July 1981

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Uncovering the Truth About the 1981 Hunger Strike

UPDATED: National Archives 30 Year Papers – July, 1981

Note: This was originally published on Slugger O’Toole in 2011, when many of the documents now released individually via the Thatcher Foundation in 2013, were first released by the National Archives as part of the 30 year papers for 1981. New, additional comments have been added at the end of the post and are noted with an asterik***



National Archives 30 Year Papers – July, 1981
Rusty Nail
Slugger O’Toole
Fri 30 December 2011

The 30 year papers for 1981 are being released, and they include many documents covering the hunger strike. Here are some quick notes about file PREM/19/506, which covers the period of the early July offer.

Specifically, this is a quick sketch of pages 13-26 of the PDF, a telegram that comprehensively details the conversations the Mountain Climber/Brendan Duddy (referred to as “SOON”) had with the British Government, in which he was relaying messages from the Provisional IRA. This is the British Government’s notes of their negotiations with the Adams Committee.

The first thing it confirms is that Duddy’s notes were extremely accurate. The telegram detailing “Call No 8 – 0100-0117 6 July” reflects his recently released papers, where in paragraph 41 he relayed that “The Provisionals fully accept the position as stated by the Prisoners” – this sentence was underlined by a reader of the telegram for emphasis.

In Call No 7, 2300-2400, 5 July, paragraph 35, he describes the Provisionals as being extremely unhappy with what they called the “bully boy” tactics of the ICJP: “From an apparently enthusiastic position, SOON (Duddy) had been called into an angry and hostile meeting of the Provisionals almost verging on a complete breakdown. The Provisionals view of the situation is that the prisoners’ statement had been totally ignored by the ICJP”. The call goes onto describe what really seems as an attempt to muddy waters over the ICJP’s participation – in effect, to get the British to pressure the ICJP to back off – though it was delivered in a confused and ham-fisted way. It would also seem that the fact the hunger strikers were listening to the ICJP and that the prisoners had accepted the offer was rattling those doing the negotiating.

Another interesting thing is that the Provos wanted Adams and/or McGuinness to go in with Morrison to see the hunger strikers. When it was made clear that Adams and McGuinness were unacceptable, Ted Howell was then proposed. (paragraph 33, Call No 6, 1750-1817, 5 July)

The most interesting thing about this is the confirmation that the full Army Council was completely in the dark about the Mountain Climber negotiations and offer.

The first call, 2200-2312, 4 July, sets the scene in that regard:

Paragraph 4:

“…the timing of the release of the [prisoners’] statement had caught the Provisionals unaware. The senior members, and SOON claimed there were eight, were widely dispersed. Only Adams and O’Brady were readily available. They were regrouping and SOON’s Provisional contact had instructed him to stand by.”

Paragraph 6: “… secondly he stated that a meeting of the senior Provisionals had taken place on 28 June at which they considered realistic conditions for the ending of the hunger strike had been discussed.” (This was before the contact with the Mountain Climber/SOON was revived)

In Call No 2, 0230-0500, 5 July, paragraph 10: “SOON began by restating the Provisionals’ disorganised position. He pointed out that to take a decision of this magnitude required the presence of all 8 members. They would be unwilling to take any decision without a full complement.”

Was that a genuine position or a delaying tactic?

It is later that morning, during Call No 3, 1045-1125, 5 July, the fact that the full Army Council were unaware of what was being done is made clear:

Paragraph 15:

“He then returned to the subject of the prison visit. He said that the number of senior Provisionals with a full grasp of the situation including knowledge of the SOON channel and the status to enable them to act authoritatively was very limited. He said that if the key to accepting any agreement was persuation [sic], education and knowledge, then that is not available outside the very upper echelons of the Provisional Movement. It is not even available as of right to the entire PSF leadership. He said this poses a problem. In response to our request for suggestions of Provisionals who would fit this description, SOON produced Morrison, Adams and McGuinness as the only three candidates.”

Paragraph 16:

“SOON (Duddy) then proceeded to offer the Provisionals’ view of the ICJP. He said that determination still existed not to let the ICJP act as mediator. As a consequence, there was a body of opinion within the Provisional leadership, which was unaware of the SOON channel and, therefore, took a destructive view towards any current proposals since they believed they would involve the ICJP.”

