be just about possible. The Prime Minister pointed out that once the offer of own clothes had been made publicly, it would have to be implemented whether or not the hunger strikers called off their strike. Mr Atkins agreed. After further discussion, the Prime Minister decided that the dangers in taking an initiative would be so great in Northern Ireland that she was not prepared to risk them. The official who went into the prison could repeat the Government’s public position but could go no further. The Secretary of State agreed.”

What is being discussed is how far to go without Adams indicating that the offer would be accepted. Thatcher asks would the prison officers comply with the offer’s terms; Atkins assures her they would. She reminds him of the clothes issue, making the point because of the previous problem. In the end she decides that going public with the full offer without the acceptance from Adams was too risky; she can go no further without it.

It was choreography she was seeking, and Adams was, at that date, unwilling to give it to her.

McKeown says the hunger strikers weren’t going to agree: “And given that four comrades had already died and the hunger strike of 1980 had ended with not the merest crumb of concession there was no way we were ending ours without a concrete, copper-fastened deal witnessed by guarantors who could stand over it.”

Yet, as we know, the first hunger strike ended with no chance of concessions; the potential guarantors of the second hunger – the ICJP and the Red Cross – were chased, on order from McFarlane. The hunger strikers themselves weren’t given a chance to agree to Thatcher’s proposals – they were told nothing of them. Those who were – O’Rawe and McFarlane – were over-ruled when they accepted them.

What is most interesting about McKeown’s effort here isn’t his use of hypothetical bollocks to bamboozle, but what he left out, the position he abandoned. One would imagine that he would have been in the perfect position to kick the ball into touch and yet he refuses point blank to go near it this time around.

When O’Rawe’s book was released, McKeown had written, in an attempt to rubbish the claims: “Strangely, there was nothing new to me regarding what was on offer from the Brits back in 1981. Whether it was the ‘Mountain Climber’ or the Irish Commission for Justice and Peace, we wanted definite confirmation, not vague promises of ‘regime change’.” – 10 March, 2005, An Phoblacht

This comment is also referred to in an article for the Village magazine: “Laurence McKeown, whose family took him off the hunger strike, has denounced O’Rawe and accused him of glory-seeking. No concrete promises were on offer from the British, he insists.” H-Block hypocrisy, Village, Saturday, 12 March 2005

Today, 2009, we now know that much more than “vague promises” were on offer; we have the “concrete promises” confirmed and verified by the man who delivered them to Martin McGuinness.

McKeown’s retreat, along with Morrison’s and McFarlane’s absence and Adams’ continued silence, is noted.

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

Earlier on Slugger:

1981 Hunger Strike: Continued Coverage

1981 Hunger Strike: Deconstructing McGuinness

1981 Hunger Strike: A Case to Answer

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

  • Rory Carr

    Being disingenuous once again I see, Rusty.

    Laurence McKeown’s reference to the Brit’s failure to “go public” refers to the offer that the Brits would be willing to make to the hunger strikers. There was absolutely no need for any disclosure of the fact that Thatcher’s emissary was having direct contact with the IRA.

    The need of the hunger strikers for the terms to be made public prior to any announcement that the strike would be ended was paramount and based on their perfectly well-founded distrust of the Brits. Indeed a careful scrutiny of the documents lends credence to the belief that once having had the strike called off, without a prior public declaration of acceptable terms, the Brits would have fallen back on a much reduced set of conditions and all of them subject to prisoner behaviour judged by the whim of the governor.

    Without a public declaration of acceptable terms by the Brits prior to any announcement being made that the hunger strike was over the danger of being sold out once again by British nefariousness was too great and it would have been totally irresponsible of any outside body with the prisoners’ best interests at heart to advise them to capitulate without that guarantee.

    Again and again you squirm and body swerve around this central issue, this time deliberately misconstruing the intentions of Laurence McKeown’s words to fit your own skewed narrative. Shame on you!

