July 1981

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Uncovering the Truth About the 1981 Hunger Strike

Richard O’Rawe, PSF, and Events in 1981

Richard O’Rawe, PSF, and Events in 1981

“It only becomes the truth when it is officially denied.”

Gerard Foster, The Blanket • 8 July 2006

I imagine from the title of this article it would be natural to think I am writing about O’Rawes’ book, Blanketmen. Nothing could be further from the truth. I haven’t even read the book, though no doubt I will eventually get around to getting a copy of it.

I am more interested in the Provisional Movements’ Leadership’s (PML) reaction to the book and that of a few others, like Danny Morrison. I had, of course, heard about O’Rawes’ claims, but felt that they were only his opinions and he would have no way of backing them up. It was a non-starter and people would soon forget about his claims that the PML outside the prison let the last 6 Hunger Strikers, including 2 INLA Volunteers, die to promote their own political agenda. Let’s face it, this claim was so serious I did not believe it; I was wondering what agenda O’Rawe was working to, and the release of the book coming up to the 25th anniversary of the Hunger Strikers deaths smacked of commercialism.

The reactions came thick and fast from those close to Adams Plc. They were on radio rubbishing the book and O’Rawe; they used their own columns in newspapers to debunk his claims; some were emotional; some tried to used “facts”, like the “comms” O’Rawe sent out of the prison during the Hunger Strike to lay the blame for the last 6 deaths elsewhere. All of this is to be expected and is understandable.

So all I got out of it was claim and counter-claim, it was going no-where. The truth was there to be got, but I believed we would never get to the bottom of it, and it was just best to get on with it rather than waste time looking for something I would never find.

As time went past, and I had nearly forgotten all about the book, I happened to find myself in Derry painting a mural to one of the INLA Hunger Strikers, Pasty O’Hara. That Tuesday evening we went to a bar to catch the second part of an RTE documentary about the Hunger Strike, the first part having been shown the previous Tuesday.

O’Rawe was interviewed and repeated his claim about the last 6 the men to die. Nothing new in that, I thought; Morrison was on also, but he said nothing new either. So as I sat watching, I thought, this is getting away from the reason that the men died, and was getting bogged down on these claims. Adams was interviewed and was doing what he does best, stroking his own ego. As the show seemed to lose its way, the people with me were talking away rather than watching the show. Even I was losing interest. Then Adams, in an answer to a question about the “Mountain Climber’s” (the British Government’s go-between to the PML) offer to the Hunger Strikers, said that he did not know about the Mountain Climber until afterwards.

At first I thought I had heard him wrong. I asked had anybody else heard what Adams had just said. No, they all said. Surely I was mistaken in what I heard him say: “BASICALLY I KNEW NOTHING ABOUT THE MOUNTAIN CLIMBER UNTIL AFTERWARDS.”

I knew I had heard him correctly, but couldn’t believe what I was hearing. Everybody who had read Ten Men Dead knew Adams was up to speed on all the doings of the Mountain Climber. Yet here he was on RTE saying that he was unaware of it all. My first thought, after the initial shock, was, why would he say that? Adams is not a foolish person, yet here he was committing himself on national TV to the “fact” that he was unaware of the Mountain Climber.

We were all tired after a long day painting the mural, and after only three pints, we went to our digs and I was soon asleep. When I awoke the next morning I could not think of anything else. Adams knew nothing about the Mountain Climber? Why would he say that? Even when we were working away at the mural, I kept thinking, what was the reason for him denying his role in this part of the Hunger Strike? There was a reason sure enough, but I couldn’t work out why.

Then an incredible thought came to me: what if O’Rawe is telling the truth? Is Adams trying to distance himself from his part in the Hunger Strike because, if it is true, that the last 6 men died for Provisional Sinn Fein’s future plans in politics, that would end his political career over night? His silence is deafening, he should be shouting from the roof tops that O’Rawe is wrong. Yet we hear nothing from the “main player” on the outside of the H-Blocks during the Hunger Strike. You would hear more noise out of a gold fish. Why?

