July 1981

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Uncovering the Truth About the 1981 Hunger Strike

Anthony McIntyre: A Spartan’s Story

A Spartan’s Story

Anthony McIntyre • Fourthwrite

blanketman

Richard O’Rawe has come out from under a blanket of political and literary obscurity to pen arguably the finest book crafted by any living former republican prisoner. With no shortage of good authors, the competition has been formidable; Pat Magee, Laurence McKeown and Ronan Bennett to name but three. Blanketmen is the end product of three years writing. It is also the only logical terminus for its author to arrive at after two decades of internal turmoil resulting from the H-Block blanket protest and subsequent hunger strikes. Either he brought his journey to an end or he could circle endlessly around the totem of established wisdom, shouldering with him the baggage others, in his view, had expected him to carry in order to spare themselves unnecessary burden.

To write this book O’Rawe must have drawn on the depths of reserve that made him one of the H-Blocks’ 300 Spartans. He is aware of the history of threats and violence against those not of the dominant party persuasion in West Belfast where he lives. For all the put-downs that he sprang this book on an unsuspecting republican community, O’Rawe has revealed to Fourthwrite that over a year ago a senior figure in the republican hierarchy paid a brace of visits to his home making inquiries about it. Despite current allegations from that hierarchy that O’Rawe did not inform the families of dead hunger strikers of his decision to commit his reflections to paper, the senior republican was concerned only about the potential discomfort that Gerry Adams might face. The families were never mentioned.
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A bizarre tale with a ring of authenticity

Thursday, April 07, 2005

A bizarre tale with a ring of authenticity

blanketmenBlanketmen
By Richard O’Rawe
New Island Books • £Sterling 9.99

Reviewed by John Cooney
Western People

During the 1981 hunger strikes in the H-Block of the Maze Prison a regular visitor was the Dungannon priest, Father Denis Faul, whom the prisoners nick-named “Denis the Menace” because of his campaign with the prisoners’ families to end their fast.

Recalling their ordeal in one of the most gruesome episodes of the Troubles some 24 years later, Fr Faul, then chaplain to the prisoners, says that he felt at the time that there was “a political dimension” that made his humanitarian campaign more difficult.
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SPRING 2013: 55 HOURS
A day-by-day account of the events of early July, 1981.


There's an inner thing in every man,
Do you know this thing my friend? It has withstood the blows of a million years, and will do so to the end.