  • joeCanuck

    the Mountain Climber link who delivered the offer and refusal..

    A truly honourable man who, according to Jim Gibney of the Irish News reporting on a conference in July of this year said “At Saturday’s event he appealed for an end to the ongoing “damaging debate” about the hunger strikes.”

  • Reader

    joeCanuck: A truly honourable man who
    … could be the starting point for hopelessly misconceived ‘Argument from Authority’

  • joeCanuck

    No Reader. I was not trying to argue from authority. Mr. Duddy didn’t come out on either side as I infer from Gibney’s report but called the debate damaging. I don’t have any fixed opinion either. I left, N.I. ,not unconnectedly, when the Hunger Strikers started dying.
    A lot is dependent on people’s memories from almost 30 years ago. Yet the latest research on memory, published only a few months ago, shows that memory isn’t fixed in our neurons. Everytime we recall a memory, it gets restored and altered from the original. It appears that the recalling gets conflated with new “facts” about the event mentioned by others for example or even by what is going on around us. That is why someone can “misremember” a song that seems fixed in our memory. The “new” song may have been playing in the background during a previous recalling.
    The argument/debate cannot be resolved since there is no paper trail.

  • what’s the point

    joeCanuk said,

    “Mr Duddy didn’t come out out either side….”

    Danny Morrison stated that the offer contained no concrete proposals whereas Brendan McFarlane claimed there were no offers whatsoever. Bic changed his position after Duddy claimed that the offer he communicated to Martin McQuinness contained four of the five demands. I believe the Gasyard videos is still online so listen to him yourself as it sounds as if he didn’t take Morrison or McFarlane’s side in regards to no concrete proposals or no offers whatsover.

    Duddy repeated this during his interview with Brian Rowan, something which Jim Gibney failed to mention in that report you refered to. Wonder why?

  • Reader

    joeCanuck: The argument/debate cannot be resolved since there is no paper trail.
    So are the only worthwhile bits of the Bloody Sunday Inquiry going to be the bits with the paper trail?

  • what’s the point

    Rory Carr,

    did you not find it strange that Laurence retreated from his previous position of Danny informing all the hunger strikers, including himself, of all the details of the mountain climber offer on the 5th July. He is on public record as as saying these amounted to vague promises on prison regime change. Of course he claimed this before the FOI documents were released and before Duddy authenticated them at the Gasyard when he claimed four or the demands were conceded. Not that I doubt Laurence was telling the truth but I suspect Danny was indeed vague on giving the detail of the mountain climber offer to the strikers as he was too busy making sure the ICJP was booted offside.

  • Dec

    I’ll say this for Larry McKeown, he doesn’t skulk around like a sewer rat making accusations under a pseudonym.

  • what’s the point

    Rory Carr said:

    ”The need of the hunger strikers for the terms to be made public prior to any announcement that the strike would be ended was paramount and based on their perfectly well-founded distrust of the Brits.”

    1. Thatcher was not seeking a public announcement from the hunger strikers that the strike was over before she would release the statement to the prisoners and the press.

    She was seeking word from Adams that the prisoners would accept her offer; upon that, she would give the agreed statement to the prisoners and the press. From there, the hunger strikers would be free to announce the end of the hunger strike.

    What Thatcher was seeking was the choreography. She wasn’t going to send anyone into the prison with a statement that wasn’t agreed upon. The distrust worked both ways, apparently.

    She makes offer to Adams, as represenative of the prisoners; he either:
    * tells her the prisoners would accept the deal upon which she releases the terms of it to the prisoners and the press
    or
    * tells her the prisoners will not accept the deal upon which she continues to negotiate (as she did throughout July) until she comes to a point where she says, Final offer, take it or leave it, and Adams left it.

    ”Indeed a careful scrutiny of the documents lends credence to the belief that once having had the strike called off, without a prior public declaration of acceptable terms, the Brits would have fallen back on a much reduced set of conditions and all of them subject to prisoner behaviour judged by the whim of the governor.”

