“and ‘Soon’ would have known this”

Perhaps the most interesting [and least covered? – Ed] response to the release of UK National Archive files from 1981 was that of the Sinn Féin president, Gerry Adams, TD.  An edited version of his blog post appeared at the Guardian.

The interesting part is not his declaration of “Another myth busted”.  That particular “war of words”, as Brian Rowan says, “will go on”.

The interest is in Adams’ calling into question “the relationship between London and ‘Soon’” – Londonderry businessman Brendan Duddy – and in the process, calling into question Duddy’s reliability as a witness.

The Sinn Féin president lists a number of remarks – attributed in the released documents to Brendan Duddy as ‘Soon’ – which he claims are “not true”.  And, in one instance, Adams adds that “‘Soon’ would have known this”.

A particular sore point appears to be the descriptions of “a great deal of confusion [] in Provisional circles”, of “the Provisionals disorganised position”, and of “an angry and hostile meeting of the Provisionals almost verging on a complete breakdown”.

As John Bew and Deaglán de Breadún reported in the Irish Times

The papers, in the British national archives, create a picture of confusion in the Provisional IRA leadership at a critical stage of the prison fast, with “every type of neurosis imaginable surfacing”, just when a compromise seemed imminent. [added emphasis]

The documents confirm Mrs Thatcher approved a message to the IRA leadership, after four of the 10 hunger-strike deaths had occurred, which laid out the concessions the British were prepared to make. Contrary to British expectations, the Provisionals rejected this offer, although the latter suggested the objection was to the “tone” not substance.

The problem for Adams’ newly expressed scepticism of the ‘back-channel’ is that Brendan Duddy has been “The Contact” between the Provisional IRA leadership and MI6 since the early 1970s.  And as recently as 2009 Martin McGuinness was describing Duddy as “an honourable man”.

Another point to note, as he acknowledges in his post, is that Gerry Adams had a central role in “who said what”

I chaired the Sinn Féin committee responsible for handling the prison struggle, contacts with the prisoners, with the British and anyone else.

And as Ed Moloney recalls

By the time of the 1981 hunger strikes I was well travelled along an increasingly jaundiced learning curve about the Provos and their West Belfast leadership and had learned a number of things, mostly the hard way: they had a very slick propaganda department with Danny Morrison at the core of it; you would be foolish to automatically believe everything he or his minions said; more often than not, they lied like troopers and they could be very vindictive if you crossed them.

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  • cynic2

    Soon was clearly unreliable – at least as a Stooge for Gerry and the Seven Dwarves.

    But pray tell me. Why was Gerry Chairing that Committee, After all, he was never in the IRA!

  • Decimus

    It looks very like Adams is seeking out a Patsy to divert the blame onto and Duddy has been chosen.

    Why though would Sinn Fein be holding committees deciding what the hunger strikers should do? Surely they were subordinate to the IRA and it would have been the IRA dealing with this issue. The hunger strikers were IRA after all.

    Adams is finding out that in order to maintain a lie you have to keep lying. At this stage of his badly led life he has become a ridiculous figure.

  • ranger1640

    Gerry Adams is the new Walter Mitty! With Duddy his fall guy!

  • Los Lobos

    The tensof thousands of people who vote SF at every election won’t be too worried about what Gerry Adams did or did not do during the hunger strike all those years ago. Adams knows this, he also knows that all he has to do is keep saying that he has worked tirelessly to bring about peace in Ireland! Whatever it is about Irish people they seem to feel the need to erase anything in their “political memory” that doesn’t gel with their current world view, Fianna Fail voters are a classic example as are DUP voters. That philisophy was working until the wheels came of the economy, now the effects of “buying off” politicians is hitting the pockets of the rich and poor! Time for a new narrative, one that doesn’t mean paying vast sums of taxpayers money to keep “wannabe politicians” in a well paid job.

  • Decimus

    Los Lobos,

    You are absolutely correct about that. The bulk of the drones already have the hunger strike narrative (it was all Maggie’s fault) firmly embedded in their heads. The facts won’t get in the way of the myth.

