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1981 H Block Hunger Strikes - AUDIO - Media Misinformation - discussed by Danny Morrison Eamon Mallie Eamon Phoenix

category national | arts and media | news report author Saturday January 07, 2012 18:03author by Terence McSwiney - The Hunger Stikers Strike Back Report this post to the editors

Today PK with Pat Kenny RTE Radio One 6 January 2012

Very interesting discussion on Today PK (RTE Radio One) of how media misinformation, most of which originated during the 1981 H Block hunger strikes resurfaced during the release of state papers in 2012. Allegations that: - Bobby Sands told the Pope's representative that he would come off the hunger strike; - that Raymond McCreesh's family forced him to remain on hunger strike; - that the British agreed the substance of the prisoner's demands between the death of the fourth and fifth hunger striker; are discussed, by journalist Eamon Mallie, historian Eamon Phoenix and 1981 prisoners' spokesperson Danny Morrison.
West Belfast Bobby Sands Hunger Strike mural
West Belfast Bobby Sands Hunger Strike mural

One claim was originated by a former prisoner who, with help from Ed Maloney, spread the story that the republican leadership outside the prison turned down a British concession of most of the prisoners' demands.

Though discounted by most prisoners and by other contemporary witnesses, O'Rawe's allegations were amplified by a combination of pro-British journalists, anti republican Irish journalists and newspapers, plus journalists who oppose the peace process. Now, that allegation is firmly put to bed.

The state papers release includes, besides a time line that undermines the allegation, a typewritten text with Margaret Thatcher's handwriting on it, crossing out even the most minimal of concessions.

Thatcher and the British government were broken by the hunger strike that reverberated throughout the world. The hunger strikes saw Bobby Sands elected as MP in Fermanagh and South Tyrone, former SDLP leader Gerry Fitt was defeated in the 1981 local council elections and also lost his West Belfast seat to Gerry Adams in 1983. In the June 1981 southern general election, hunger striker Ciaran Doherty was elected a TD in Cavan Monaghan before he died. Another H Block prisoner, Paddy Agnew, was elected in Louth.

The prison authorities conceded the substance of the prisoners' demands after the last hunger striker died, after a campaign that lasted seven months. Morrison points out on the programme that when he was imprisoned on a trumped up charge during the later 1980s the prisoners had control of their own affairs and the prisoner governor recognised republican leadership structures.

The policy of 'Criminalisation' was broken.

Files 'demolish' claim IRA spurned hunger strike deal

Brian Rowan Belfast Telegraph Saturday 31 December 2011

Some of the secret Government papers published yesterday under the 30-year rule appear to demolish claims that the lives of six of the 1981 hunger strikers could have been saved if the IRA had accepted a British 'deal'.

For years the republican leadership has been locked in a war of words with former prisoner Richard O'Rawe, author of the controversial book Blanketmen. In it he claims that in July 1981 the jail leadership, of which he was a part, accepted a British deal to end the hunger strike, but were overruled by the IRA 'army council' on the outside. Four men, including Bobby Sands, had already died. Six more would follow.

The secret British Cabinet papers dating back to the period shine a light on important telephone contacts over the weekend of July 4-6. Businessman and former Policing Board member Brendan Duddy, who had the codename 'Soon', was the key contact in a chain linking the Government and the republican leadership. His identity and role were not publicly known at the time.

The papers reveal negotiations to get the Belfast republican Danny Morrison into the Maze Prison.

"The foundation of his (O'Rawe's) allegation, upon which his book stands or falls, is what exactly happened on Sunday, July 5 when I visited the hunger strikers in the prison hospital and, separately, 'Bik' McFarlane," Morrison said.

 "In his book he claims that I brought a message in from the British Government, a message that amounted to a 'deal', that I confided the details of this 'deal' to Bik McFarlane, who upon his return to his cell that Sunday night wrote down the details and sent it to O'Rawe," Morrison continued.

"However, with the publication of British papers from 1981 the British position which emerges is the position which I and Sinn Fein have been stating all along.

"At the time of my visit to the prison on the afternoon of Sunday July 5, 1981, the British Government had yet to even formulate its position, never mind proposing a 'deal'."

Morrison - a senior figure in the republican leadership at the time - points to a paragraph in the just-published Government papers. Brendan Duddy is speaking to a British contact, and advises that Martin McGuinness has just arrived. The papers read: "He (Duddy) said that time was of the essence and asked what the current HMG position was. We explained that it was important before drafting any document for consideration by ministers that we should possess the Provisionals' view. "'Soon' (Duddy's codename) then undertook to seek clear views on their position, which would be relayed to us later after discussion in the light of Morrison's visit."

