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Uncovering the Truth About the 1981 Hunger Strike

Thatcher’s dealings with IRA go back to hunger strikes (1999)

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Thatcher’s dealings with IRA go back to hunger strikes
(by Henry McDonald, The Observer)
See also: Thatcher’s ‘offer to hunger strikers’ (2006)

MARGARET Thatcher – who vowed in public never to negotiate with terrorists – used the secret “back channel” between the IRA and MI5 as far back as the 1981 hunger strike to offer republicans a deal to end the prison fast.

The link between MI5 and the IRA, the former Derry priest Denis Bradley, confirmed yesterday that Lady Thatcher also approved of the clandestine talks which led to the Northern Ireland peace process in early 1990.

Bradley said Lady Thatcher knew that a senior MI5 officer, Robert McLarnon, had been holding talks with him and the IRA leadership during the hunger strike. According to Bradley these contacts were resumed with the former Prime Minister’s full knowledge before she was deposed as Tory party leader in November 1990.
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Thatcher’s Secret Channel & Deal to End Hunger Strike (1999)

No headline or by-line. Dated 17 Oct 1999

Margaret Thatcher – who vowed never to negotiate with terrorists – used a secret channel between the IRA and MI5 as far back as the 1981 hunger strike to offer republicans a deal to end the prison fast.

The link between MI5 and the IRA, the former Derry priest Denis Bradley, confirmed yesterday that Thatcher also approved of clandestine talks which led to the Northern Ireland peace process in early 1990.

Bradley said she knew that a senior MI5 officer, Robert McLarnon, had been holding talks with him and the IRA leadership during the hunger strike. According to Bradley, these contacts were resumed with Thatcher’s knowledge before she was deposed as Tory leader in November 1990.

Bradley said yesterday: ‘I was actually in the room with Robert McLarnon and IRA leaders when a phone call came from a European summit during the hunger strike. Thatcher was at a European summit but kept in contact with us by phone.

‘An offer was made to republicans to end the hunger strike; it was actually a better deal than the one they eventually settled for. At the time the republican movement was not in control, it was the prisoners who were in control.

‘As far as I remember the offer was made after the second hunger striker, Francis Hughes, died. What we were being told was that this was the Prime Minister’s last offer on the hunger strike.’

On the 1990 talks, Bradley said Lady Thatcher was aware that the channel had been activated to explore whether the IRA wanted to end their violence.

Sourced from the Guardian website

Thatcher gave approval to talks with IRA (1999)

Thatcher gave approval to talks with IRA

Northern Ireland: special report
Premier who ‘never talked to terrorists’ allowed minister to contact leaders through secret channel
Nicholas Watt, Political Correspondent
The Guardian, Saturday 16 October 1999 03.17 BST

Margaret Thatcher gave her personal approval to secret talks between government officials and the IRA leadership in 1990, setting in a train a dialogue which led to the Northern Ireland peace process which she now regularly denounces.

In one of her final acts before she was deposed as prime minister, Lady Thatcher allowed her Northern Ireland secretary, Peter Brooke, to talk to republicans through a secret “back channel” after MI5 advised the government that the IRA was looking at ways of ending its terrorist campaign.

The disclosure of her involvement will embarrass the former prime minister who has always insisted she never talked to terrorists. Lady Thatcher, who was nearly murdered by the IRA in the 1984 Brighton bomb attack, also gave the go-ahead to the talks in the same year that republicans murdered her friend and close colleague, Ian Gow.
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