    However the intelligent ones amongst them may start to see Adams and co in a different light.

  • michael-mcivor


    Thatcher give up and give the prisoners their demands- it took 10 deaths inside the H-blocks but that was the reasons why those who went on hunger strike put there names forward-to get the 5 demands-which were got-

  • Decimus


    Maggie was offering those things after the third one died. Your leadership turned them down because they want the strike to go on so that they could get Owen carron elected. If you are happy about that then fair enough, but don’t be blaming Maggie for the deaths after number three. You need to look closer to home.

    And they never did get political status.

  • michael-mcivor


    ” Maggie was offering those things after the third one died ”

    So now the offer was made after the third one died- this story changes each day-

    ” And they never did get political status ”

    But the prisoners did get the 5 demands- which is what the hunger strike was for-

  • Decimus


    The third one or whatever. Most people don’t really give a shit, but it is clearly of huge importance to the followers of the death cult that is Irish republicanism.

    They got to wear their own shell suits so it was all okay then. The point is that they could have worn their own shell suits before six of them died, but the leadership let them die anyway.

  • sonofstrongbow

    To be honest this whole “hunger strike” flip-flopping by Sinn Fein leaves me cold. I would not have been concerned if everyone of the ‘men behind the wire’ had chosen suicide as their get out of jail card. I do lament the innocents who died on the outside as the shinner murder gang ramped up the violence on support of the ‘boys’.

    What is interesting is the shinner response (including the wider dronedom) to the released papers. An aspect of Geroid’s response is his questioning the veracity of the papers themselves.

    Brendan Duddy’s fate does not bother me, if you sup with the shinner devil and all that, but it does give a flavour of the squabbling that any ‘truth recovery’ process would engender.

    The shinners have their own peculiar view of the past, that has, as already noted, been bought into by their voters. No amount of evidence is going to move them from their position.

  • ranger1640

    It is up to the SDLP to hammer home the fact that Sinn Fein especially Adams, McGuinness and Morrison, can’t get their stories or time lines straight.

    As for the republican brain washed. They will only see through Sinn Fein and the 3 amigos, when they grow up and start thinking for themselves. By then, it will be too late. As they will find, that the shinner project is only set to ensure they (shinners) are the ones to be looked after with republican nepotism.

  • Decimus


    I wouldn’t expect too much from the SDLP. They stood aside in 81 and let Carron get elected. People should remember things like that when the SDLP are pontificating about how clean their hands are.

  • Terry B

    Adams has also claimed that he was taking to British representatives by phone when the line was cut off. He stated that he later learned that Joe McDonnell had died. Was there another back channel? Duddy is on public record as to having never spoken to Adams during this period. Strange that no British papers have been released covering this particular claim.

    I suspect that these newly released papers was a godsend to the Adams committee, despite their cherry-picking(true, not true, myth busted) as it provides a perfect patsy in Duddy so that they can conviently dismiss Duddy’s notes recently archived in Galway contradicting the Morrison narrative.

  • iluvni

    For how many more years is this tedious bearded spoofer going to be indulged?

  • michael-mcivor


    ” i wouldn’t expect to much from the SDLP.they stood aside in 81 and let Carron be elected-

    The d.u.p stood aside in those 81 elections also- they were
    to scared to go against Bobby Sands in his election

  • Decimus

    Adams has also claimed that he was taking to British representatives by phone when the line was cut off. He stated that he later learned that Joe McDonnell had died. Was there another back channel?

    Terry B,

    If Adams was talking to British representatives then that other back channel would have been himself. I see the Chief of the General Staff himself wanted him arrested and charged that year, but strangely it didn’t happen. I wonder what he was told?


  • Decimus


    I can see that politics is not a strong point with you.

  • keano10

    An entire thread full of comments from the same person. (Michael excepted). The level of multiple identities on Slugger reaches a new low…

  • Dixie Elliott

    While McGuinness had described Brendan Duddy as being a honourable man in 2009. Fellow SF member Jim Gibney went further and dedicated a full article in praise of his “discretion, dependability and trustworthiness.”

