“We on the outside finessed…”

In today’s Belfast Telegraph, Liam Clarke observes Danny Morrison’s admission that “we on the outside finessed the sequence of events for the sake of morale” at the end of the 1980 hunger strike. This is a major admission, as it changes the whole narrative that had been pushed for years, and also removes the main defence that the Morrison narrative had employed as to why O’Rawe’s version of events was wrong. Previously, it had been argued that the reason why Thatcher’s July 1981 offer was not accepted was because of British duplicity over the deal secured during the 1980 hunger strike. With Morrison’s admission that no such deal existed, and that the British reneging was a false claim, that argument falls apart.



Quotes from Danny Morrison, Brendan McFarlane, Laurence McKeown and Gerry Adams on the end of the 1980 hunger strike:

Although it is now well-known that Brendan Hughes ended the hunger strike unilaterally, without consulting his O/C Bobby Sands, we on the outside finessed the sequence of events for the sake of morale and at a midnight press conference merged the secret arrival of a British government document (promising a more enlightened prison regime: falsely, as it turned out) with the ending of the hunger strike.

It was either that or admit – which to the republican base was inconceivable – that Brendan had ended the strike without getting a thing.

Bobby – who turned out to be right – did not believe the British had any intention of working the unsecured promises contained in the document. But we begged him to put them to the test and that if the administration made things impossible then it could be claimed that the Brits were reneging.

Had the British taken the opportunity to resolve the prison crisis at that juncture history certainly would have been different. Instead, the British crowed victory in their briefings to the press and the prison administration felt smug, unbridled and under no obligation.

This bitter experience was to sear itself in the minds of the prisoners who were determined that there would never be a repeat of that scenario.

Tragically, the stage was set for 1981.
Danny Morrison, Andersonstown News, 2011


Previously:

The political responsibility for the hunger strike, and the deaths that resulted from it, both inside and outside the prison, lies with Margaret Thatcher, who reneged on the deal which ended the first hunger strike. This bad faith and duplicity lead directly to the deaths of our friends and comrades in 1981.
Brendan McFarlane, Andersonstown News, 2005


The 1981 hunger strike was a direct result of the 1980 hunger strike. The British government had said that it would not act under duress but would respond with a progressive and liberal prison regime once it ended. The prisoners called off the fast to save the life of Seán McKenna. However, the British immediately reneged on their promises. Because of this duplicity the hunger strikers of 1981 were adamant that any deal must be copperfastened.
Danny Morrison, Irish Times, 2005

The government had promised the same at Christmas 1980 when the first hunger strike ended, only to renege on its promises. Because of this duplicity the prisoners in the second hunger strike wanted any agreement to be copper fastened.
Danny Morrison, Daily Ireland, 2005


Yes, offers were made and discussed and clarified but when we tried to tie the British government down on a mechanism for ensuring they could not renege (as they had at the end of the first hunger strike) they procrastinated. The hunger strikers – as Laurence McKeown made clear the other day – “wanted definite confirmation, not vague promises of ‘regime change’.”
Danny Morrison, Daily Ireland, 2005

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’. We had all of that in December 1980.
Laurence McKeown, An Phoblacht, 2005


The 1981 hunger strike came out of the 1980 hunger strike. The British sent a document to the prisoners which they claimed could be the basis for a settlement. However, the prisoners had already ended the strike before they received the document. The British reneged on their assurances almost immediately. That was why the second hunger strikers were to demand verification of any deal to end their hunger strike.
Danny Morrison, Daily Ireland, 2006


In December 1980 the republican leadership on the outside was in contact with the British who claimed they were interested in a settlement. But before a document outlining a new regime arrived in the jail the hunger strike was called off by Brendan Hughes to save the life of the late Sean McKenna. The British, or sections of them, interpreted this as weakness. The prisoners ended their fast before a formal ‘signing off’. And the British then refused to implement the spirit of the document and reneged on the integrity of our exchanges. Their intransigence triggered a second hunger strike in which there was overwhelming suspicion of British motives among the hunger strikers, the other political prisoners, and their families and supporters on the outside.
Gerry Adams, Irish News, 2009

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  • The Word

    “finessed the sequence of events for the sake of morale”

    Is this the beginning of the full truth about the second hunger-strike, and how it seems that the morale of the republican movement was put ahead of the lives of six hunger-strikers? Has Danny got the will to put Gerry in a lot of trouble over this?

    Or is it the release of a well-known truth in order to firm up the story of the second hunger strike?

  • Cynic2

    Sinn Fein lied? Never!!!!!

  • alan56

    This whole affair is a good example of the tensions and contradictions that arise between political ambition and moral purity. Political ambition usually wins..at least in the short term.

  • tacapall

    “Is this the beginning of the full truth about the second hunger-strike, and how it seems that the morale of the republican movement was put ahead of the lives of six hunger-strikers”

    The Word is this the gospel according to you or have you any actual evidence to back up that claim, whatever the differences between O’Rawes version of events and the leadership no mention was ever made of letting comrades die because of “Morale” political opportunism yes or distrust of the British yes, I believe most people now know your political agenda and take anything you say with a pinch of salt.

  • The Word

    Tacapall

    I use the word “Morale” in the broadest possible terms, as this may the means by which an entire community was affected by these events. Richard O’Rawe’s definition is narrower in that it was done to further Gerry Adams and Sinn Fein’s political ambitions.

    But I recall that time and it wasn’t just republicans who wanted the hunger strikers to succeed in their endeavours. A lot of SDLP people supported their demands. It was only later when Sinn Fein entered politics and the SDLP membership became the subjects of intimidation and such like that they became hostile to Sinn Fein in a more concerted way than in the 1970s when Sinn Fein were just slagging us off.

    But , yes, “morale” is of Sinn Fein and it might be big of them to admit it now rather than looking for the rest of us to defy reason in supporting a case they have lost.

  • hodgie

    the only decent thing to do now is put this issue to bed once and for all with full disclosure of all contacts, details of offers and replies to those offers.

    the crumbling wall of denials and about-turns from the adams camp since richard o rawe published banketmen leaves them looking rather mendacious and untrustworthy.

    time for the tell-all story and to hell with adams’ happy ending narrative. there is no happy ending.

  • Cynic2

    Tacapall

    There you go again. You don’t analyse or discuss or deal with the evidence .You just assert, attack the individual and accuse them of being:

    1 stupid
    2 a bigot
    3 biased

  • Cynic2

    “full disclosure of all contacts, details of offers and replies to those offers..”

    But that cant happen. SF have conferred quasi-sainthood on the hunger strikers. To discover the Truth now would be like exposing that Mary Magdalene set up the Crucifixion in a behind the scenes deal with Pontius Pilate.

    The entire edifice of ideology and cant could not stand.

  • tacapall

    Cynic2 – “Sinn Fein lied? Never”

    Yes thats a good one.

  • hodgie

    “..SF have conferred quasi-sainthood on the hunger strikers.”

    the hunger strikers haven’t conferred sainthood on sinn fein.

    but you are correct, discovering the truth could bring down the edifice, probably won’t, but it could. they will continue to search out wiggle room and keep blaming everybody from richard o rawe to the dirty brits to god knows who else; but it is coming to near the end of the road for their lies.

  • Dixie Elliott

    I recently posted this on another thread….

    Richard O’Rawe proved that you can be caught out lying but never in telling the truth and never once has he had to retract what he said. Unlike Danny Morrison who had a piece in this weeks Andytown News in which he has effectively rubbished their claims that the Brits reneged on a deal during the 1st Hunger Strike…

    Danny said:

    “Although it is now well-known that Brendan Hughes ended the hunger strike unilaterally, without consulting his O/C Bobby Sands, we on the outside finessed the sequence of events for the sake of morale and at a midnight press conference merged the secret arrival of a British government document (promising a more enlightened prison regime: falsely, as it turned out) with the ending of the hunger strike.

    It was either that or admit – which to the republican base was inconceivable – that Brendan had ended the strike without getting a thing.

    Bobby – who turned out to be right – did not believe the British had any intention of working the unsecured promises contained in the document. But we begged him to put them to the test and that if the administration made things impossible then it could be claimed that the Brits were reneging. ”

    Now the British government document as Danny knows was in the hands of Fr Meagher en-route to the prison when Brendan Hughes ended the Hunger Strike and it contained the line…

    “As soon as possible all prisoners will be issued with civilian-type clothing for wear during the working day”

    Effectively what conforming prisoners were entitled to, so what unsecured promises of regime change did it contain that Danny said could be claimed that the Brits were reneging on?