The paragraph seems to suggest that whatever possibilities there were, there was no formal British position when Morrison visited the jail.

"This statement demolishes Richard O'Rawe's claims of a deal, claims that have caused unnecessary suffering to the families of the last six hunger strikers to die," the veteran Belfast republican told this newspaper.

AUDIO in two parts – TODAY PK Friday 6 January 2012 with Pat Kenny - listen here

PART One audio - Time 14:28 PART Two audio – Time 20:54

Related Link: http://www.belfasttelegraph.co.uk/news/local-national/northern-ireland/files-demolish-claim-ira-spurned-hunger-strike-deal-16097587.html

Notable comments during 1981 H Block hunger strikes
Notable comments during 1981 H Block hunger strikes

Margaret Thatcher's approach during 1981 H Block hunger strikes
Margaret Thatcher's approach during 1981 H Block hunger strikes

PART ONE Danny Morrison Eamon Mallie Eamon Phoenix discuss media misinformation 1981 H Block hunger strikes
audio PART ONE Danny Morrison Eamon Mallie Eamon Phoenix discuss media misinformation 1981 H Block hunger strikes 2.49 Mb

PART TWO Danny Morrison Eamon Mallie Eamon Phoenix discuss media misinformation 1981 H Block hunger strikes
audio PART TWO Danny Morrison Eamon Mallie Eamon Phoenix discuss media misinformation 1981 H Block hunger strikes 2.39 Mb

author by Faul McForbespublication date Sun Jan 08, 2012 18:00author address author phone Report this post to the editors


Look at the comments after this praise of censorship. Harris fools fewer and fewer as he becomes a caricature of his former self.

author by Séamuspublication date Sun Jan 08, 2012 20:47author address author phone Report this post to the editors

Morrison's been accused of revisionism by a blogger who's been following this for quite some time...


author by James Reliantpublication date Mon Jan 09, 2012 00:24author address author phone Report this post to the editors

More mystification. Listen to the audio.

That 'Maggie-Thatcher-was-desperate-to-give-in' stuff is all over the SINDO like a rash today. Its one big flaw is, why didn't the brits denounce republicans for failing to grasp the allegedly proffered olive branch back in 1981?

The O'Rawe story is being pushed by people who confuse anti-provoism with anti-imperialism and encouraged by useful idiots like Eoghan Harris who has been bitterly anti-provo since 1970 (it is his one consistency).

author by Standing by true republicanismpublication date Mon Jan 09, 2012 18:36author address author phone Report this post to the editors

Very hard to stomach an individual like Danny Morrison discuss a topic like political status for republican prisoners and th at the 1981 Hunger Strike when at this exact moment in time republican prisoners in Maghaberry internment camp are forced to engage in a dirty protest similar to that which preceeded the hunger strike of 81 that led to deaths of 10 republican prisoners, all to have their right to political status respected.
And its unfortunate that the silence from supposed influential republicans such as Morrison is deafening, who along with his party of former republicans turned constitutional reformists who adminster and profit British paramilitary policing and British rule of law while have the nerve to lecture about the struggle of republican prisoners in 1981

It is important to note that a significant number of family members of those who perished on hunger strike in 1981 now reject the profiteering off their loved ones memories by the likes of Morrison and his Sinn Fein/Stormont stoolies.

Take the flag from the mast Morrison/PSF, you shame the brave 10 of 81, who didn't give their lives for a reformed Stormont or making the Adams Junta millionaires

author by Gayle Carnegiepublication date Mon Jan 09, 2012 22:29author address author phone Report this post to the editors

In 1981 the prisoners set out to win suport for winnable demands and welcomed support for any who were prepared to give it. Supporting the IRA campaign was not a pre-condition. Those who are in prison today are ill served by the poster above, who uses their incarceration to drive away support.

Personally, I don't support the dissidents' campaign. Does that mean that the poster above would denounce me if I took an interest in their prison conditions. Have they asked Morrison for support? Is support for the dissidents' armed campaign a condition? If so, their cause is miles away from that of the H Block prisoners in 1981.

Anyway, does the poster think the Brits were about to give in after the deaths of four hunger strikers? It is fantasy, isn't it. Or is the poster so consumed with bile, that he can't even agree with Morrison if he is right? It is a political neurosis the dissidents will get over, in time.

author by Standing by true republicanismpublication date Tue Jan 10, 2012 15:05author address author phone Report this post to the editors

Firstly the term 'Dissident' does not apply to anti-GFA republicans.
It applies to Sinn Fein/Provisional movement, who have dissented from all aspects of revolutionary thinking and republican principle to get votes for Stormont and token respectablity in the South.