Trying to get proof that Adams knew about the Mountain Climber during this part the Hunger Strike would not be easy. RTE didn’t even try by the looks of it. My first thought was to look up the book Ten Men Dead. In it I found plenty of comms addressed to “Brownie,” and the book claims that this is Adams. On page 37 it states Adams [is] “writing a book, Peace in Ireland, and a regular column under the pen name ‘Brownie’ in Republican News, the weekly journal of Sinn Fein”.

All through the book there are references to Adams as “Brownie”. On page 347, a comm addressed to Brownie from Bik dated July 30, starts “Firstly it was great having a yarn with you last night”, this was in reference to a visit to the Hunger Strikers by Adams, Owen Carron and IRSP representative Seamus Ruddy the previous evening. So it is one of these three; go to the end of the comm, and Bik signs off by asking Brownie “to tell Owen and Seamus it was a pleasure meeting them”. That leaves Adams as Brownie.

Now Brownie is mentioned all the way through the book, Bik must have written to Brownie daily. Adams went into the prison to talk to the Hunger Strikers and Bik. If Adams knew nothing about the Mountain Climber, what were they talking about? Surely it could not have been the British offer/deal as he knew “nothing about it till afterwards”.

Even more interesting is the Danny Morrison column in the Daily Ireland on June 7th, 2006. In his head-long rush to prove O’Rawe was wrong about his claims, he proves Adams is lying about his role in the Hunger Strike. Morrison was allowed into the prison on the 5th of July, before Joe Mc Donnell died, to explain the offer/deal to the Strikers and Bik; as Bik was talking to the Strikers, “Morrison is allowed to phone out from the doctors surgery. Tells ADAMS that prisoners will not take anything on trust…” Why tell Adams anything about the prisoner’s response to an offer/deal Adams knew nothing about? Surely he would have said to Morrison, ‘what offer/deal are you on about?’ Then Morrison goes on to tell us in the same column that “6 July. GERRY ADAMS confides in ICJP about secret contact and the difference in the offers”. Again, what could Adams tell the ICJP about the “secret contact” if he didn’t know about it till afterwards? So Morrison confirms also that Adams is lying about his role in the Hunger Strike.

A number of weeks after the RTE show, the BBC showed one also on the Hunger Strike. Adams was interviewed and, talking about the ending of the first Hunger Strike, says that he and others were reading the Mountain Climbers offer/deal in Clonard Monastery “when, if memory serves me correctly, Tom Hartley came in and said the Hunger Strike is over, they called it off”. So Adams wants us to believe that he was at the heart of things with the Mountain Climber during the first Hunger Strike, but knew nothing “until afterwards” during the second Hunger Strike. Who kept him out of the loop and why? It is obvious that Adams is lying.

Let’s go over some of the points I have made.

Adams says on RTE in the show in May 2006 “that he knew nothing about the Mountain Climber offer/deal until afterwards”.

June 7 2006. Morrison, in his Daily Ireland article, phones Adams from the prison hospital about offer/deal. Also says about Adams’ visit to the ICJP about offer/deal.

June 27. Adams admits on BBC that he was reading Mountain Climber’s offer/deal for ending first Hunger Strike.

June 27. On the same show Adams talks about Mountain Climber during the 2 Hunger Strikes.

Ten Men Dead. As can be seen in the book, “Brownie” was involved in every aspect of the Hunger Strike. If Adams knew nothing about the Mountain Climber, why has he never denied he was “Brownie”?

The question remains why Adams would want to distance himself from his role in the Hunger Strike. Of course, this does not prove O’Rawes claims are true. But it does prove Adams is lying. He was fully aware of the Mountain Climber. So he has reasons to lie. Adams needs to tell, at least the families of the Hunger Strikers, why he is lying about what went on during those first few days in July 1981 when he, and a few others, were in contact with the British. If he does this, he can prove O’Rawe wrong. If not, that, at least, gives O’Rawe the moral high ground in his claim that the last 6 Hunger Strikers were allowed to die by a few people for their own political gains.

It is mind boggling, frightening even. But impossible? You decide. I am off to read O’Rawes book, as I have been told he makes some other claims about people who were in the leadership of the prisoners in the H-Blocks at that time, which if true, will be worth looking into.

Sourced from The Blanket

Category: 2006, Commentary, Media, The Blanket

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SPRING 2013: 55 HOURS
A day-by-day account of the events of early July, 1981.


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