    But surely if this is true in that “if the administration made things impossible then it could be claimed that the Brits were reneging” Then what were they reneging on if, to quote Danny, “we on the outside finessed the sequence of events for the sake of morale”

    Most importantly if the Brits didn’t ‘renege’ on an offer/deal, then the men on the 2nd Hunger Strike were labouring under a misapprehension, when, they were insisting on a Brit official coming in to endorse any offer ‘because of the way the Brits had reneged at the end of the first hunger strike’.

    Why weren’t those men told that in fact the Brits never made any deal to renege on and why was this line used in order to discredit O’Rawe by Adams, Morrison, McGuinness etc since the publication of his first book?

  • Mark McGregor

    Same old, same old.

    You haven’t come up with a sucker punch yet.

    ‘He said, she said’ – all that has happened so far is you thoroughly dragged the Hunger Striker’s names & aims through the mud without landing a single punch on living people you have issues with.

  • Mark

    Dixie ,

    Are you saying that there was no deal at all ? that the whole thing was made up .

  • The Word

    “You haven’t come up with a sucker punch yet.”

    Actually the sucker punch came a long time ago, and Gerry Adams has simply been in denial ever since.

    He’s standing in the ring with his eyes closed, hands by his side and, only for the protection of the republican referee machine, who’s doing a really slow count, everybody would realise that it is all over.

    Nobody expects republicans to be warm hearted when they perceive themselves to be at war, but to coldly calculate that these men were soldiers, with soldier duties, is beyond the Pale where he seeks his next electoral victory.

    Can there be really a single Sinn Fein supporter who’s not aware of Gerry’s duplicity and thanking God he’s on their side. But that’s just not good enough.

  • pippakin

    The more time goes on the more lies are exposed but surely the real question is is anyone surprised.

    This is dangerous timing for Sinn Fein why on earth did Danny Morrison choose this time?

  • Dixie Elliott

    Mark we are talking about the 1st Hunger Strike here which ended in December 1980 when Brendan Hughes called off that Hunger Strike to save Sean McKenna’s life.

    Morrison and those defending Adams always claimed that the Brits had made a deal during the first Hunger Strike [1980] therefore the prisoners on the 2nd Hunger Strike needed any agreement copperfastened to quote Danny Morrison from above in 2006…

    Or another example from Danny….

    “The 1981 hunger strike came out of the 1980 hunger strike. The British sent a document to the prisoners which they claimed could be the basis for a settlement. However, the prisoners had already ended the strike before they received the document. The British reneged on their assurances almost immediately. That was why the second hunger strikers were to demand verification of any deal to end their hunger strike.”

    – Danny Morrison, Daily Ireland, 2006

    The thing about the above mentioned document was that it was actually in the hands of Gerry Adams in Belfast when the Hunger Strike ended, given to him by Fr. Meagher, who in turn had collected it from a government courier at the airport.

    Therefore what the Brits agreed to [nothing] was already contained in that document and in the hands of Gerry Adams when they got word that the Hunger Strike had ended. In fact as I pointed out, on the most important of the five demands, Clothing and work the document said;

    ’As soon as possible all prisoners will be issued with civilian-type clothing for wear during the working day’

    Civilian type clothing was in effect a newer prison-uniform and as it said, to wear during the working day, which meant having to do prison work.

    Now if the above was contained in a document which Adams was holding when the Hunger Strike ended how could the Brits renege on something they stated clearly in that document they had no intention of giving anyway?

    There was no regime change without movement on clothing and having to do prison work and Bobby Sands confirmed that on returning to the wing that night when he said, Ní fhuaireomar faic,’ [we got nothing].

    Read the section on the 1st Hunger Strike in Bobby Sands: Nothing But an Unfinished Song by Denis O’Hearn regarding what I wrote above.

    Which means that the men on the 2nd Hunger Strike were led to believe that the Brits had made a deal during the 1st Hunger Strike which they reneged on. Which never happened.

  • Dixie Elliott

    Mark McGregor says

    “Same old, same old.

    You haven’t come up with a sucker punch yet.

    ‘He said, she said’ – all that has happened so far is you thoroughly dragged the Hunger Striker’s names & aims through the mud without landing a single punch on living people you have issues with.”

    Mark, of course in threads like this there’ll always be the likes of you not knowing what you’re waffling about but battering ahead anyway in order to make your mark so to speak.

    This isn’t about sucker punches or dragging brave men’s names through the mud, its about the truth. Do you believe the truth should be buried in the past?

    I respect anyone who’ll argue the point with me but hecklers, especially on something so important as this, really piss me off.

  • Cynic2

    They were conned …..by Sinn Fein.

    So what. Your entire community was conned by SInn Fein and PIRA for over 30 years.

    Why are West and North Belfast in the state they are? What have Sinn Fein delivered – a new bathroom from NIHE and the odd Irish Language sign that you cant read?

    Is that what you really wanted while your kids education is a mess, they have no real hope of a good job, your taps have just run dry and you are going to have to pay about £500 a family in fines to the EU because they paid out subsidies illegally to fat cat farmers?

    Still never mind they will wave a flag, shout “Brits out” and “Dont forget the Hunger Strikers” and tell you to vote for them again. And you will ……wont you?

  • Mark

    Dixie ,

    I know which strike you are talking about .

    With all due respect , I think the leadership had the Hunger Striker’s best interest’s at heart at all times .

    I think Danny Morrison isn’t the only one who can finesse .

  • slappymcgroundout

    Vindicated at last, vindicated at last, thank God Almighty I’m vindicated at last (to borrow the one phrase, with appropriate substitution (“vindicated” in lieu of “free”)).

    As I wrote not so long ago:

    “By the way, when you understand the dynamic, then you will know why the leadership outside ALWAYS opposed hunger strike. ALWAYS. You see, some might not be as hard ass as them, and so demand, British responsive position, leaving Sinn Fein/PIRA outside the prison in the wholly unenviable position of having to guage whether any rejection leading to death of hunger striker will serve to discredit the movement (or the opposite, an early end that is seen as weak capitulation). And as Gerry told Peter Taylor during the one interview back at that time, otherwise impossible for those outside to fairly judge the merit of the strike, the merit of any response, and thus whether the strike should continue, as they are outside and not inside the prison. That’s why the policy has always been, no hunger strike, and if you folks go ahead anyway, you inside are in charge, and not us, since that way, no one can blame us for any of the deaths and we aren’t put in the morally untenable position of being asked to judge with respect to conditions that we are not enduring. The long and short of the matter is, simply, that in the case of the hunger strike, the inside of the prison holds those outside hostage (how in Deity’s name can those outside not support the hunger strike once it has begun?). And that’s how we go from the report of the one soul above, to wit, “We are tactically, strategically, physically and morally opposed to a hunger strike” to “we steadfastly support the hunger strikers”.”

    And so, as related in the opening post:

    “we on the outside finessed the sequence of events for the sake of morale”…”It was either that or admit – which to the republican base was inconceivable – that Brendan had ended the strike without getting a thing.”

    And that’s why the outside NEVER EVER wants a hunger strike.

    Lastly, Rusty, you are going nowhere fast. Or more correctly, you are wasting valuable adenosine triphosphate pursuing a thesis that has no end but abject failure. For the third time, if the Brits had ever wished to make a reasonable offer, had done so, and the same was rejected by anyone in the movement, all the Brits need have done is go on the tele and repeat the strikers’ demands, their response, and then ask, just who is being reasonable here?

    I didn’t say that, one of the hunger strikers did, in An Phoblacht:

    “So, this Tory cabinet of Maggie Thatcher, having decided that it was in Britain’s best interest to act to break the Hunger Strike, comes up with a list of concessions they are prepared to make, presents this to the leadership of the Republican Movement, who supposedly reject them and what do the Brits do? They walk away with their tails between their legs.

    If the British had thought it was in their interest to end the Hunger Strike then they would have done so regardless of what the Republican Movement did or did not do. They would simply have gone to the media – having first confided with and secured the support of the SDLP, the Catholic hierarchy and the Dublin government – and announced concessions they were prepared to make. We on hunger strike would then have been faced with either calling it off or trying to continue with a now deeply divided support base, not to mention internal and family divisions. It’s not rocket science.”

