July 1981

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Uncovering the Truth About the 1981 Hunger Strike

Book Review: The Conflict Encapsulated

blanketmen

The Conflict Encapsulated

Blanketmen – An untold story of the H-Block hunger strike
By Richard O’Rawe

Book Review

David Adams • The Other View, August 2005

In Blanketmen, Richard O’Rawe claims the IRA leadership in the Maze Prison was prepared to accept a substantive offer from the British Government that would have brought an early end to the 1981 hunger strike.

Supposedly, that offer was made before a fifth hunger-striker died – Joe McDonnell – but the IRA Army Council overruled the prison leadership and the strike continued.
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Dolours Price: A Salute to Comrades

blanketmen

A Salute to Comrades

Book Review

Dolours Price, The Blanket • 18 May 2005

After reading ‘Ten Men Dead’ I swore that I would never again read about the Hunger Strike of 1981. I cried at every page and my husband eventually hid the book. I bought another.

My levels of sadness rose at the same rate as my levels of anger. The targets for my anger were the usual ones: those identified by the Republican Leadership as responsible for the death of Bobby Sands and his comrades. Top of the list was Margaret Thatcher, then came busybody priests, political opponents, an uncaring Free-State Government and more and more.

Hunger-striking, the last resort of the brutalised political prisoner. The ultimate weapon, one’s own body. As a Republican I have always maintained that just as I could not be ordered to undertake a Hunger-Strike, then the control and ultimate decision as to where that hunger-strike might lead was also a matter for myself, the individual prisoner. That is not to say that guidance from comrades and particularly the leadership of my movement would at all times be of paramount importance in where that Strike would end for me, be that living or dying.
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Dramas out of crises

Dramas out of crises
Two new books offer compelling material to potential dramatists
Henry McDonald
The Observer, Sunday 1 May 2005 02.33 BST

Two hundred and ninety-two years separate the Siege of Derry from the second hunger strike in the Maze. Books out this year concerning these two key events not only shed new light on our history but also provide a challenge for screenwriters and television producers.

Carlo Gebler’s The Siege of Derry is a masterful and meticulously structured account of the 105-day struggle against the besieging Jacobite armies in 1689, while Richard O’Rawe’s Blanketmen gives a painfully honest insider’s view of the 1981 death fast. The one thing the two works have in common is the dramatic tension contained in the narratives, which are full of tragedy, sacrifice, endurance and political opportunism.
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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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Dead Men Talking …

Dead Men Talking …

blanketmenBlanketmen
By Richard O’Rawe
New Island, stg£9.99

Book Review

Maurice Hayes

This is a really gripping book, and an important one too for an understanding of the dynamics both of the 1981 Hunger Strikes and of the rise of Sinn Fein as a political force. It is the first account written by an insider, and it is as near as you will get to hearing dead men talking about their concerns, their dreams and the relentless loyalty to a cause that drives them to their deaths.

Ricky O Rawe was the Communications Officer in the H-Block, and one of only two people in the prison to be fully in the loop between the IRA command and the hunger strikers as they faced death, one after another. The story is told with a stark honesty, which discloses the author’s mental agony at the moral dilemmas he faced then and which have clearly stayed with him since.
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Hunger strike revisited

Hunger strike revisited

Book Review

Daily Ireland

Think you know the story of the 1981 hunger strikes? Think again. We’ve all seen Bobby Sands’ emaciated body, the footage of people honking car horns in glee at his election, that priest comparing conditions to an open sewer in Calcutta. You might even say that Richard O’Rawe’s Blanketmen (New Island), is – whisper it – old news.

All this is playing in the shallow end of a powerful tale. O’Rawe pulls the reader into the deep water till they’re gulping for air.

Rather than the ‘skin and bones’ Bobby Sands, the 2-D icon for a thousand murals, you meet a “man for all seasons”; softly spoken with a flair for sing-songs.
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Hugh Logue: For the cause or caucus (2005 Book Review)

For the cause or caucus
Village
Saturday, 19 March 2005

blanketmenRichard O’Rawe’s book which claims that the six H-Block hunger strikers were allowed to die purely for political expediency is reviewed by Hugh Logue who was part of the team that negotiated to end the hunger strikes
Blanketmen

by Richard O’Rawe
New Island, €13.99

The old adage that troubles come in three will have credence in Sinn Féin. Just when they had hoped that they were emerging from the Robert Mc Cartney murder and the Northern Bank raid, along comes Richard O’Rawe’s Blanketmen to unsettle that holy of holies, the 1981 H-Block hunger strike, during which 10 hunger strikers died. For republicans that is the shrine from which all popular support has flowed in the last twenty years. Prior to it, Sinn Féin was a political fig leaf on a military movement, extremely cynical of electoral participation. O’Rawe’s assertion that six of the hunger strikers were allowed to die to secure the electoral success of Owen Carron in Fermanagh South Tyrone is as unwelcome to Sinn Féin as it will be unsettling for the families of the hunger strikers.

Blanketmen is an important, interesting yet intriguing book. Intriguing, in that in this well written and readable book, there is no acknowledgement of assistance in editing, researching or proofing of the text.
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Book Review: A Must Read

blanketmen

A Must Read

To fully appreciate the controversary surrounding the book, it must be read

BLANKETMEN
An Untold Story of the H-Block Hunger Strike
RICHARD O’RAWE, New Island Press

Book Review

Mick Hall, The Blanket • 18 March 2005

I once asked a former member of the British Army Intelligence Corp if there was any substance in the British Government’s fears if they announced their withdrawal from the Six Counties the Loyalist Paramilitary’s would conduct an OAS* type campaign in England. He replied he could not see this happening, as the Loyalist terror groups, the UDA, LVF and the UVF, unlike the Provisional Irish Republican Army, simply did not have the stamina necessary to conduct a bombing campaign on the British mainland. The book Blanketmen, An Untold Story of the H-block Hunger Strike written by former Blanketman Richard O’Rawe, more than adequately answers the question what gave the Provos such tenacious stamina to fight a thirty odd year war against not only one of the world’s major military powers, but also the most experienced army in combating insurgencies.

I would appeal to all those who have been warned off reading this book by the heavy handed attempt by the Provisional Republican Movement apparatchiks to discredit Richard O’Rawe to place any doubts that may have been raised in their minds about him to one side and make their own mind upon reading the book. By so doing I guarantee they will come away with the belief that the aforementioned attack on O’Rawe was sadly yet another example of the PRM leadership over-reacting and scoring, not for the first time of late, an own goal. After all, if Irish Republicanism means anything, it is an ability to think for ourselves and thus make our own decisions; it is not an accident that soldiers of O’glaigh na hEireann are called Volunteers.
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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.