“a leadership which has lost on prisons has nowhere to go…”

Fascinating snippet from papers released by the Thatcher Foundation…

Mr Atkins, in his 1981 minute, told Mrs Thatcher: “The Provisionals need to settle the prisons problem on terms they can represent as acceptable to them if they are to go on – as we know some of them wish to do – to consider an end of the current terrorist campaign. A leadership which has ‘lost’ on the prisons is in no position to do this.”

The typed phrase “an end of the current terrorist campaign” in the minute is underlined in ink in longhand.

  • Alias

    It’s interesting that British security services knew about the Adams/McGuinness agenda before the rest of PSF/PIRA did – and that they were propping up the Adams/McGuinness leadership way back then, briefing the British SoS/government to ensure that no damage was done to the credibility of either of them. You have to wonder at what point the security services came to regard Adams/McGuinness as their allies in the defeat of PIRA, and whether or not it was from the very beginning of their ‘careers’ in that organisation. Agent placement, protected species, and all that…

    It looks like poor Bobby Sands and ilk died for bums on Stormont seats after all – even if Adams/McGuinness ‘forgot’ to mention that to him at the time.

  • Dixie Elliott

    More proof from the documents that the British knew two days before Joe McDonnell died that certain members of PIRA were already considering taking the political path…

    “1. (a) There was some evidence that some Provisionals favoured a ceasefire. There were practical difficulties for the PIRA in maintaining a terrorist campaign. The Provisionals had gained considerable success through political, rather than terrorist, activity, following the death of Sands. However, the Provisionals would never call a ceasefire from a position of weakness.[…]

  • Pete Baker

    And from an second Irish Times report

    This new information is likely to lead to speculation about how the British government had this belief and whether it was gained through MI5, MI6, agents, informers or some other form of communication or contact. It also raises question about why the IRA did not end its violent campaign earlier.

    The British government from these official papers carried the conviction that there were influential IRA leaders who were considering a ceasefire. This was at a time when republicans such as Daithi O Conaill and Ruairi O Bradaigh, viewed as being predominantly militarist, appeared to be in the ascendant within the broad movement although they were under pressure from Northern republicans led by Mr Adams, Mr Morrison and the Sinn Fein Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness.

    It wasn’t until two years later that the Northern leadership of Gerry Adams and Martin McGuinness fully took over the provisional republican movement. This month’s Sinn Fein ardfheis marked Mr Adams 30th year as Sinn Fein president.

    These papers also reinforce the point that while the British prime minister Margaret Thatcher was insisting there could be no dealings with Provisional republicans during the hunger strikes that she was in fact allowing official contact to take place through a mediator – and was prepared up to a point to allow a settlement.

  • Pete Baker

    A quick reminder of a fictional quote of the day…

  • Dixie Elliott

    This proves beyond doubt that the Hunger Strikers knew nothing of what had been happening since July 5th 1981…

    “On July 29 1981, at the request of the families and Mgr Denis Faul, Gerry Adams, Fermanagh and South Tyrone election candidate Owen Carron, and INLA leader Seamus Ruddy visited the hunger strikers, ostensibly to give them their assessment of the situation.

    Thirteen years later, in 1994, Former Hunger Striker Laurence recorded the visit in his book, Nor Meekly Serve My Time. On page 236 he wrote of Gerry Adams having visited hunger striker Kieran Doherty:

    “On their way out of his cell Doc’s parents met and spoke with Gerry, Bik and the others. They asked what the situation was and Gerry said he had just told all the stailceoiri, including Kieran, that there was no deal on the table from the Brits, no movement of any sort and if the stailc continued, Doc would most likely be dead within a few days. They just listened to this and nodded, more or less resigned to the fact that they would be watching their son die any day now.”

    Kieran Doherty TD passed away four days after Adams’s visit, believing that there ‘was no deal on the table from the Brits, no movement of any sort’.

    What Adams seemingly did not tell Kieran’s dignified parents, Alfie and Margaret, was that, actually, there was a deal on the table from the Brits, and it had been there from before Joe McDonnell died.

    Moreover, he did not tell them that there had been movement.

    Adams did not tell Mr and Mrs Doherty – or their noble son – about the Mountain Climber offer.