    Well, it is “rocket science” for some others. To not include Mr. O’Rawe as he is simply trying to increase book sales (he is the one doing the deluding and not one of the deluded). When you get that point Rusty, you’ll see how your thesis has nowhere to go but the route of abject failure. I trust that you know that the Brits would have no trouble getting the support of Dublin, the RCC, and the SDLP, as each of those didn’t want the hunger strike in the first instance, and none had any interest in continued existence of the PIRA. And if you haven’t also figured it out, the replacement for worthy counteroffer was to admit the Red Cross into the prison, since their report would not serve to validate the hunger strikers’ demands. And that’s how the Brits escape blame. At least in the eyes of the larger world, with whom they were more concerned at the time.

    Oh, and Rusty, one of your other more obvious errors, from a post here on Slugger back in 09:

    It has been said by some who subscribe to the Morrison narrative of events that the Brits wanted the Provos to ‘call off the strike’ before they would move on any deal. Such language however is without nuance and negates the reality of what was happening.

    Now, from a piece in the Washington Post, 8 July 1981:

    “”British officials have contended that the prisoners could trust the government to make the discussed changes because it has carried out numerous other steps to liberalize the prison regime in Northern Ireland during the last two years. Only continuation of the hunger strike, British sources said, was stopping the government from beginning immediately to make more improvements.”

    The Brits never informed the Washington Post that it had gotten the story wrong. As you can otherwise imagine, if the hunger strikers had demanded X and the Brits accepted X, then the Brits could demonstrate not only their good faith but also fulfill their end of the deal by making the change while the hunger strike was still in progress. You might want to read the one interview of the one British soul in Maggie’s govt at the time, since he reports that no deal was ever going to be made, since if there was, there would be no end to hunger striking (i.e., they’d get what they want now, then go on hunger strike later for something else, then again, and again, and again, ad infinitum). And so the British let them die to prove to them and everyone else in the world that the Brits weren’t about to be coerced by means of hunger strike as that coercion would have no end.

    For one more, in addition to book sales, you might want to ask O’Rawe how much he is being paid to serve as Maggie’s sock puppet. More specifically, listen to Maggie here, starting at 6:18:

    http://www.youtube.com/user/thenewlodge#p/u/82/FiGrcSc09ao

    Such is their cold, calculated cynicism, and never mind that I (Maggie) could have stated during this same address the British govt’s reasonable response to hunger striker demands. She didn’t. Draw the only reasonable conclusion. She was clearly trying to attribute blame for death. What better way than to state your reasonable counteroffer to their demands? She never did that. Again, draw the only reasonable conclusion. And when you see Mr. O’Rawe kindly tell him for me that he will be known to me forevermore as Maggie’s sock puppet. And I’m being generous, since lying about matters over the graves of dead humans is most unbecoming.

  • granni trixie

    The cult of suicide in any form is such a bad example for young people today.

  • Cynic2

    Slappy

    “I’m being generous, since lying about matters over the graves of dead humans is most unbecoming.”

    What….like Jean McConville’s? Charlie Armstrong’s?

    Did you clear that with the Press Office before you posted it? What will the leadership think?

    As for your arguments, I regret to say that I have seen string vests with much more substance

  • Brendan Hughes called off that Hunger Strike to save Sean McKenna’s life, it is a great pity other senior republicans did not act accordingly during the second hunger strike to save hunger strikers lives.

    I welcome Danny’s decision to come clean about the ending of the first hunger strike and hope it will be the beginning of the end of this controversy.

    I feel some of those who today condemn Adams handling of the H/S make lite of the responsibilities he carried back then. His duty was not to the HS alone, but to the movement as a whole. Maybe with hindsight he made the wrong call, but so too did those who now condemn him when they maintained well beyond its sell by date, the legend the British renegaded on the offer they made to end the first HS. If ever an example of legend becoming fact, this was it.

    Lets hope Adams will eventually find the strength to say, this is what we did back then and why we did it, whether we were right or wrong history will decide. No easy task I admit.

    The problem is if people wish to judge, they need to do so through the prism of the time and circumstances of 1981, not 2011.

  • Dixie Elliott

    slappymcgroundout, typically you make a point and draw it out in all it’s long-windedness so that the reader eventually tires and dozes off before actually figuring out what you are talking about. In-between you tell the reader that Rusty has made obvious errors while Richard O’Rawe is doing it all to sell books. Oh and to spread it thicker he is being paid as Maggie’s sock puppet…Sweet fuck why didn’t you throw in the anti-Republican Journalists while you were at it? They usually burn well in a SF witch hunt.

    Anyway lets pluck out the point you were actually making….

    “If the British had thought it was in their interest to end the Hunger Strike then they would have done so regardless of what the Republican Movement did or did not do. They would simply have gone to the media – having first confided with and secured the support of the SDLP, the Catholic hierarchy and the Dublin government – and announced concessions they were prepared to make.”

    The Brits obviously didn’t want it known they were talking to the IRA or conceding to a Hunger Strike, therefore they wanted the leadership of the IRA to ensure that the Hunger Strike was ended before they would announce concessions. This is why they were in secret contact with Adams via the Mountain Climber, while the spotlight was on the ICJP/NIO negotiations.

    In fact we know that up until 6th July that the ICJP weren’t aware, until told by Adams, that he was in contact with the Foreign Office. He told them because he wanted them to step aside.

    Why did he want those [The ICJP] who had told the Hunger Strikers the previous day that they would act as guarantors over any settlement to step aside?

  • The Word

    Dixie

    Slappy seems to have been prepared for his rant. As you will know these arguments don’t just materialise?

    There really is no point to all these longwinded arguments. They simply keep missing the point as Slappy knows. The point is Gerry Adams’s ambition to be a politician. It all comes back to that.

    I have my own belief about who was schooling Adams at that time, and who are more afraid than Adams about these revelations will hurt, Adams is the one who put his neck on the line, and he let his friends die.

  • MichaelMac

    Rusty and RNU and their rag bag of followers have expended an awful lot of energy on what exactly? Despite their best efforts to construct controvewrsy (even recruting Liam Clarke) have they influenced one single person?

    As life passes them by and they consume their own lives with bitterness most people just ignore them. Get a life and move on.

  • Cynic2

    “Get a life and move on”

    Aye nothing to see here….or at least nothing we want anyone to see

    But isn’t that a strange stance fro a SF supporter? I thought you always wanted to see truth and justice?

  • MichaelMac

    “But isn’t that a strange stance fro a SF supporter? I thought you always wanted to see truth and justice?”

    Of course and the truth is there for all to see. Your own snarling contributions put you in the same kennel as Rusty and crew. I think the truth is the last thing on any of your minds.

  • The Word

    “the same kennel as Rusty and crew”

    Hard to think of a more “dogged” thing to do than to let your friends die for “morale” or for political career, which means the same thing to a Sinn Fein republican.

  • MichaelMac

    Hallelujah brother.

  • The Word

    MM

    You’re attitude is typical of the cute hoor/shit house rat mentality at the centre of Sinn Fein support.

    Damn everybody, we got the votes. The funniest thing is that when anything is drone on one of them, they want a federal case to be made.

  • MichaelMac

    My attitude is quite clear, you and a very few interested others are scurrying around trying to find a story where none exists. Your posts indicate that no amount of debate or persuasion can get you away from the events that lurk in the darkest part of your mind. Whatever the story your take on events are the truth. A classic mental condition.

    You indicate in one of your posts that you were attached to the SDLP and from that it is clear where your hostility comes from. Good luck in your attempts to confront your demons.

  • Mark

    The Word ,

    Between the jigs and the reels , you don’t know what you want ! .

    You ask republicans to put away their guns …. and they do . You ask them to join you in a political arena ….. and they do . Now that they’re there , YOU don’t know what to do !

  • The Word

    MM

    I’ve actually read Richard O’Rawe’s books. Have you? I really wonder who’s deluded, someone who supports the betrayal of their friends as the ends justifying the means or those who try to draw attention to the sheer callousness of such thinking.

    Mark

    “Now that they’re there , YOU don’t know what to do !”

    I have no trouble with them being there. You’ll see that the force of my argument is in relation to their morality. I am simply proving that it is as failed as unionist morality. But if they have an argument, let’s be having it. I’m into full information so that this era generates a sustainable morality of individuals, businesses and nations, a one world morality that reflects the communication of natural empathy to mankind through pain and suffering that originates in the process of natural evolution and death given to us, in Christian terms, through God’s ways.