    Secret go-between shines a light on history makers

    By Jim Gibney, The Thursday Column (Irish News)

    The names most publicly associated with the Irish peace process are Gerry Adams, Martin McGuinness, John Hume, Albert Reynolds, Bertie Ahern, Fr Alex Reid, David Trimble,

    Ian Paisley, Tony Blair and Bill Clinton.

    The one name which does not readily come to mind is that of Derry man Brendan Duddy.

    Yet Brendan Duddy, now 73 years old, is slowly emerging as another important name to add to that list from a period in time when the armed conflict here was at its bleakest.


    At first glance Brendan Duddy strikes you as a most unlikely person to perform the role of a go-between, which survived three British prime ministers – including Margaret Thatcher – and the various leadership changes within the IRA.

    He is diminutive in stature, soft spoken and unassuming – not the sort of person to inhabit a world where spies from MI6 or MI5 knock on your door, metaphorically speaking, with a request that you contact the IRA leadership on behalf of their masters, the British government.

    But on reflection Duddy is precisely the type of person to fulfil that role because he has the qualities required – discretion, dependability and trustworthiness.

    Duddy, known to both sides as the ‘Mountain Climber’ (because he ran up and down mountains near his home to keep fit), knew and spoke with leading republicans such as Seamus Twomey, Ruairi O’Bradaigh, Dave O’Connell and Martin McGuinness over a 25-year period.

    He did so after receiving occasional requests from a range of British intelligence operatives like Michael Oatley and his successors. These men he described as “servants” of the British government.


    He accused the Tories of trying to destroy the early moves towards peace when they claimed that Martin McGuinness had sent a message asking for help to end the war.

    He said Martin McGuinness was “psychologically incapable” of such a suggestion.

    It was a fascinating discussion and in time the people of this country will rightly see Brendan Duddy as a ‘servant of peace’.

    Sourced from the Irish News


  • Mary Anna

    servent of peace

  • 241934 john brennan

    It was out of Bobby Sands’ feeling of betrayal that the second hunger strike was born on 1 March 1981. (The first hunger strike was not supported by Provisional leaders outside the prison – who conspired with NIO to hoodwink the first hunger strikers). The second hunger strike led to the futile deaths of 10 prisoners. Outside the prison an explosion of sectarian violence resulted in 50 more deaths. Recruiting and funding for the IRA greatly increased. That hunger strike ended when next-of-kin, assisted by Monsignor Faul, assumed power of attorney after prisoners went into coma. Thus relatives, not provisional leaders, rightfully made the life or death decisions.

    The SDLP had little option but to stand aside from the April 1981 Fermanagh by-election, which Sands won. Even Monsignor Denis Faul (referred to by Sinn Fein as ‘that f***er Faul’) said he voted for him, as did SDLP supporters, because they all saw it as single issue matter – save life. But when Sands died and proxy hunger striker, Owen Carron, visited the prison with Gerry Adams, Faul became convinced that Adams was only using the hunger strikers to gain political advantage. It was then that Faull went directly to their relatives. The relatives chose life and authorized medics to intravenously fed the comatose prisoners – and the hunger strike collapsed

  • Pat Mc Larnon

    In terms of the claim Martin Mc Guinness asked the British to help bring about an end to violence, as pointed out here http://eamonnmallie.com/2012/01/codewords-code-names-and-cracks-in-the-channel-by-brian-rowan/ it is Denis Bradley who admits passing on the message that was actually a figment of his own imagination.

    The linked piece does point up the dangers of using such intermediaries and how they cease being message carriers and see themselves as actual players.

  • Dixie Elliott

    Pat as I pointed out earlier it is now the turn of Duddy to be dragged through the muck despite the praise heaped upon him by both Gibney and McGuinness in the recent past.

    Now he is the villian in the piece ffs!

  • Pat Mc Larnon

    There are recent disclosures that he operated a series of coded signals with the British and that he encouraged them to adopt a hardline.
    Asking what exactly was going on and why exactly he was behaving as he did is not dragging anyone through the muck.

    He was, as you like pointing out and quoting, a central character. New revelations throw a whole new light on his role. It could of course be totally innocent, but an explanation from him would shed light on the issue.