    According to Laurence McKeown, Adams did not tell any of the hunger strikers about the Mountain Climber offer. Worse still, he told them the opposite of what he knew to be the facts of the situation. [….]”

  • 241934 john brennan

    Gerry Adams, either deliberately or naively, in December 1980 cocked up the settlement to the first hunger strike.

    Sean McKenna was at the point of death when John Hume visited the starving prisoners, listened to their demands then negotiated with NIO what he considered to an agreement acceptable to the prisoners and he drafted a document which he gave to Humphrey Atkins, the Secretary of State. Hume then sent word to the starving prisoners that if he appeared in the prison accompanied by an NIO official, the deal was genuine. In the event, where Hume had written ‘civilian clothes’ in the document the NIO amended it to read ‘civilian type clothes’.

    Neither Atkins, nor the NIO got back to Hume, but the following day the hunger strike was called off

    An NIO official and Redemptorist priest Father Meagher met at Aldergrorve airport and went to the prison – and the hunger strike was immedaitely called off. Hume believed that a deal was done between Stormont Castle and the Provisionals, in order to prevent him from taking political credit –which he had promised not to do.

    At the time Adams was vice-president of Sinn Fein at the time and opposed to the IRA hunger strike, writing: “we are tactically, strategically and morally opposed to the hunger strike”.

    It was out of this sense of betrayal the Bobby Sands started the second hunger strike on 1 March 1981

    The above facts are take from Barry white’s book – JOHN HUME, statesman of the Troubles

  • son of sam

    Whatever way you look at it,it doesn’t say much for Mr Adams credibility .But sadly most commentators prefer to look the other way and believe the likes of Danny Morrison.

  • Dixie Elliott

    241934 john brennan

    Bobby knew that night that there was nothing on offer from the Brits after the 1st Hunger Strike ended. He saw the Fr Meagher document which contained the line…’Prisoners could wear civilian type clothing during the working week’

    Upon returning to the wing he told us that we ‘Had got nothing’ and that very night he set about writing outside in regards to a 2nd Hunger Strike. This is actually referred to in the Prelude to his autobiography ‘Nothing But an Unfinished Song.

    The lie about the Brits reneging on a deal during the 1st Hunger Strike was created by Morrison and company in order to claim that they couldn’t be trusted with the offer of July 5th to make public that offer, which included the all important clothes, as soon as the Hunger Strike ended and not before.

    The fact is that the ICJP offered to act as guarantors over any offer. This they could have done with the Hunger Strike being ended temporarily in order to test the Brits. There was a queue of men waiting to go on the hunger strike. If the Brits had reneged those men would have started another hunger strike and the ICJP could have backed up the fact that the Brits had reneged.

    However Adams sent for the ICJP and asked them to step aside.

  • In 1988 John Hume, Martin Mansergh, and Charles Haughey all concluded that Sinn Fein and the Republicans weren’t ready for peace yet. The situation did not really change until 1992 when Haughey was replaced by Reynolds, Thatcher by Major and the IRA had continued to suffer the effects of British penetration of their ASUs. The idea that the Provisionals were ripe for peace in 1981 or could have been does not strike me as credible. It was a number of operations such as Loughnall and Gibraltar that made them conclude that their long war was unwinnable.

  • Alias

    “The idea that the Provisionals were ripe for peace in 1981 or could have been does not strike me as credible. It was a number of operations such as Loughnall and Gibraltar that made them conclude that their long war was unwinnable.”

    That wasn’t the claim made. The SoS was likely briefed by his security services that PIRA could be ‘de-commissioned’ from within by elements of its own leadership, and that the government must be careful not to undermine these elements since they were to be regarded as allies in the campaign to defeat PIRA.

    The security services were in control of PIRA’s ‘intelligence’ department as it was their agents, appointed and protected by the ‘elements’, who were in charge of detecting agents/informers/touts within PIRA and who also vetted and vetoed new members. Consequently, PIRA had no reliable means of detecting agents/informers/touts within its ranks and they had a free run.

    Hardliners who wouldn’t endorse British rule and agree to assist in its internal administration and who couldn’t be marginalised by ‘the elements’ were helpfully bumped off by the security services.

    In that context, although it is highly unlikely that the SoS was briefed by the security services to this extent, ‘the elements’ were agents of influence.

  • Dixie Elliott
  • Dixie Elliott

    Watch right through…