  • Mark

    It’s a pity you were’nt into full information when you were covering up all those dreadful child abuse cases .

  • Mark

    While you’re there , one more thing . You got their agrument and so did the people of the North . Then there were elections . You might not remember ?

    Maybe your head was in the clouds !

  • The Word

    Mark

    I think you’ll find that “full information” was and is prevalent in all that. I don’t condone cover-ups.

    “You got their agrument”

    All I heard was that the SDLP were “middleclass” and their arguments were thus suspect. And this coming from an ideology that comes straight from the middleclass Protestantism of yesteryear.

    Then there was the retrospective justification of IRA violence that is ongoing. That concerns me as it is just vulgar. But it is a central plank of Sinn Fein ideology.

    But the bottom line is that Sinn Fein never argue with anybody that they can’t manipulate, bribe, blackmail, intimidate, bully or browbeat. They have no argument other than the old IRA argument, that everybody fears them.

    But you know that sometimes that just doesn’t prove to be true. Sometimes somebody just gets in the way and he just won’t move no matter how they try to abuse him and his. He might be said to have a better hand than they can ever dream of.

  • Mark

    There will always be critics like you who make a song and dance about everything . You can’t please someone like you .

    Here the thing from where I’m standing . This country has been to the mill and back in the last 40 yrs . Just when people are starting to recover , along comes a merchant of doom like you with your tales of woe and darkness . People don’t want to hear it anymore .

    They should stick you in a tent and zip the fuck!n thing up .. and find the biggest padlock in town .

    And they should melt the key .

  • The Word

    “along comes a merchant of doom like you with your tales of woe and darkness”

    You will find that I’m trying to leave this place in a better position than I found it. But I smile at the deep irony of a Sinn Fein supporter referring to “a merchant of doom” and “darkness”.

    Have you ever heard of the “light” of the gospels?

  • Mark

    This place is just fine at the moment . It might be leaking but the killing has stopped . While you weren’t around for that , the least you can do is get on board .

    I know it’s difficult for you little sdlp boys to accept a secondary role in all this , but you have to make the effort . It’s for the good of the country , you know that right ?

  • Dixie Elliott

    Mark I’ve just went down your last few posts and they remind me of someone being slowly overcome by intoxication.

  • Mark

    Didn’t like the finesse remark Dixie . Thought about it today ?

  • Mark

    You guys on the quill and the sdlp boys make stange bedfellows , don’t you think ?

  • Mark

    Still it’s nice to see there is some comradeship between you .

  • The Word

    “the least you can do is get on board”

    Ditto.

    “a secondary role”

    Has somebody a better argument?

    “the good of the country” – Is that the same country that Sinn Fein believes it is the true representative of?

    “some comradeship” – Yes, I respect the integrity of Dixie’s arguments. Leaders able to think like him can only have been who John Hume referred to when he told Adams in a radio interview that he wanted to speak to the real leaders of the republican movement, not the puppets. Adams would never have thought of the big bombs in Britain, would he?.

  • Mark

    Maybe Dixie can have a word with the Doc and you can have a weekly slot in the run up to the elections . I’m sure you will be right at home there !

  • slappymcgroundout

    “They usually burn well in a SF witch hunt.”

    Sorry, Thomas, but it isn’t me but Mr. O’Rawe who is carrying the torch that is being used to burn the SF witches.

    For more of your absurdity, if the Brits make concessions following, everyone and their dogs will understand that end of hunger strike = concessions. Notion of “decent interval” didn’t work for Nixon and Kissinger and it wouldn’t have worked here either.

    For yet more absurdity, so long as the PIRA understand that the Brits have conceded any demand, in whole or in part, then the PIRA will know that they can use hunger strike again in the future to obtain yet more demands. That is precisely what the Brits wished to avoid. And more hunger strike not only by you folk, but by every soul in Her Majesty’s jails and prisons. Perhaps the fellow serving 40 to life goes on hunger strike demanding a release for the Cannes Film Festival every year, I mean, something has to be done to relieve the spirit-crushing boredom and repetition that is prison. And the other soul wants a plasma tv. Where would it end? As soon as some are allowed to die. And so not even you went on hunger strike again.

    Next, as I remarked in another thread, any purported deal could otherwise be broken at will by the Brits as soon as the hunger strike ended. What would you do if the Brits reneged on any deal, go back on hunger strike yet again? How foolish would that look? And would your motto be, third time’s the charm? That’s why you never end the hunger strike until the Brits actually begin to implement the deal. PIRA good faith in such instance is simply that, presumably, none of the hunger strikers wishes to die of starvation, and so once the Brits begin to implement their end, the strike will end.

    Next, sorry that it doesn’t suit your fancy, but Mr. O’Rawe is Maggie’s sock puppet. If you haven’t figured it out yet, what O’Rawe implies is what Maggie clearly stated at the time, to wit, a cold, calculated cynicism that values dead PIRA more than live PIRA. That is the implication of O’Rawe’s claim, yes? That some were allowed to die to gain Sinn Fein electoral advantage, yes? Is there a greater cold, calculated cynicism? And so O’Rawe is Maggie’s sock puppet. And for how pathetic Mr. O’Rawe well and truly is, he didn’t have a problem with any of this so long as he too was Sinn Fein. But now that he isn’t, all of a sudden he has qualms of conscience and the truth just must be told. Right.

    Lastly, if you well and truly wish to apportion blame for death, as I remarked in another thread, the hunger strike was staggered so that once Bobby Sands died, the moral pressure on the others to continue would then be overwhelming, lest they let poor dead Bobby down. And then when the next one dies, the moral pressure is that much greater as now there’s two dead souls to let down. And then a third. And so on. So if you well and truly wish to apportion blame for death, blame your hero Bobby Sands, since he was the soul with the “bright” idea of staggering the hunger strike. Such was simply immoral.

  • Mainland Ulsterman

    Stop press: Republican spins pathetic failure into heroic victory

  • Cynic2

    MichaelMac

    Sorry…I thought it was SF members who allegedly kept people in dog kennels

  • Cynic2

    Is it just me, but it does seem that a number of the republican posters on here have become very aggressive of late – much more prone to vicious personal attacks and nasty words.

    What can be the cause? A loss of self confidence perhaps?

    Perhaps its the fact that the Great Leader has shuffled off the NI Political Coil to try his luck in a bog in Louth leaving behind a rag bag of incompetents whose actions will soon make us all long for his return. First there is Conor , the leader in waiting, with water water everywhere but not a drop to drink. Michelle ‘Subsidy’ Gildernew who has so mishandled the dole out that we are to be fined hundreds of millions. And finally, but not least, Catatonia, about whom its completely unnecessary to really say anything more as even party supporters recognise that she’s useless.

    Then there’s the problemette that the narrative of the sainthood of the hunger strikers is beginning to unravel as it emerges that deals on offer were never put to them for electoral advantage leaving them martyrs not so much to the cause of Irish Unity – a noble pursuit – but to personal political ambitions.

    Sill, I am sure that all those sales of good suits have boosted trade in west Belfast clothing emporia and assuaged those concerns that senior party members have lied to the faithful. In any case many of their poor benighted supporters would rather believe that trans-substantiation was a myth than accept that SF had misled them and sacrificed so many young me in such a callous way.

    So yes, perhaps I can see why they are so keen now to bare their teeth on Slugger.

  • Pat Mc Larnon

    I love the way some people on this blog just ignore the facts. The fact is that Bobby Sands and the leadership on the outside tried to rescue the situation created by the collapse of the hunger strike. According to Denis O’Hearn, in his biography of Bobby Sands, after Brendan Hughes ended the hunger strike before the arrival of the British document the prisoners “would have to trust that the written agreement would be acceptable.”

    On December 19th, 1980, the day after the strike ended, Bobby Sands issued a statement that the prisoners would not wear prison-issue clothing nor do prison work.

    To quote O’Hearn again: the prisoners “agreed that it [the document] was nowhere near what they wanted. Yet they could try to use its ambiguities to win some rights. If the authorities met the ambiguities without generosity, the prisoners would have to intensify their protest anew.”