    I find it strange that you wish to hold people to account on every single sentence they have issued on this subject yet are hinting that Duddy should have a by ball. But then again you and others have invested so much in his roll at that time.

  • Dixie Elliott

    Pat I’m only saying that it’s not surprising Duddy is being back stabbed by his former admirers on the basis of one phone call in a document Adams spent most of his blog tearing apart.

    Thats how they work….

    Also if Duddy is iffy then it beggars the question; how did the various leaderships of PIRA put such faith in him since the early 70s until recent years?

    What would your opinion be on that Pat? Was he in fact capable of hoodwinking PIRA for all that time?

  • Jimmy Sands

    I missed this. Why is Duddy an unperson now?

  • Pat Mc Larnon

    My opinion is quite straight forward. He has emerged as a central character to the narrative of the hunger strike and other events.

    It has now emerged that he was given a series of coded signals by the British, that he operated and that he also encouraged them to adopt a hardline.

    In light of those revelations he should seek to clarify his position as their is no mention of this behaviour in the papers he lodged with Galway University.

  • Decimus

    I missed this. Why is Duddy an unperson now?


    It would appear that a fall guy was required and he fits the bill.

  • Decimus

    In terms of the claim Martin Mc Guinness asked the British to help bring about an end to violence, as pointed out here http://eamonnmallie.com/2012/01/codewords-code-names-and-cracks-in-the-channel-by-brian-rowan/ it is Denis Bradley who admits passing on the message that was actually a figment of his own imagination.

    First Phoenix and now Rowan. The plot thickens. I had noted that recently the Barney chap has been pushing out stuff about the ‘dark side’ etc. Backing up that uber drone Kearney.

  • Dixie Elliott

    Pat you didn’t answer my question in regards PRM’s faith in him since the early 70s…

    Of course you didn’t, which is not surprising.

  • Jimmy Sands


    Thanks. However this can’t be evidence against Duddy as I have been informed on another thread that you can’t rely on the 30 year files as the brits even forged their own confidential files as they did with regard to the McCreesh family.

  • Decimus


    Thanks. However this can’t be evidence against Duddy as I have been informed on another thread that you can’t rely on the 30 year files as the brits even forged their own confidential files as they did with regard to the McCreesh family.


  • Eire32

    A Unionist ****fest if ever I seen one!

    Must be brutal, being so extremely jealous of the thing you hate the must. Reading some of these comments, you would think no one in the Unionist/British side ever caused, carried out or SUPPORTED any violence whatsoever..

    The UDA/UFF possibly had up to 40,000 members. No support – Aye right.

  • Dixie Elliott

    In an interview with Barney Rowan at Belfast Feile Brendan Duddy said “that although a document didn’t exist the RM had the detail of an offer, theres no argument about that. And at that particular point that offer was available to go into the prison and..and whatever.
    And what was not available at that time was the document.”

    When Rowan asked him did he ‘scribble’ the offer, Duddy replied that he wrote it very carefully.

    Earlier Rowan had said to Duddy..’I think you’re sort of test which is to get someone into the prison on the Sunday?

    Duddy took a drink of water and pointed to Danny Morrison in the audience and replied…’Him!’

    Duddy went on to say “that the person he wanted to get in with respect to you, Mr Morrison was Gerry Adams and they said..’No way is Adams going in. Right!
    And [he pointed at Danny] so do not be offended, you were second choice.

    So I considered a positive way forward to get Danny Morrison in and I was also totally happy that you were well aware of what was being said and what was on offer, so forth. So getting Danny Morrison in was, in my book, a major, major, step forward.

    He went on to say at that particular point of time the real difficulty was that this [meaning a document] particular written piece of paper…[he didn’t finish]

    He then said he would like to know when the British deposited it.

    So Danny sat and listened while Duddy said that he had an offer of which he was well aware what was being said and what was on offer to take into the prison.