    Could you cite where in the documents this is shown.

    For it does not appear you have scrutinised the documents carefully at all, let alone the facts of what actually happened when the hunger strike finally ended, which was the implementation of all that was on offer in July, including the removal of people who might have made such implementation difficult.

    ”Without a public declaration of acceptable terms by the Brits prior to any announcement being made that the hunger strike was over the danger of being sold out once again by British nefariousness was too great and it would have been totally irresponsible of any outside body with the prisoners’ best interests at heart to advise them to capitulate without that guarantee.”

    That word, capitulate. What a horrible word to use, to wield. Especially when speaking to a hunger striker who has watched his comrades die before him. “Well, you can capitulate……or you can hold the line…”

    Accepting the offer from Thatcher, which met 4 of the 5 demands, would not have been a capitulation. Thatcher was broken! She was meeting the demands! It would have been a victory, not a capitulation to accept those terms at that time. Political status was won the minute Bobby Sands was elected. Capitulate! What a low-down, dirty, stinking, manipulative word. At what a terrible cost its use.

    That’s what was irresponsible – the use of such a word to young men who were watching their comrades die, who were dying with their comrades, in such an emotive way: capitulate or die. A phrase Adams used to the hunger strikers at the end of July ’81. Thatcher’s offer wasn’t a capitulation, and nor were the terms. To continue to use the term today in the same sense of emotional manipulation is disgusting

  • igor

    There is a real sense of desperation around this in SF. They know that the truth will out and the fall out will be terrible. These young men were manipulated used and left to die just for a few votes. The people were also lied to and misled for 20 years . Their votes were bought with lie after lie.

    What is interesting too is that the Brits are now desperate to keep this udner wraps to protect ‘people still active in politics today’.

    Now we might ask will a conservative government be more keen to enhance the political reputation of the Iron Lady in history or to look after the interests of our lcoal grafters?

    Isnt it also deeply ironic to see all these calls for a Truth Commission to ‘bring closure’ when that’s the last thing many key players really want in this case.

    And also, where’s the CAJ. the NIHRC and all the rest of the quangos and commissions when you really need them? Dont they do abuse of the rights of the Hunger Strikers and the relatives left behind? Arent they calling for a public inquiry (is it number 7 or number 8, I have lost count)? Thought not

    At the very least shouldn’t the inquests be reopened and fresh evidence called to determine the truth? Whoops, too difficult

  • Dixie Elliott

    Rory Carr, I put this question to you recently in the other thread…

    On July 5th in a comm to Adams Bik said that the ICJP told the Hunger Strikers that they would act as guarantors over any settlement…

    On July 6th Adams called Logue and Crilly of the ICJP to a meeting and asked them to step aside as the prisoners had a better offer than they had…

    The Brits said, “If the PIRA accepted the draft statement and ordered the hunger strikers to end their protest the statement would be issued immediately…”

    Now here was the chance to put the Brits to the test and save lives. Adams could have told the ICJP what the Brits were proposing and asked them to act as guarantors. Then he could have told the Brits that if when the Hunger Strike ended that they [the Brits] hadn’t released the statement immediately as promised then the Hunger Strikes would resume within 24 hours, as dozens of men were waiting in line to join the Hunger Strikes.

    If the Brits back tracked and reneged on their promise then the ICJP would have no choice to inform the world about the Brits nefarious tactics in bringing the Hunger Strike to an end and the Hunger Strike could have resumed with fresh men who had the moral high ground to themselves.

    Therefore why ask impartial witnesses to a possible deal to step aside at such a crucial time?

  • Dixie Elliott

    On another point…

    We now have Bik saying that he in fact said to Richard;

    “Something was going down, this is amazing, this is a huge opportunity and I feel there’s a potential here to end this.”

    Now the question is we know Bik sent Adams daily comms and many are mentioned in Ten Men Dead, so without doubt he would’ve sent Adams a comm on what he thought was a ‘huge opportunity to end this’ yet this comm seems to have vanished and was never shown to the author of the book, David Beresford.

