July 1981

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Uncovering the Truth About the 1981 Hunger Strike

Garret had mole among H-Block hunger strikers

Garret had mole among H-Block hunger strikers
By Ian Graham, Evening Herald
Monday September 28 2009

The Government had a mole inside the Maze Prison during the IRA hunger strike of 1981, former Taoiseach Dr Garret FitzGerald revealed today.

Dr FitzGerald said he was convinced a deal between the prisoners and the British government could have been struck to halt the last six of 10 deaths.

But that it was vetoed by the IRA leadership, said the 83-year-old, who revealed the behind-the-scenes activity during a brief window of opportunity which could have saved the hunger strikers’ lives.

There has been deep division within republicanism about the hunger strike since the publication of a book, Blanketmen, by former IRA prisoner Richard O’Rawe, in which he said the Sinn Fein leadership blocked a deal for political purposes.

Sinn Fein always denied the claim, but Dr FitzGerald said: “O’Rawe’s account seems to me to be, within his framework of knowledge, honest and accurate.”

The North’s Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness, who has admitted having being in the IRA, also revealed for the first time that he was one of the conduits for the offer from the British government, but he disputes there was a deal acceptable to the prisoners.

He accused Sinn Fein’s opponents of trying to portray the then Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher as someone anxious to solve the hunger strike when she was what he called “a ruthless, hypocritical enemy”.

Dr FitzGerald, who started the first of his two terms as Taoiseach during the hunger strike, said Maze prisoners were ready to accept a deal if they had been allowed to by Sinn Fein.

“We knew that. We had our sources in the prison,” he said, but refused to say if the mole was a warder or a prisoner.

When Dr FitzGerald came to power, the Catholic Church’s Irish Justice and Peace Commission (IJPC) was working to resolve the stand-off between republicans prisoners in the Maze and the British government over the concession of ‘prisoner-of -war’ status.

The IJPC was granted a meeting with Northern Ireland Office minister Michael Allison, who cleared the way for the IJPC to visit the prisoners. The inmates later issued a statement which was more conciliatory than the messages issued from outside the jail by Sinn Fein.

At that same time Sinn Fein president Gerry Adams was contacted by MI6 and a deal parallel to that of the IJPC was created, said Dr FitzGerald.

“He was delighted the British were running to him and he did get an additional offer to the IJPC offer. It is my recollection that he got an offer [prisoner access] to the Open University which was not in the IJPC offer,” said the former Taoiseach.

Eventually the whole deal collapsed and another six men died before an end was brought to the hunger strike.

Dr FitzGerald added: “If the British had not intervened and brought the IRA back in, a deal could have been done.”

Sourced from The Evening Herald

Category: 2009, Garret FitzGerald, Irish Government, Media, News articles

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  1. […] que nous serinent nos belles âmes depuis près de 30 ans, un ancien premier ministre irlandais confirme que c’était bien l’IRA qui avait délibérément sacrifié au moins six des dix grévistes de […]

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


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