These votes have made you a dissident, not those who stand by tge tenants of republicanism

Fact remains, Sinn Fein dont support POWs anymore, even when comes to humantarian reasons, example would be the PSF leadership ordering members nit to attend Brendan Lillis protests back in Autumn.

The GFA stipulated that in order to sit in Stormont, tge Provos had abandon the idea of POWs, the reward for accepting this threachery was prisoners who supported tge GFA got out early, good to see, but it is reason why POWs of today have it so hard again, sure you can agree with that be you 'dissident supporter' or not.

Your pontificating and overt arrogant tone is telling, I think you know damn well Sinn Feins current commitment to political status is zilch,
Understandable given they help administer British paramilitary policing which the mainn agenda is quash republican resistance.

Morrison is chief Provo revisionist

author by Séamuspublication date Tue Jan 10, 2012 18:08author address author phone Report this post to the editors

In 1981 the prisoners set out to win suport for winnable demands and welcomed support for any who were prepared to give it. Supporting the IRA campaign was not a pre-condition.

Sinn Féin tried to make it a precondition, which was quickly quashed at the first major conference about supporting the prisoners in 1978.

The prisoners in Maghaberry right now may not have much support, but it took years to build up real support for the prisoners in the H-Blocks 35 years ago.

author by Gayle Carnegiepublication date Wed Jan 11, 2012 08:24author address author phone Report this post to the editors

Seamus writes that in 1978 Sinn Féin "tried to make" supporting the IRA campaign "a precondition" for support of the H Block prisoners. Did they? Why did they stop, possibly because they believed it was shooting themselves in the foot, or it was the equivalent of banging their head against a brick wall. So they stopped.

Thanks for making my point. Poster previous to Seamus, please take note.

author by Séamuspublication date Wed Jan 11, 2012 20:01author address author phone Report this post to the editors

Seamus writes that in 1978 Sinn Féin "tried to make" supporting the IRA campaign "a precondition" for support of the H Block prisoners. Did they? Why did they stop, possibly because they believed it was shooting themselves in the foot, or it was the equivalent of banging their head against a brick wall. So they stopped.

They stopped because they didn't control the room and the feeling was against the direction they wanted to push the nascent H-Block/Armagh movement. Gerry Adams acknowledged in "Towards a Lasting Peace" that Sinn Féin took the wrong approach to building a prisoner support movement at the start.

author by Gayle Carnegiepublication date Thu Jan 12, 2012 20:59author address author phone Report this post to the editors

I agree with you (and Gerry Adams) completely. Now pass that thought along (without acknowledging any connection between it and Gerry Adams).

author by Pat Mc Larnonpublication date Tue Jan 17, 2012 09:33author email author address author phone Report this post to the editors


Richard O’Rawe’s account of the 1981 hunger strike has suffered yet another major blow which might actually finish off once and for all his scandalous accusations.
Recently Brendan Duddy’s archive, which includes his ‘diary’ for the hunger strike, was released and can be read here - http://archives.library.nuigalway.ie/duddy/
Until now, O’Rawe has relied on partial interpretations of Duddy’s archive and British papers taken out of context, and often citing the wrong dates, to shore up his case.

In summary, the documents show the Republican Movement desperately beseeching the British to respond to the prisoners’ conciliatory 4th July statement right up until hours before Joe McDonnell’s death; that it proposed to the British an honourable way-out involving two statements, one public, one private, with the private statement dealing with the detail and pointing out what would be available to the prisoners if the hunger strike ended immediately.
The archive shows that the British would not budge beyond a certain position.
Interestingly, nowhere in the republican statements does the phrase objecting to ‘the tone’ appear in reference to the British offer, a phrase which O’Rawe has relied on heavily to depict the republican negotiators as callous.
In the ‘Andersonstown News’, O’Rawe was trying to put a spin on Call Number 4 between Duddy and the British, where the British state “that it was important, before drafting any document for consultation by ministers, that we should possess the Provisionals’ views.” O’Rawe was claiming that that must be a reference to his famous “substance of our five demands”, allegedly brought to the jail on Sunday 5th July by Danny Morrison. However, it is now clear from the detailed exchanges contained in the archive that nothing preceded the calls which would allow O’Rawe to make that claim.
O’Rawe’s argument that Morrison brought in such an offer on the 5th July now falls. Duddy logs the British offer as having been telephoned to him by the British at 11.30pm, Monday 6th July.
O’Rawe’s argument that in a letter on the afternoon of Monday 6th July the Army Council ordered Brendan McFarlane to reject the offer and so allowed six men to die, now falls, because an offer had yet to be delivered.
O’Rawe’s argument that the republican negotiators merely disagreed with the ‘tone’ of the offer, now falls.
We know from the telephone transcripts that it was Duddy who first phoned the British on 4th July and gave the impression that the Republican Movement had been in contact. He gave the Republican Movement the reverse impression about who initiated the contact. This is substantiated by the bewildering reaction of the republican negotiators when the British refuse to improve upon the Monday night 11.30pm offer, despite republicans believing that they were involved in a process to resolve the hunger strike and save men’s lives.
This is an extract from the republican reply to this offer as contained in the Duddy archive. The reply appears to have been transmitted to the British at 3.30am, Tuesday 7th July:
“When this present phase of exchanges was initiated we were informed (1) that you sought agreement on a document which would have our endorsement. (2) that you sought agreement on a mutual public position. (3) that your interest centred on the prisoners’ statement of 4th July 81.”
The republican negotiators, presumably wary of the British reneging on woolly promises, stated: “If it is your intention, as outlined in the Atkins [statement] of June 30th ‘to improve the prison regime’… on these points (following the ending of the hunger strike) then we and the prisoners need an outline of the specific improvements envisaged by you.
“We also require your attitude to the detailed proposals outlined by the prisoners. Because of this unsatisfactory method of exchanges we request acknowledgement on receipt of this communication from you and request approx time of reply. We also request access to the prisoners.”
The background to these desperate attempts to save lives should not be forgotten. Having refused to engage for 128 days, during which four hunger strikers died, the British on the night of the 6th July, 1981, gave republicans until 9am the following morning to take or leave an unsatisfactory offer. Just 9 ½ hours.