    Bobby then began negotiations with the prison governor, Stanley Hilditch, for a step-by-step de-escalation of the protest. Quoting Bobby again: “The Brits are not going to give us a way out…There is no bend in them and we can’t accept conformity”.

    After the authorities rebuffed their efforts, Bobby wrote: “We discovered that our good will and flexibility were in vain. It was made abundantly clear during one of my co-operation meetings with prison officials that strict conformity was required which in essence meant acceptance of criminal status.”

    I am surprised Richard O’Rawe hasn’t confirmed that Bobby Sands and the outside leadership used the document to try and rescue the situation. After all, in his book he says that Bobby told him, “We didn’t get anything.” He wrote: “It had been a mammoth task to cover up the fact that the hunger strike had collapsed and that the five demands were as far from being met as ever…To keep up the illusion that we had gained something from the hunger strike, Bobby and Bik told us to put on an air of elation during visits with our families.”

    Perhaps, Liam Clarke should have read ‘Blanketmen’ before making an ass of himself.

  • Dixie Elliott

    Firstly slappymcgroundout there you go again, off in a every long rant. I say rant because you make no attempt to argue the point, your post had more to do with a cowardly attack on Richard O’Rawe than trying to disprove what he is claiming.

    I say cowardly because at least Richard O’Rawe and those of us who believe him have the guts to put our names to what we are saying, sure you are even able to address me as Thomas. Thats right Thomas [Dixie] Elliott from Derry. Any coward can spew the nonsense you have spat out in your posts about Richard as long as no one knows who they are.

    Anyway back to what you say. Although your gutless attack doesn’t merit an answer I will anyway to prove you really haven’t a clue about what you are talking about.

    You said…

    “For more of your absurdity, if the Brits make concessions following, everyone and their dogs will understand that end of hunger strike = concessions. Notion of “decent interval” didn’t work for Nixon and Kissinger and it wouldn’t have worked here either.”

    The Hunger Strikes ended because of family intervention on October the 3rd 1981 and on October 6th [3 days later!!] SoS Prior implemented exactly what was on offer from July 5th.

    Now we must believe that the Brits waited until after the By-election which Carron won because the SDLP stood back and gave him a free run and then gave what could have scuttled Carron’s chances had they conceded them earlier because the SDLP would undoubtedly have stood against him.

    We must believe that the Brits gave 4 of the five demands 3 days after the Hunger Strikes ended when by doing so in early July could have ensured that Carron didn’t get the seat.

  • Dixie Elliott

    Pat Mc Larnon, at least you make a challenging argument and that my friend is what this should be really about.

    Firstly do you accept that the document referred to was in the hands of Gerry Adams in Belfast when he got word that the Hunger Strike had just ended?

    It had been flown over by a courier and handed to Fr. Meagher who in turn gave it to Adams. All while the Hunger Strike was still ongoing, therefore the Brits couldn’t have changed the content, which as I pointed out, was Prisoners could wear civilian-type clothing during the working week.

    As you say “Bobby Sands issued a statement that the prisoners would not wear prison-issue clothing nor do prison work.”

    So what was ambiguous? The two main demands weren’t there from the start. In fact Bobby returned to the wing that very night and told us, as I’ve pointed out… “Ní fhuaireomar faic” [We got nothing!!].

    You said…”Bobby then began negotiations with the prison governor, Stanley Hilditch, for a step-by-step de-escalation of the protest. Quoting Bobby again: “The Brits are not going to give us a way out…There is no bend in them and we can’t accept conformity”.

    Exactly. Bobby met Hilditch to try and get something in return for an end to the protest, not try and get a deal they were reneging on. The words ‘The Brits are not going to give us ‘a way out’ are an indicator of this.

    Again to quote you Pat…”I am surprised Richard O’Rawe hasn’t confirmed that Bobby Sands and the outside leadership used the document to try and rescue the situation…”

    Richard O’Rawe never denied this, in fact the argument surrounding the 1st Hunger Strike was always the claims by Adams, Morrison etc that the Brits reneged on a deal/offer after the 1st Hunger Strike. Something which was untrue.

    However Pat, they now like yourself are trying to cover their about turn by claiming it was about ambiguities and not about reneging on any deal or offer.

    There were no ambiguities except in the word ‘civilian-type’ clothing. And in fact the Brits tried to introduce that ‘civilian-type’ clothing and it was thrown back at them by us. Therefore they didn’t renege on even that.

    Pat no matter how you spin it, as can be see from the statements from Adams, Morrison, Laurney etc in the main article it was being claimed that the Brits reneged on a deal after the 1st Hunger Strike, nothing else.

    Why now are we seeing an attempt at tippexing this out?

  • Dixie Elliott

    Oh and Slappywhatsyurname, before you go off on another rant about Richard O’Rawe and Thatcher don’t forget that your party leader Martin recently had breakfast with her party The Tories…

    And before we hear that he was there to oppose cuts, sure he could have done that after a fry in Frankie Ramsey’s in his own UK City of Culture with a few phone calls to the media.

    Then again when he was there why didn’t he mention the fact that the British were spending billions on two corrupt wars in Iraq and Afghanistan while cutting billions from Health, education and benefits etc here in the North of Ireland?

    Hypocrisy like the flu gets passed on from one to the other I suppose?

    In fact why have none of them brought this up?

  • Dixie Elliott

    The last line should read…

    In fact why have none of them brought this up?

    Hypocrisy like the flu gets passed on from one to the other I suppose?

  • Mark

    Are you not up on twitter yet Dixie ?

  • Brian

    The PIRA/SF movement was a morally bankrupt organization in many respects, regardless of the fact that there were courageous and brave people in it. Whatever the truth of the hunger strike was, it couldn’t change either of those facts.

    All those bombers, gunmen, etc in prison should have spent their time realizing that they were in a hopeless struggle that had no chance of success. They could have thought of ways to end the struggle instead of deepening the divide between the communities. Unfortunately near unconditional surrender was too much for their pride to handle, they had to plant many more bombs before they thought they got something they could show and bamboozle their stalwart supporters “look we won!”. Nothing was won. A united Ireland, let alone a socialist one, was not advanced one day sooner. If anything it was made less likely.

    I have never understood what their end game would have been even if their fantastic dreams of victory ever occurred and they had ever managed to get the Brits to leave— there only would have been more violence and bloodshed. Unionists/loyalists weren’t going to disappear.

    It’s sad in a way these former comrades at each other’s throats over the hunger strike. By now they have all realized the cult of gun was futile, harmful, and counterproductive.

    (And I am a nationalist who thinks the PIRA had every right to take up arms initially to bring down Stormont and fight injustice. However, what they got in 98 could have been gotten more or less in the mid 70s.)

  • summerhill

    Can someone help me out here – I read an article recently about John Humes efforts to end the prison protest – John thought he had an agreement with the British Government that allowed the protesting prisoners to wear ‘civilian clothes’ i.e their own clothes ( and enough. according to John, to end the protest) but by the time the document had reached the prisoners this had been changed ( by whom?) to ‘civilian type clothes’ i.e clothes issued by the Prison Authorites – anybody cast any further light on this?

  • slappymcgroundout

    Thomas, let me refresh your recollection, from you on IrishRepublican.net:

    “Exploitation

    Martina talks about exploitation yet she and other members of her party have no problem claiming that IRA Volunteers who died for a 32 County Socialist Republic did so for what is basically a photocopy of the Sunningdale Agreement.

    It might have a new name but it is no different.

    That is the reason I today am totally against the use of armed struggle.

    Attempts to smear those of us who resisted the beatings and everything the prison system threw at us and who watched as our ten comrades walked from the wings for the last time will no longer wash.

    No amount of mud-slinging can bury the truth.”

    And the one soul called you on it:

    “No amount of mud-slinging can bury the truth that the real reason for this public spectacle is
    resentment and nursing grievances over a (false) sense of betrayal, in that the armed struggle did not achieve unity.
    (see above letter 2nd half )

    Pat [as Patrick Henry is your nom de guerre on IR.net] why don’t you make that point alone
    There’s no need to desecrate the memory of those brave men,
    please stop using them as pawns in your game.
    Let them rest in peace for christ’s sake.”

    Then you went on to confirm his point, though you didn’t intend to do so:

    “The main points
    1. 3 days after Micky Devine died SF announced that in future it would contest all Northern Ireland elections…

    This was likely the day of Micky’s burial and when were the grassroot membership given the chance to debate or vote on this decision?”