    Danny Morrison said on a Talk Back debate:

    ‘he explained to them [the hunger strikers] what was on offer’, adding ‘by the way, the offer that we were being offered through the Mountain Climber was a bigger and better offer than what the ICJP thought they had.’ He went on: ‘After I had seen the hunger strikers, we all agreed that this [the M/C offer] could be a resolution, but we wanted it guaranteed.’

  • Dixie Elliott

    And in the article I posted above from Jim Gibney which he wrote about the Rowan/Duddy discussion, without mentioning the part about the Hunger Strike offer, he said about Brendan Duddy…

    “Brendan Duddy was speaking at Belfast’s Féile an Phobail’s first of many debates. The event, ‘The Secret Peacemaker’ is an apt description of a man who kept his counsel about his role as a conduit between the British government and the leadership of the IRA and Sinn Fein for more than 20 years until he thought it appropriate to speak.”


    “But on reflection Duddy is precisely the type of person to fulfil that role because he has the qualities required – discretion, dependability and trustworthiness.”


    “It was a fascinating discussion and in time the people of this country will rightly see Brendan Duddy as a ‘servant of peace’. ”


  • Munsterview

    Still in the hills with a poor, intermittent, internet connection, so I have to sit this one out. Learned little new about the Hunger Strike but quite a bit about some of the contributers in this and related subjects.

    One very important point missed here that no one have referred to in any detail so far, these ‘released papers’ are very much incomplete. All of these papers are screened by an experienced Senior Civil Servant offecial for any material that because of security concerns or for other reasons, should not be in the public domain.

    Such of the ‘Hunger Strike Material’ as was released, was only placed in the public domain after very carefull consideration of existing British interests in the Six Counties, in the Twenty Six Counties and in the whole sphere of British European, US and world relations.

    The dominant active requirment here is narrative control in furderance of contemporary policy and justification of past British actions.

    This is centeral to British ongoing interests and the importance placed by the British on narrative control can be seen from the current US ‘ University Tapes’ eposode and how they intervened to prevent an indapendent, authorative source that could challange aspects of that British State narative they are attempting to propogate as ‘The Record’ of these, by now, historical events.

    That lesson was not lost on Irish Revolutionaries or Instutions that considered establishing such local, accessable records of events, ‘fellon setting’ and the possibility of having their accounts used for ‘assisting the authorities’ put paid to more than a few such proposed interviews by Republicans.

    Selective release of papers have always played and continue to play a primary role in British narative establishment and control, this latest ‘Papers Release’ is no different. British State policy is parmount and we have only to look at the whole ‘Casement Diaries’ saga to see how skilled they were and have always been in this area.

    This selective paper release is no different.

  • Pete Baker

    “One very important point missed here that no one have referred to in any detail so far, these ‘released papers’ are very much incomplete.”


    You’d think that such an important caveat would have been mentioned by the Sinn Féin president.

    But his mind might have been on other matters.

    Such as his own “narrative control”…

    After all, in 2009, McGuinness deployed that ‘selective’ defence

    Mr McGuinness said the documents released this year by the British government were selective.

  • Munsterview

    Pete : if Gerry Adams issue a statement without running it by me first, I can hardly be held responsible for that. However on reading your comment he may see the error of his ways and do so in future, I will keep you posted on that one!

    I was not employing a ‘selective’ or indeed any other kind of defense, as a historian I was but drawing the general readers attention to the methologies and criteria used by British State offecials in slelcting such doccuments and State Papers as they deem ‘safe for release’ under the ‘thirty year rule’

    As such my observations were of a general nature. In regard to the whole area of narrative control, the British record in this arena in Ireland and in their other Colonial countries when set against factual history, speaks for itself.

    My comments were pertinent: one has only to take the two Bloody Sunday Tribunals as an example, both dealt with the same events, the first had access to a greater volume and more immediate information to the massacre, yet both enquries produced dimetrically opposed and contridictory findings.

    No concern raised in the ‘Mother Of Parlaments’ as to why this was so; could the reason be that all in British politics know how ‘the game is played’ ?

    My caveat as you termed it was no more than a reminder to one and all that whether it is playing ‘The Great Game’ in the Far East or the ‘Little Game’ in what they consider to be their own back yard, the Brits are proven masters in this sphere of activity.