    Why would this be, if not more than anything else to hide Adams reply? Which was of course a rejection of the ‘huge opportunity’ why else cover up what Bik now admits as being fact?

  • what’s the point

    The Brits said, “If the PIRA accepted the draft statement and ordered the hunger strikers to end their protest the statement would be issued immediately…”

    Is that this statement?:

    Statement by the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland

    1. In the light of discussions which Mr Michael Alison has had recently with the Irish Commission for Justice and Peace, during which a statement was issued on 4 July on behalf of the protesting prisoners in the Maze Prison, HMG have come to the following conclusions.

    2. When the hunger strike and the protest is brought to an end (and not before), the Government will:

    I. extend to all male prisoners in Northern Ireland the clothing regime at present available to female prisoners in Armagh Prison (i.e. subject to the prison governor’s approval);

    II. make available to all prisoners in Northern Ireland the allowance of letters, parcels and visits at present available to conforming prisoners;

    III. allow the restoration of forfeited remission at the discretion of the responsible disciplinary authority, as indicated in my statement of 30 June, which hitherto has meant the restoration of up to one-fifth of remission lost subject to a satisfactory period of good behaviour;

    IV. ensure that a substantial part of the work will consist of domestic tasks inside and outside the wings necessary for servicing of the prison (such as cleaning and in the laundries and kitchens), constructive work, e.g. on building projects or making toys for charitable bodies, and study for Open University or other courses. The prison authorities will be responsible for supervision. The aim of the authorities will be that prisoners should do the kinds of work for which they are suited, but this will not always be possible and the authorities will retain responsibility for decisions about allocation.

    3. Little advance is possible on association. It will be permitted within each wing, under supervision of the prison staff.

    4. Protesting prisoners have been segregated from the rest. Other prisoners are not segregated by religious or any other affiliation. If there were no protest the only reason for segregating some prisoners from others would be the judgment of the prison authorities, not the prisoners, that this was the best way to avoid trouble between groups.

    5. This statement is not a negotiating position. But it is further evidence of the Government’s desire to maintain and where possible to improve a humanitarian regime in the prisons. The Government earnestly hopes that the hunger strikers and the other protesters will cease their protest.

  • Rory Carr

    Dixie Elliot conjures up a ‘comm’ of which there is no evidence of its very existence other than his own wish that it does by insisting that “without doubt he [Bik McFarlane] would’ve sent Adams a comm” and then complains that this imaginary ‘comm’ has vanished and that Gerry Adams is hiding his reply to it. He also claims clairvoyant knowledge of both the details of this imaginary ‘comm’ and the details of Adams’s imagined reply.

    Like so much of this whole nasty little campaign it is yet another argument lacking any evidence other than the prejudice of its author who clearly has never heard of Occam’s Razor (though he seems familiar with the works of Dan Brown)and made the obvious assumption that if a ‘comm’ was not seen or replied to it might be entirely reasonable to assume first that it never in fact existed.

    Of course if one wants to play a dirty little black propaganda game then what one does is posit the existence of such an item, including one’s clairvoyant knowledge of its content (which naturally will suit one’s own argument), and then claim that it’s failure to materialise is due to a cover-up conspiracy.

    As to the hysterical over-emotionalism of the one who goes by the pseudonym, What’s the point (what indeed?), attempting to ring treachery and denigration out of the completely innocent use of a word I only have this to: “Do go away, please and grow up!”

  • what’s the point

    What’s your point in your last post Rory Carr-doesn’t make any sense whereas dixie’s makes complete sense regarding the comm(s). Your rebutal, dare I say, borders on the hysterical.

  • J Kelly

    by the way did we ever find out who rusty is or has anyone seen the document with the deal on it…”withour doubt they would’ve sent the terms of the deal…”

  • Dixie Elliott

    Rory Carr obviously you can’t answer the questions I posed and instead have went off on one over what Bik had to say that he so vehemently denied saying in the past until the Mountain Climber took the stage in Derry.