    So there it is. Your main point isn’t that someone died and was lied to in the process, your main point is that you don’t agree with the switch from blowing things up to electoral politics and you didn’t have a vote. And as you made plain, the reason why you aren’t in the CIRA or the RIRA today isn’t that you don’t believe in the merit of their armed struggle, you’re simply afraid of being “exploited” once again. Did I get that right. Absence of the ? in favor of the . means statement and not a question.

    Next, your whole point over concessions following end of hunger strike rather entirely misses the point. You weren’t striking for concessions. You instead were striking in favor of political status and against criminalization. That was the point of the exercise. The concessions were made to everyone, including the criminal, so you didn’t get “politics”, you got “criminal”. Crime is crime is crime…as illustrated by crime getting the same as you. No one thinks that in granting all murderers the right to wear their own clothes, Prior removed the purported “badge of criminality”. They were still convicted murderers, like some of you were and are convicted murderers as well. No formal recognition was made of your “political status”. No differentiation whatsover was made between you and them.

    To repeat, so it can sink in, you didn’t go on strike to merely improve your condition. You went on strike to separate yourselves from mere murderer and rapist. That isn’t what you got. You got treated just like every other murderer and rapist. In other words, 10 men died so that murderers and rapists could wear their own clothes. That’s the British interpretation of the event. And since murderers and rapists got to wear their own clothes, kinda hard for you to dispute their point. Uniforms, work, whatever, none of that mattered. What you wanted was formal recognition that you weren’t, to borrow from some here who shall remain nameless, a mere “sectarian murder gang”. That appellation was only confirmed by the grant of concessions to all murderers, including the criminal gang, with its own command structure rather similar to yours.

    Lastly, loved your reference to Afghanistan. In light of the same, perhaps you won’t mind if I call you by my new name for you, the Irish Taliban (or does some other Irish person already own the name?). Thomas, as I said early on here, I have no horse in your race. I’ve defended Gerry here in the past in relation to claims made that are defensible. I have never argued, however, that the one soul isn’t correct in signing on as Gerry Loves Castro. That’s a position that Gerry has that I find entirely and utterly repugnant. Leaving all else aside, and there is much else, the main inhabitants of Cuba’s prisons are black Cubans. Fidel & Co make the KKK proud. So if you’re going to speak to human right and anti-racism, at least be consistent and Gerry isn’t. So don’t think that I believe that he’s above criticism, as he isn’t. That said, you can judge for yourself whether O’Rawe is sincere, but he has been quoted as saying:

    I think Gerry Adams is owed a huge debt. I don’t think anyone other than Adams could have brought an end to an unwinnable war and kept republican communities united. But six of my comrades died that should not have, and it’s important the truth comes out warts and all.

    If sincere, what he claims to want to do with “truth” is apparently not what you want to do with “truth”. You weren’t going to win the war military. That would likely have been seen at the outset, except some got swept away in the emotion of the time. The plan from the beginning should have been military action to achieve a political and not military solution. That’s what you ended up with. It was the only practical solution. And for those in the CIRA and RIRA, all that I would say is that they ought stop the lethal Irish tradition of allowing dead Irishmen to kill just that many more of you. It doesn’t matter what Bobby Sands died for. What matters is, which is the best way forward for the Irish today. And if turns out that this way works out best for Irish standard of living, then you can tell Bobby when you visit his grave that he has his revenge, the laughter of your children. To borrow from the one soul at the one Ard Fheis, the laughter of your children is the principle, all else is tactic.

  • Pat Mc Larnon

    Dixie,

    I would take issue with you that this is some sort of argument, it is not. You also admonish Slappy for not going into substantive issues and accuse him of ranting while at the same time you accuse me of trying to ‘spin’ and ‘cover’.

    Anyway, what is clear is that the events of the 18th December unfolded very quickly and that it was a very fluid situation. It is also clear that the leadership in the Blocks but especially those on the outside were facing a profound and immediate problem in trying to rescue a sustainable position from the jaws of outright defeat.

    It is true that Fr Meagher had delivered the document to leadership figures on the outside before taking it into the Blocks. Here is what Fr Meagher said of the events at that time.

    The document was being analysed [by republicans on the outside] and was being highly criticised when [I] took a phone call from the chaplain in Long Kesh, Fr. Toner, who informed [me] that the hunger strike had ended.

    ‘Now the document was the only available exit from an embarrassing situation and it would be submitted, though with misgivings, to the strikers and to the world as sufficient reason for the ending of a strike that had, in fact, already fragmented.”

    This supports the narrative already given by Bobby, Danny Morrison and Richard O’Rawe.

    Fr Meagher further stated that he went to the Blocks and watched,
    “‘Bobby and the Dark, in a tangled discussion, considered the two page ‘solution’.

    ‘“It’s full of holes, it won’t work”.

    ‘“Let’s give it a run and if it fails we will set out on a second hunger strike”.

    ‘“Okay, let’s give it a try”. ‘

    Meagher says that Bobby said: “They will never give in ‘til coffins come out of here and I will be in the first one.”

    ‘So the first hunger strike ended and there came a short period of respite.’

    Meagher was chosen as a ‘guarantor’ in a step-by-step approach to the implementation of the British ‘solution’ to the prisoners’ demands. He was constantly in and out of the Kesh, meeting with Bobby, Bik, the governor Hilditch, the Northern Ireland Office and with Sinn Fein.

    What is agreed by all sides is that Bobby tried to work on the ambiguities of the document supplied by the British to Fr Meagher.

    Fr Meagher goes on, ‘The adherence to a step-by-step resolution of the demands was never going to happen once the implementation of the steps was left in the hands of the Governor and the prison staff. The reconciliation process soon faltered and then stopped and a second hunger strike was announced to be led by Bobby Sands.’

    The most important point is that Bobby, the IRA staff in the prison and the leadership on the outside were at one. According to Fr Meagher, the British contact had told him: ‘There would be a genuine response from the British government to the “five demands”.’

    Thus, given what happened after the ending of the first hunger striker, it is clearly the case that the British RENEGED on the promise of implementing a progressive liberal regime!

  • Rusty Nail

    I see Pat’s been sent in to clean up Danny’s mess. Sleight of hand won’t rectify this, nor will shouting “Bobby!” or “Brendan!” in the hope that blaming everything on dead men will get the leadership a free pass. The most important point is, Danny has started telling some truths – which he should be commended for.

    The sleight of hand being applied here by Pat is shifting the timing of when the British “reneged”. But Danny has throughly exploded that myth. No amount of backspin now can save it.

    There was no deal, no offer, no promises. “We got nothing,” Brendan Hughes said, “‘Ní fhuaireomar faic”, as Bobby Sands put it. Brendan called the strike off to save Sean McKenna’s life, with no thought to any promise, deal or document. It was done.

    Bobby knew immediately there would be a second hunger strike.

    He was also angry at reports that Sinn Fein was spinning the end of the hunger strike as a victory, unhappy with “a buoyant Danny Morrison”, saying he had a “brass neck”.

    Danny Morrison now eloquently describes what was on offer from the British at that time: unsecured promises. The first word negates the second. In other words, absolutely nothing.

    But face had to be saved, and momentum towards the second hunger strike had to be built. So in this, Pat’s important point is correct – Bobby, the prison leadership and the leadership on the outside all eventually agreed to present a united front, to put pressure on the British, to give cover to the claim that the British had reneged. But they all knew that was a fig leaf designed to spare their own blushes. The British had reneged on nothing, as there was nothing there to renege on.

    And Danny now admits the truth of it in his Andersonstown News article.

    “We on the outside finessed the sequence of events for the sake of morale”

    “At a midnight press conference [we] merged the secret arrival of a British government document (promising a more enlightened prison regime: falsely, as it turned out) with the ending of the hunger strike”

    “It was either that or admit – which to the republican base was inconceivable – that Brendan had ended the strike without getting a thing.”

    “Bobby – who turned out to be right – did not believe the British had any intention of working the unsecured promises contained in the document. But we begged him to put them to the test and that if the administration made things impossible then it could be claimed that the Brits were reneging.”

    The importance of all this is that it is the first time Danny Morrison has admitted it.

    The fiction that there was a deal that the British reneged on underpinned Morrison’s, and those who carried the can for him, claims about the handling of the second hunger strike. He’s now exploded that myth and with it the legs out from under him when his argument attempts to stand against O’Rawe’s.