    The selective release of State papers to mould public perceptions are but a small, if none the less, significant part of this whole process.

  • cynic2

    We would all love to see all those state papers disclosed so we an see the full nature and scope of those SF British contacts. But as the State papers were selective, why don’t SF put all their papers and notes online so we can all see them – and see them all of course. No censoring or spinning

  • Pat Mc Larnon

    “Pat you didn’t answer my question in regards PRM’s faith in him since the early 70s…

    Of course you didn’t, which is not surprising.”

    Which is of course irrelevant to the disclosures contained in the papers. Once again you attempt to get off very specific points with a welter of bluff and bluster. Which is off course not surprising.

    Duddy does have to clarify his position.

  • Into the west

    pat could you outline what Duddy has to clarify?

  • Pat Mc Larnon

    Into the west,

    re- read the thread and my posts of 7.54pm and 8.31pm yesterday would highlight my concerns.

  • Dec

    ‘Thanks. However this can’t be evidence against Duddy as I have been informed on another thread that you can’t rely on the 30 year files as the brits even forged their own confidential files as they did with regard to the McCreesh family.’


    Either that or you were informed no-one believed the word of a single prison officer with Bat Fink-like hearing over the word of an entire family. Apart from you that is.

  • Mick Fealty


    You’re asking for Brendan Duddy to come and explain himself. Well that’s not going to happen. Brendan has been extremely unwell for the last year since suffering a massive heart attack.

    He cannot walk or talk, and although making a steady recovery and mentally as sharp as ever, there is little to no likelihood of another interview with him.

    Though I am forced to ask why you think he needs to?

    There are no inconsistencies in his account. If it surprises you that he needed to use codewords, then watch that video interview he did at the Feile for a perfectly plausible explanation.

  • Pat Mc Larnon


    I did not know he was ill so it now appears his behaviour will go unquestioned. As stated it appears he did not disclose his code words and advice to the British in the papers he lodged with Galway University

    I have linked to a previous occasion where a person involved in similar mediation moved away from that position and instead became a player in events with a false statement that the person thought would help move along events.

    I do think it is relevant that the British sought to give hime code words to use. If he wanted to tell them that a republican was nearby then he should simply have done so.

    The fact that he was telling the British to adopt a hardline indicates that he was moving from the role of mediator to that of advisor. Those who hang on his every word have yet to offer an expanation as to why he would do so.

  • Mick Fealty

    None of that stacks up, in any sane or rational way at least. These events took place thirty years ago, not last week.

    Mr Dudey appears, up until now at least to have been trusted at the very highest levels of the Republican movement. And he appears to have been a very plain speaking and direct man.

    Not only did he tell the Brits to go in hard he also told the ‘Provisionals’ if they did not take the negotiations seriously he was off on his holidays. Takes guts to tell anyone, never mind Martin McGuinness, that with a man’s life apparently in the balance.

    As for code words, give us all a break. do you know who else was in the room with him at the time?

  • Pat Mc Larnon

    It does stack up in a very sane and rational way. They did indeed take place 30 years ago, that is the whole point. I thought we all understood that it was the release of papers under the 30 yr rule ffs.

    You can’t have it both ways. You seek to hold people to account on recollections of events 30 years ago that are based solely on their memories and yet seek to exclude revelations from contemporary papers from the time.

    He did indeed tell the British to go in hard. Why would a person acting as a mediator or simply a conduit take a partial advisory role? Welcoming his behaviour certainly does not throw any light on it.

    As for code words why use them? Why introduce Machiavellian techniques into a sitaution where distrust is quite evidently a serious factor at play. So it’s a case of let’s pick over single words or the interpretation of single words from 30 years ago, but give ‘us’ all a break when it perfectly valid to question the use of underhand techniques.

    A bit of advice go outside into the wind and give your head a shake.

  • Jimmy Sands

    As for code words why use them?

    I suspect it was because the brits liked to deny they talked to the RA and this rather silly device presumably they felt allowed them to do so.

  • Mick Fealty


    Quite so. But what has medication to do with anything?