    Plain and simple, are you saying that if he thought there was a ‘huge opportunity to end this’ that he wouldn’t have wrote out to Brownie [Adams]and told him so and wouldn’t Adams have replied with his views on it?

    Now I acknowledge that comms coming into the jail would’ve been destroyed for obvious reasons but we know from Ten Men Dead that those going out were saved and all that I’m asking is, what happened to that comm from Bik? It would be beyond comprehension to believe he didn’t sent one out especially if he thought something could bring it to and end.

    However if such a comm were ‘discovered’ then the question would be, what was Adams’ reply…Did he agree with Bik and if so what then happened? Or did he disagree and why?

  • Seemples

    Given O’Rawe was telling the truth about the conversation he had with McFarlane, as confirmed by others on the wing and by McFarlane’s own admission, it is reasonable to accept he is telling the truth about the comm that came in from Adams the following day, in response to McFarlane’s comm accepting the Mountain Climber offer. He wrote that Adams sent in word that the offer was rejected, that “more was needed”. This was confirmed by Brendan Duddy who delivered the very same rejection to the British: “More was needed”. & we all know how that turned out.

    Which is more reasonable, the idea that no such comms existed, or that the comms existed and were “disappeared”?

    The known facts as have been confirmed bear out their one-time existence. Whether they still exist, and by this time it is highly unlikely, is questionable. It makes no sense, however, knowing what we do know, for them to have never had existed in the first place.

  • fin

    “Adams could have told the ICJP what the Brits were proposing and asked them to act as guarantors.”

    How could they guarantee something from HMG which had not been said to them by HMG, let alone put down in writing? the ‘deal’ was delivered to them verbaly from Adams via Duddy.

    “Then he could have told the Brits that if when the Hunger Strike ended that they [the Brits] hadn’t released the statement immediately as promised”

    What statement, what did it say, get a promise to release a statement which you have no idea whats in it? once the stike is over the Brits could put anything they like on paper and claim thats all they offered.

    “then the Hunger Strikes would resume within 24 hours, as dozens of men were waiting in line to join the Hunger Strikes.”

    Wow, hungerstrike number 3, sorry folks our 2nd misunderstanding, we really must start getting these things in writing

    “If the Brits back tracked and reneged on their promise then the ICJP would have no choice to inform the world about the Brits nefarious tactics in bringing the Hunger Strike to an end ”

    No, the ICJP could inform the world what Adams had told them, Adams in turn could inform the world what Duddy had told him, the Brits could quite rightly deny it all.

    “and the Hunger Strike could have resumed with fresh men who had the moral high ground to themselves.”

    Would the 3rd hungerstrike end on a verbal agreement (3rd time lucky!) or do you think they would ask for something in writing

  • Dixie Elliott

    Fin if you even bothered to follow the debate you would see what the Brits had offered as I already posted it in another thread and it is contained within the FOI documents.

    It was the same that the ICJP had been offered, in fact didn’t Adams tell Crilly and Logue that the prisoners had more on offer than they [the Commission] had?

    Therefore both Adams and the ICJP knew what was on offer. Secondly the Brits said that they would show the statement to both the Hunger Strikers and the press as soon as PIRA gave a commitment to end the Hunger Strike.

    It was not a deal either, it was an offer which only becomes a deal when both sides agree.

  • Dixie Elliott

    In fact three days after the Hunger Strikes ended, on October 3rd, having fallen apart because of the families intervention SOS James Prior implemented effectively what was on offer from the 5th July.

    Now we know if the Hunger Strike had ended before the Fermanagh / South Tyrone by-election on August 20th that the SDLP would no longer need to stand aside and would have stood against Owen Carron and without doubt Ken Maginnis would have taken the seat.