    By the time of the July, 1981 offer from Thatcher, things had radically changed from where they stood in December, 1980. Not least was the amount of people who had already died on hunger strike, and those who were poised to. In addition to that, Thatcher was dealing directly with the IRA through Adams and his cadre. The prisoners all knew the truth of how the first hunger strike had ended, and they knew too the fiction of the document they pretended to work, the happy face they were forced to put on. Did Danny and company decide a second time to “finesse” the situation, for the sake of appearances?

  • Pat Mc Larnon

    Rusty I have no more been sent on to clear anything up than you are being worked from the back to fulfill some agenda and who would think such a thing?

    As for the use of the names of ‘Bobby’ and ‘Brendan’ they are direct quotes for Fr Meagher at the time. Are you accusing Fr Meagher of lying in his accounts of the Hughes and Sands discussion?

    It is agreed there was no deal, if you read the quotes of Fr Meagher (reprinted again)

    ‘Now the document was the only available exit from an embarrassing situation and it would be submitted, though with misgivings, to the strikers and to the world as sufficient reason for the ending of a strike that had, in fact, already fragmented.”

    There was no deal but there was the document that had been passed to Fr Meagher and there was the pledge given by the British Government contact that ‘There would be a genuine response from the British government to the “five demands”.

    It is in those circumstances that Bobby Sands tried to flesh out, with Fr Meagher acting as guarantor, what was in the document. Again as Father Meagher pointed out this approach was frustrated by the governor and prison staff at that time.
    It is that salient point that needs to be taken on board here. That any future deal should not have rested solely on words or guarantees or indeed be left to local officials to impliment.

    The shock here, pushed by the likes of yourself and Clarke, is that we are all supposed to be shocked that the leadership inside and outside the Kesh tried to make the most out of a disastrous set of circumstances in order to shore up morale.

  • Mr Crowley

    What book are you quoting from Pat?

  • Dixie Elliott

    Pat I take it you are quoting from Denis O’Hearn’s book? Fair enough but you omitted to refer to what Fr Meagher said about in the most important line in the British document. See age 302…

    “The prisoners would have to wear prison-issue clothing during week-days, when they were engaged in prison work.
    This clearly failed to meet their bottom line. As far as he [Bobby] was concerned, the document was severely lacking in it’s provisions on clothes, work, and association, the three most important of their five demands.”

    You also said…

    “What is agreed by all sides is that Bobby tried to work on the ambiguities of the document supplied by the British to Fr Meagher.”

    But Seanna Walsh didn’t agree. On page 304 Seanna is quoted…

    “Seanna Walsh, OC of H4, did not believe any of this positive spin. He could tell from Bobby’s demeanor that there was little hope of getting anything from the document. He expected that Bobby’s appeals to the governor would fall on deaf ears.”

    To quote you again Pat…

    “Thus, given what happened after the ending of the first hunger striker, it is clearly the case that the British RENEGED on the promise of implementing a progressive liberal regime!”

    Where was the ‘promised progressive liberal regime’ when it didn’t even meet ‘the three most important of their five demands?’

    Tell me Pat if it did not meet even these three demands what else did they offer which was progressive or liberal as conforming prisoners already had what was on offer?

    You see what is happening here is clearly spin, trying to find something to cover the nakedness of earlier statements from Danny, Adams etc.

    By July 5th 1981 the British were offering 4 of the 5 demands. Not prison-issue or civilian-type clothing to wear during work-days. A massive step forward which had cost by then 4 lives. These deaths had effectively smashed criminalisation in the eyes of the world. It saw the election of Bobby, Big Doc, and Paddy Agnew with other close calls.

    This was nothing like the pressure brought to bear on the Brits by December 18th.

  • Dixie Elliott

    Taken from an article by Jim Gibney for Bobby’s 50th Birthday…

    The point is…..Why would Bobby Sands be writing a comm on the night the first Hunger Strike collapsed about going on another Hunger Strike if there was an alleged deal or if he thought there was ambiguities that could be worked out or overcome?

    Danny Morrison appeared on RTE, the same day Jim received this comm, saying that Bobby was ‘’jubilant.’’

    “Bobby at 50 – BY JIM GIBNEY
    Irish Republican Media 10/03/04

    It was 18 December 1980. It was late afternoon.

    The phone rang in the Mountjoy Square office of the H-Block/Armagh Committee. It was Gerry Adams. In a hushed but firm voice he told me to ring him from a pay phone in the street. I did.

    “The hunger strike is over. Can you come back to Belfast?” he said. The news shocked me. I had been in Dublin for several months building support for the Hunger Strike and now it was suddenly over. Over without prior warning.

    I was at a loss as to what to do, what to say. But I knew it would soon be on the radio and TV news and the people in the H-Block/Armagh office had to hear it from me before they heard it over the airwaves.

    We gathered around the office in a sombre mood. These were the people who had campaigned tirelessly, who had helped to build a national movement to support the prisoners’ cause over the previous two or three years.

    I told them what Gerry told me. There was a mixture of disbelief that the Hunger Strike was over and relief that no one had died; people had tears in their eyes.

    Five years of campaigning, six weeks of a Hunger Strike… now ended, confusion reigned.

    The following day back in Belfast, I met Gerry in a house in Clonard owned by lifelong republican Alfie Hannaway.

    I was shown a comm written by Bobby Sands that had come out of the prison the previous day. The following sentence stuck out: “I will begin another hunger strike on the 1st January.”

    “What? We can’t go through that again,” I blurted out.

    And that was the sentiment, obviously more considered, that I was to tell Bobby the following day. A visit had been arranged for me with him.

    Danny Morrison who had been the outside contact for the prisoners during the Hunger Strike had been banned from the jail a few days previously by the British Government and I had been selected to replace him.

    I waited in the visiting area for Bobby not knowing what to expect. I hadn’t seen him since we were both in the Crumlin Road Jail three years previously.

    He literally bounced towards me with a smile on his face and his hand stretched out. I hadn’t seen him coming into the visiting area.

    He looked tired, his eyes were red rimmed and the years of brutality were obvious in his gaunt features and bedraggled long hair and beard.

    With two prison warders hanging over his shoulders, we engaged in an intense conversation.

    He was adamant that another hunger strike should begin on the 1 January and that he would lead it. He had others lined up to join him.

    I put the leadership’s views and he listened carefully, shaking his head in disagreement occasionally. Time up, we embraced and parted company. He was to consider what I said, consult with others inside and communicate the views to the leadership outside as soon as possible.

    The next time I saw Bobby he was on hunger strike. I would see him several times before he died….”

  • Dixie Elliott

    Slappy over on Ir.net I do use the name Patrick Henry but as you are well aware I announced to the whole forum last year that my name was Thomas [Dixie] Elliott because I would not hide behind a false name and support Richard O’Rawe in my belief that he was right.

    In fact several posters there refer to me as Dixie which normally results in a ban [identifying a poster]. This however doesn’t now include referring to my true name and being a poster there, well you know that…

    The rest of your post isn’t worth the time Slappy.

  • Dixie Elliott

    Pat I rechecked your quotes from Fr. Meagher in Denis O’Hearns book and they don’t actually come from there.

    Do you mind if I ask where you got them from?

  • Brian

    When Brendan called off the strike did he know that republicans on the outside were looking at a document the Brits had given them via Meagher? Or did he find out afterwards and the two were merged and represented as being connected for the public’s eye?

    Or, did he know there was some kind of vague offer and decided to save Sean’s life hoping against hope that the offer would be sufficient?

  • Mark

    I’ve been thinking that aswell Brian . All deals start off verbally , then you negotiate, you try to get what you what you can. Then when you think you have an agreement , you put it down on paper .

    It’s not beyond the realms of possibility that what was agreed verbally on a friday , was’nt down in black and white on the sunday .

  • Mark

    Typo ,

    All deals start off verbally , then you negotiate , you try to get what you can .

  • Rusty Nail

    Mark and Brian,

    This has been previously discussed in detail on Slugger, comments 20 & 21. It is also archived on the longkesh.info site.

    To wit:

    “If you take a look at page 299 of Denis O’Hearn’s biography of Bobby Sands, Nothing But an Unfinished Song:

    “The movement had sent comms to let him (Sands) know that the British government was sending a courier with a document that might be a solution. But Bobby never got the comms until the next day because “the lad had to swallow them”. It would not have made any difference because the authorities refused to let Sands go to the hospital, where the drama of the negotiations and pressures on Brendan Hughes was unfolding…”

    “The next thing he knew, he was taken to the prison hospital at 6:45 in the evening. What he found there shocked him.