Sometime in the afternoon of Tuesday 7th July (Duddy doesn’t note the exact time) the British sent a hard-hitting message, refusing to answer the questions that were asked but stated that (1) they “cannot move from 30th June principle” (Atkins’ statement which O’Rawe had described as containing “nothing of value”). “(2) Position / Jul (July?) went to the limits that we could do within our prisons. (3) By suggesting we do more the SS (shop stewards – the code name for the republican negotiators) are inviting us to abandon our principles. This we cannot do.”

The British described the republican response as amounting to a rejection, stated that their discussions with the ICJP “have come to an end and they will be no further part in our efforts to resolve the problem”; seem to say that they are sorry if the problem has been exacerbated, and hopes raised through false impressions given by the ICJP; and complain that the republicans abused the channel by telling the ICJP of its existence and this placed the future of the channel in question.

The republicans reply complaining that the British have not answered their previous communication and requesting acknowledgement of receipt of this message. There is no British answer. They send another message at 7pm reminding the British that they were informed that when the exchanges were initiated the British wanted to end the hunger strike and that there would be an agreed statement centred around the prisoners’ position as outlined on 4th July. They say that the issue can be resolved without loss of principle by any side.

Just hours before the death of Joe McDonnell on Wednesday 8th July, the British send a reply. We know from the minutes in the state papers that Atkins had agreed with Thatcher that they should send “a draft statement enlarging upon the message of the previous evening but in no way whatever departing from its substance”. In this statement they elaborate upon the issue of work but state that “little advance is possible on association”.

There is a page with 5am as the time it was written. This is tragedy writ large. Duddy notes the reply from the British with regard to the republican proposal for a private document to back up the public one. It says:

“The management (British) cannot contemplate the proposal for two documents set out in your last communication and now therefore the exchanges on this channel to be ended.”

Up the side of this page Duddy has written a comment sometime after 7am: “Joe McDonnell died at seven minutes past five. We first heard it on the 7am news.”

So, far from allowing six hunger strikers to die we can see that their friends and their comrades were frantically trying to move a mountain of intransigence in Thatcher and her ministers.

Richard O’Rawe and those who have so viciously posed false arguments for the past five years and caused untold damage to the families of the hunger strikers should do the honourable and admit to having got it wrong.

Related Link: http://archives.library.nuigalway.ie/duddy/
author by Fuddy Duddypublication date Wed Jan 18, 2012 09:22author address author phone Report this post to the editors

Thatcher’s Defender by Danny Morrison

Brendan Duddy Archive

Brendan Duddy archive shows that RIchard O'Rawe has made a big blunder
Brendan Duddy archive shows that RIchard O'Rawe has made a big blunder

author by Dougalpublication date Tue Mar 06, 2012 01:30author address author phone Report this post to the editors

Mr McLaron is twisting the facts as usual.
The issue is that Adams and a cabal known as "the kitchen cabinet" did not inform the prisoners.SF or the IRA of developments.
It is much more complicated and detailed than the above,
Go to Politics.ie where McClaron defends Adams handling of pedophilia and accuses critics of undermining the GFA.

It is blindly obvious that something is wrong.

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