    Therefore are we to presume that the Brits realising this would have wanted the Hunger Strikes to continue handing Sinn Fein another propaganda coup and having done this would’ve given in anyway upon the Hunger Strikes falling apart?

  • fin

    Dixie, read your own post, I commented on several points you mentioned, you talk about an offer filling 4 out of 5 demands, you then you on to talk about the possibility of a third hungerstrike.

    Also its worthwhile reading the statement republished above, it clearly states it wouldn’t be a commitment to end the hungerstrike that triggered its release, it was the ENDING of the hungerstrike.

    Dixie why did the first hungerstrike end? Rusty brushes over this?

    Why did a 2nd hungerstrike start? Rusty doesn’t say

    Are the reasons for the 2nd hungerstrike any different than the reasons you envisioned for a possible 3rd hungerstrike if Adams had done what you and Rusty believed he should have.

    Rusty says the offer had to be kept secret, because negotiating with the IRA would have “impacted relations with the Irish government” is this the same Irish Gov. that Fitzgerald claimed to have had a mole in the H-Blocks and knew all about the deal. If in 1981 these were the thoughts of HMG than the Irish gov would have had the same thoughts. Yes? and would have surely given Thatcher the nod. Yes?

    But thats all rubbish anyway Dixie because the whole world and the Irish Gov was calling on Thatcher to do a deal, so why did Thatcher have to keep it a secret?

  • Dixie Elliott

    ‘Dixie why did the first hungerstrike end? Rusty brushes over this?

    Why did a 2nd hungerstrike start? Rusty doesn’t say’
    fin

    This has been covered several times fin and I wrote this only recently…

    Why do all those supporting Adams keep pushing the lie that the Brits reneged on an offer during the first Hunger Strike? They know it’s a lie it has been documented that there was nothing in the piece of paper which the Dark hadn’t yet seen when he called off that Hunger strike to save Sean McKenna’s life.

    Father Meagher had just handed it to Adams when he got word that the Hunger Strike was over. So how can they renege on a deal not yet completed?

    In fact the part in that document concerning clothes, the most important of the Five Demands was nothing more than…

    “The prisoners would have to wear ‘prison-issue clothing’ during week-days, when they were engaged in prison work.”

    McGuinness advised people to read Ten Men Dead, well if you do so you’ll find it on page 44. It can also be found in Denis O’Hearn’s book, pages 295-302.
    When Bobby got to see the document he said to Father Meagher, “It wasn’t what we wanted.”

    And why would Bobby Sands be writing out a comm on the night that the Hunger Strike ended saying he would be starting another Hunger Strike on January 1st if there was an offer on the table? Don’t take my word on that, Jim Gibney said he seen that comm in a speech in March 2004, Bobby’s 50th birthday.

    Why do they continue to peddle this lie?

    ———————————————

    The second Hunger Strike began obviously because the first one had failed due to the Dark calling it off to save Sean’s life.

    You keep referring to a third Hunger Strike, where do I say this? I said that the second Hunger Strike could have been suspended for 24 hours to see if the Brits kept to their word, then if not, resumed with those who were waiting next in line.

    ————————————————

    ‘But that’s all rubbish anyway Dixie because the whole world and the Irish Gov was calling on Thatcher to do a deal, so why did Thatcher have to keep it a secret?’

    As was stated in the documents they weren’t going to admit negotiating with PIRA even when a deal was sealed. If again you fully read what Rusty wrote and others wrote this would be clear.

    If the IRA agreed to bring the Hunger Strikes to an end then they would as they did on October 6th, implement changes to the prison regime which contained that on offer from July 5th.

    The prisoners stated in their July 4th statement that they were willing to accept changes that included all prisoners whether political or not, which is ‘changes to the prison regime’ is it not?

  • what’s the point

    fin,
    it’s all in the choreography. Did you listen to the Gasyard online? Tommy Gorman, who was on the prison staff, spoke about the first hunger strike. He said that when it collapsed they decided to turn that collapse around to blaiming the Brits and adopted what was known as the “dirty joe” policy. The policy was to claim the Brits reneged on promises and to keep up this pretense, relatives would be asked to send in clothes. He claimed that it was a bluff and many others like him who were there have claimed the same. Listen to him yourself.