    I saw Index (Father Toner) and Silvertop (Father Murphy) in the corridor as I walked down the wing. There were three cartons of eggs sitting in a doorway. My heart jumped. Dorcha (Brendan Hughes) came out of Tommy McKearney’s room and went into Tom (McFeeley)’s room in front of me. Tom was in bed. Raymond and Nixie were sitting beside the bed. They were all shattered. Dorcha said, “Did you hear the sceal (news)?” I said, “No.” He said it again. I thought Sean was dead. Then he said, “We’ve got nothing, I called it off.” The MO was banging an injection into Tommy. Sean was en route to the hospital. Tom had been against it, wanting to wait to see what Atkins was going to say in the Commons. Dorcha was under the impression that Sean had only twelve hours to live.”

    And also look Adams’ description of the end of the first hunger strike as he writes of it in A Farther Shore, pages 12-13:

    But with the commencement of the hunger strike, the British government opened up contact with republicans. Through this contact in the British Foreign Office – code-named “Mountain Climber” – a channel of communication which had been used during the 1974 IRA-British government truce was reactivated. Father Reid’s role had been filled by another Redemptorist priest, Father Brendan Meagher. The British said they wanted a settlement of the issues underpinning the protest and committed to setting out the details in a document to be presented to all of the prisoners formally and publicly after they came off their hunger strike.

    Mountain Climber brought the document to Father Meagher, who delivered it to Clonard Monastery where I and a few people who were assisting the prisoners were waiting for him. As he was briefing us, Tom Hartley, the head of our POW department, burst into the room where we were meeting to tell us the hunger strike was over in the blocks.”

    See also pages 108-109 of Richard O’Rawe’s Blanketmen:

    By 18 December the hunger strikers had not eaten for over seven weeks. Bobby was summoned to the camp hospital about ten o’clock that night. (We later found out that while there, he had met Father Meagher, who presented him with a document from the British government on prison procedures.) You could feel the tension on the wing as Bobby got ready to leave for the hospital. Everyone knew this was an important meeting, because reports had been circulating that Sean McKenna was in a critical condition. After an hour and a half, Bobby returned with the news that the hunger strike was over. My immediate reaction was one of huge relief, but this was tempered when Bobby said, “Ní fhuaireamar faic.” (‘We didn’t get anything.’)

    Brendan Hughes had made a commitment to Sean McKenna that he would not let him die, and when he was close to death, he kept his word and called the strike off, before any British documents came in or any deal could be done.

    As he wrote in a letter to the Irish News, 13 July 2006, “Risking the lives of volunteers is not the IRA way”:

    In a recent BBC documentary Bernadette McAliskey said she would have let Sean McKenna die during the 1980 hunger strike in order to outmanoeuvre British brinkmanship.
    Implicit in her comments was a criticism of those senior republicans who decided against pursuing the option favoured by Bernadette.
    As the IRA leader in charge of that Hunger Strike I had given Sean McKenna a guarantee that were he to lapse into a coma I would not permit him to die.
    When the awful moment arrived I kept my word to him.
    Having made that promise, to renege on it once Sean had reached a point where he was no longer capable of making a decision for himself, I would have been guilty of his murder.
    Whatever the strategic merits of Bernadette’s favoured option, they are vastly outweighed by ethical considerations.
    Terrible things happen in the course of any war and those of us who feel obliged to fight wars must take responsibility for the terrible consequences of actions we initiate.
    I can live with that – in war we kill enemies and expect to be killed by them.
    I can stand over the military decisions I made during our war against the British.
    But there are no circumstances in which I was prepared to make a cynical decision that would have manipulated events to the point where a republican comrade would forfeit his life.
    Twenty-five years on, I have no reason to change my mind that the decision I made to save the life of Sean McKenna was the proper one.
    Faced with similar circumstances I would do the same again.
    History may judge my actions differently but preventing Sean McKenna from becoming history rather than my own place in history was my prevailing concern.
    Brendan Hughes, Belfast.

    At the meeting in Derry, this was discussed and former blanketmen Gerard Hodgins, Tommy Gorman, Dixie Elliott and Gerard Clarke, and Richard O’Rawe, were all very clear that there was no deal for the British to renege on, and that those inside the prison at the time knew this. They had decided to save face, however, and claim that was what ended the hunger strike in order to keep the pressure on the British. This discussion should be available in the You Tube videos and when I have time I will find it for you later, if you have not already viewed them.

    So the idea that the rejection of the British offer in July during the second hunger strike was based on the prisoners’ fear of the British ‘dirty joeing’ them again is a nonsense. The Brits could not renege on a deal that had not been struck. It is propaganda, nothing more.”

  • Mark

    Rusty ,

    Thanks for your non – confrontational response . I wish the rest of the Tag Team could follow suit ( haha ) .

    Let me come to you. Thanks

  • Mark

    I just don’t buy it Rusty . These men were practically all the same age , knew eachother well , they all had a cause to believe in and the thought that a handfull would just turn on the rest . It’s very hard to believe .

  • Pat Mc Larnon

    Dixie,

    it seems we are agreed that what was contained in the British Government document was so far off the wall in terms of what the prisoners wanted that it was worse than useless.

    The real politik of the situation was that the first hunger strike collapsed with nothing at all achieved. That fact was recognised by Bobby Sands and that was why he wanted to begin a new hunger strike almost immediately.

    It is here that your quotation from Jim Gibney is most relevant,

    ‘Five years of campaigning, six weeks of a Hunger Strike… now ended, confusion reigned.’

    The momentum in support built up during the Hunger Strike was in danger of dissipating on the back of a comprehensive defeat. That then begs the question of how to maintain some sort of momentum and support? In that respect trying to resurrect the Hunger Strike campaign on January 1st would have been a virtually impossible task given the confusion that reigned post 18th December.

    Bobby Sands was adamant that a second Hunger Strike campaign was to take place. It is logical, from a campaign point of view that the second hunger strike should be launched against a back drop of British bad faith.

    Unfortunately the only thing that the campaign had to work with was the British Government document and the verbal commitment from the British to work on the five demands to impliment a liberal prison regime.

    It is clear from the testimony of Fr Meagher that when left to their own devices the governor and prison regime blocked any attempt by Booby Sands to flesh out what was in the document.
    However, your spin on what Seanna Walsh believed (rightly) that the appeals to the governor would fall on deaf ears does not negate the fact that Bobby Sands attempted to use the ambiguities in the document to test the good faith of the British.
    Walsh and Sands believed that the initiative would fail. In order to create the circumstances to justify the second Hunger Strike it had to be seen to fail.

  • Pat Mc Larnon

    Dixie,

    summaries in ‘Nothing But An Unfinished Song’ by Denis O’Hearn and direct quotes from Fr Brendan Meagher who wrote a chapter for ‘Hunger Strike’, a book of essays published by the Bobby Sands Trust in 2006 on the 25th anniversary.

  • Dixie Elliott

    Pat you said:

    “Dixie,
    it seems we are agreed that what was contained in the British Government document was so far off the wall in terms of what the prisoners wanted that it was worse than useless.”

    Exactly therefore there was nothing to renege on. That was our point all along Pat.

    I disagree with you on Jim Gibney’s article.

    The quotation most relevant was that Bobby had wrote a comm on the 18th of December the night the Hunger Strike ended saying, “I will begin another hunger strike on the 1st January.”
    Obviously he saw then, that very night, that there was little hope of getting anything, therefore he realised that the Brits had given nothing to renege on otherwise he would have waited to see what could be gained.

    Again you said:

    “However, your spin on what Seanna Walsh believed (rightly) that the appeals to the governor would fall on deaf ears does not negate the fact that Bobby Sands attempted to use the ambiguities in the document to test the good faith of the British.”

    What spin Pat?

    “He [Seanna] could tell from Bobby’s demeanor that there was little hope of getting anything from the document.”

    Pat you have to agree therefore that the Brits didn’t renege on a deal/offer during the 1st Hunger Strike?

    In regards ambiguities in the document. If the document, to quote Fr Meagher, “clearly failed to meet their bottom line.” then what was ambiguous about it? You must point this out.