  • fin

    “Father Meagher had just handed it to Adams when he got word that the Hunger Strike was over. So how can they renege on a deal not yet completed?”

    Dixie, this was also the format for the 2nd hungerstrike ending.

    “As was stated in the documents they weren’t going to admit negotiating with PIRA even when a deal was sealed. If again you fully read what Rusty wrote and others wrote this would be clear.”

    Dixie, everyone and his brother was urging Thatcher to do a deal (except unionists) why keep it a secret, as I said previously the Isish gov knew, they had a mole in he prison, IF, that had been the atmosphere at the time (AND IT WASN’T) they could have informed HMG they knew and it was ok. The reality was the opposite, Thatcher stated publically that she would not take advice from a foreign gov (Irish) in talking to criminals.

  • Rusty Nail

    Regarding Garret Fitzgerald – let us read his own explanation. From his autobiography, All in a Life, published in 1991. Page 371.

    “During these weeks in July and early August I may also have been influenced more than I realised at the time by the frustration I felt at having to deal thereafter with the British government while I had, in a sense, one hand tied behind my back. For I would naturally have liked to confront them with — and would have liked even more to be able to make public — my knowledge of the furtive contacts on their behalf with the IRA, which seemed to have proved fatal to the resolution of the problem. But careful reflection led me to conclude that any revelation to the British of our knowledge of these activities would be likely to render a solution less rather than more likely. Disclosure of this knowledge could have drive the British government, and the Prime Minister in particular, into a state of embarrassed intransigence. This might have been accompanied by denials, which — if we had refused to accept them, as in honesty we would have had to do — would have made impossible the development of any kind of reasonable relationship between that government and ourselves. The fact moreover that our information, while absolutely convincing in its detail, was necessarily second-hand (it was what a member of the commission had told us Adams and Morrison had said to them) reinforced the need for caution.”

    It does not get more clear than that.

    However, to make it a little clearer – in last week’s Irish News, Fitzgerald revealed:

    “They were keen to accept that. We knew that. We had our sources within the prison,” he said.
    “As well as from the commission, we knew something was happening in the prison from other sources.”

    This would also be a factor as to why the then-Taoiseach could not press the British or make public what they knew.

  • fin

    “This might have been accompanied by denials…..”

    So even the Irish government didn’t trust Thatcher.

    “The government view is that if they (striking prisoners) wish to die, then they had better get on with it. It’s a standoff. If somebody dies, there will be a limited degree of disorder, but we think we are prepared for it. By and large, it (the hunger strike) is a test of nerve, and I think we (the British government) have enough nerve.”
    High ranking government official in Belfast
    Chicago Tribune, 3 March 1981

    “We shall continue in our efforts to stamp out terrorism. Mr. Sands was a convicted criminal. He chose to take his own life. It was a choice his organization did not give to many of their victims.”
    British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher
    Washington Post

    “Crime is crime is crime.

    It is not my habit or custom to meet members of parliament from a foreign country to talk about a citizen of the United Kingdom resident in the United Kingdom.”
    British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher on refusing to meet
    with Irish Prime Minister
    Charles Haughey
    Chicago Tribune, 22 April 1981

    “‘The government sees no justification for giving prisoners in Northern Ireland a substantially different regimen’ from those imprisoned elsewhere in Britain.”
    Northern Ireland Secretary Humphrey Atkins, after death of Thomas McElwee
    Washington Post, 9 August 1981,

    “I and my predecessors have already made clear that further development of the prison regime will be possible once duress is removed.”
    James Prior, British Secretary for Northern Ireland
    Chicago Tribune, 4 October 1981, 1-6

    ‘If you didn’t go on hunger strike when you were told to, you wouldn’t last very long, and neither would your family,’ she said…”
    Jill Knight, member of British Parliament
    Chicago Tribune, 7 October 1981

  • what’s the point

    fin,

    What relevance is all of that to the current debate. I’m sure you’re aware that all sides had both a public and private position and that private positions differed to the public positions, very much so in the case of the Brits as evidenced in the FOI documents.

  • fin

    Bingo whats the point. Well done for seeing the light (finally)

    so at what point was Thatchers private position going to meet her public position and become one?

  • Dixie Elliott

    25.“Father Meagher had just handed it to Adams when he got word that the Hunger Strike was over. So how can they renege on a deal not yet completed?”

    Fin, I already posted on this and obviously you ignored every point I made…

    What Father Meagher handed Adams was a worthless piece of paper and the Dark hadn’t seen it when he called of the Hunger Strike. In fact the main demand was clothing and work was another and this as I’ve pointed out several times was the part of that worthless piece of paper regarding these demands;

    “The prisoners would have to wear ‘prison-issue clothing’ during week-days, when they were engaged in prison work.”

    Would you call that an offer?…There was nothing contained within those documents that would have ended that Hunger Strike even had Dark let Sean McKenna die.

  • Dixie Elliott

    Fin, All these statements you posted above merely confirms what we were saying that the Brits were never going to admit negotiating with the IRA over the Hunger Strikes.

    Now while they were making these statements and many others in public we know that they were in talks with Adams via the Mountain Climber, that is beyond doubt, even Bik now admits this. Not only that but according to Adams in his autobiography, he was on the phone to a British official when the phone went dead, he then heard that Joe had died.

    Now this proves that at that vital stage the Brits were in direct contact with Adams and not via the Mountain Climber. Why would the Brits be in direct contact with Adams if they didn’t see the need to push things on at this, as I say, vital stage?

    This point, which is from Adams mouth that he was in contact with the Brits, begs the question was this why they kept stalling on going in during that time? Where they waiting on Adams to agree to what was on offer? And we already know that the IRA was saying more was needed from Brendan Duddy. We also know from Bik’s comm at that time that he was saying to Adams that ‘if we don’t pull this off and Joe dies the IRA are going to come in for some stick.’

    What do you think he was talking about pulling off?

    Fin you are good at side stepping awkward questions and I see you’ve ignored the point I made about the 20th August by-election and the implementing of the offer that was on the table from July 5th after the Hunger Strikes finally fell apart.

  • fin

    “Fin, All these statements you posted above merely confirms what we were saying that the Brits were never going to admit negotiating with the IRA over the Hunger Strikes.”

    Which Dixie, if they were going to publish the statement of what they verbally promised they would have to admit negotiating with the IRA, however as they would only publish AFTER the hungerstrike ended why bother following through, they’ve publically condemned the prisoners and the IRA constantly during the hungerstrike, so who would believe Adams that he had a verbal ‘offer’.

    Any political (or indeed anyone) considering doing a ‘U-turn’ needs to pave the way.

    Regarding the by-election, 05/07 – 20/08, lets address it, run me through your timeline, offer made 5th July, offer accepted when, announced when, offer publically agreed when, who claims victory, when does the world media calm down, when does the SDLP announce they will stand, when does the SDLP election campaign start.

    Are you claiming that once the offer becomes a public deal the worlds reporters go home and write about something else, are you saying SF would not claim a victory going into the election, are you saying that the SDLP had their posters and workers all ready, are you saying that the voters would forget about the hungerstrike in a few days and all would go back to normal.

    Dixie, the rubbish about the by-election is a red herring, its people who ignore what the atmosphere was like at the time and just look at dates and events and concoct a storyline that fits

    What better way to fight an election than on a platform of having defeated Thatcher, made her talk to the IRA and concede 4 out of 5 demands.

    It didn’t happen because you don’t have to be a genius to work out that if someone will only tell you something verbally in private they are not going to publish it in public.