One other aspect of this important document is amazing. It describes the ending of the first hunger strike:

Call No 2, 0230-0550 5 July, Paragraph 13:

“He said that one of the major difficulties over the implementation of the agreement at the end of the last hunger strike had been the attitude of some of the prison officers. He said that the Provisionals believed that HMG had been sincere in trying to implement their side of the agreement. The breakdown had occurred because some of the prisoners had been harassed by some of the prison officers. He, therefore, requested that in HMG’s proposals should be included an instruction to the Governor of the prison to encourage flexibility in the implementation of any agreement.” (emphasis mine)

Owen Bowcott, writing in today’s Guardian, has Danny Morrison’s reaction to the papers:

[Morrison] told the Guardian the documents vindicated the IRA’s decisions at the time. “I find these documents very refreshing,” he said. “At least they have published what was happening. These conversations were recorded by Michael Oatley [the MI6 officer] or his secretary. We never got the final [British] position [before hunger striker] Joe O’Donnell died.” [***SEE BELOW FOR FURTHER COMMENT, ADDED 2013]

Recall ‘it was not the content of the message which they had objected to but only its tone’:

“[…] As far as I remember the delay on that was actually getting final agreement to the text of what might be said, which was not easy, and in the event McDonnell died before that process could be completed and of course thereafter it collapsed.” – 1986 John Blelloch interview with author Padraig O’Malley

As Gerry Adams described in Before the Dawn, page 299:

“Very early one morning I and another member of our committee were in mid-discussion with the British in a living room in a house in Andersonstown when, all of a sudden, they cut the conversation, which we thought was quite strange. Then, later, when we turned on the first news broadcast of the morning, we heard that Joe McDonnell was dead. Obviously they had cut the conversation when they got the word. They had misjudged the timing of their negotiations, and Joe had died much earlier than they had anticipated.”


*** FURTHER COMMENT ADDED, SPRING 2013:

The release via the Thatcher Foundation of itemised archival documents contains material that starkly contradicts Morrison’s 2011 claim that “We never got the final [British] position [before hunger striker] Joe O’Donnell died.”

In 2009, journalist Liam Clarke gained access to documents via a Freedom of Information request. Part of what was released to Clarke was an “EXTRACT FROM A LETTER DATED 8 JULY 1981 FROM 10 DOWNING STREET TO THE NORTHERN IRELAND OFFICE”, which also included an EXTRACT FROM A TELEGRAM sent from the NIO to the Cabinet. The significance of these extracts are fully understood with the release of the full documents, which now only has names redacted.




DOWNLOAD PDF: STATEMENT IMPORTANT


Comparing the 2009 release with the 2011 document, it is obvious this paragraph had been previously redacted:

NAME REDACTED said it was thought that the revised statement based upon the previous night’s message would be enough to get the PIRA to instruct the prisoners to call off the hunger strike. He then outlined the procedures that would be followed, if the PIRA said that they would call off the hunger strike. [emphasis added]

One can only speculate why that paragraph was censored in the 2009 FOI release. Was it too damning?

The statement referred to is included in this document and was released in 2009. It gives clothes; letters, parcels, and visits; restoration of remission; work and education, and allows for room on association and segregation. In other words, the hunger strikers had won their demands.

We know from the 2009 release of the extract of this telegram that, contrary to what Danny Morrison told Owen Bowcott in 2011, Adams did know “the final [British] position [before hunger striker] Joe O’Donnell died.”

The statement has now been read and we await provo reactions (we would be willing to allow them a sight of the document just before it is given to the prisoners and released to the press).

Why did Adams say no?


Abbreviated Timeline:

5th July

  • Morrison goes into prison, tells McFarlane of offer from Thatcher, which McFarlane and O’Rawe agree is enough to accept
  • Morrison does not tell hunger strikers details of the offer; he only tells them that they were in talks with the British and that the ICJP could mess things up (warns the hunger strikers off accepting anything the ICJP offers)

6 July

  • (afternoon) Adams comm tells McFarlane and O’Rawe that “more was needed” – offer rejected.
  • (late evening) Morrison tells ICJP that the Adams group contacts with the British were continuing through the night.
  • 11:30pm – “The British Gov. is preparing to issue a statement only if there is an immediate end to the hunger strike.
    (A) Prison reg. in Armagh would become general in NI prison ie civian clothing
    B Visits as for conforming prisons ” – Brendan Duddy notes

7 July

  • “On Tuesday afternoon, Gerry Adams rang [the ICJP] to say that the British had now made an offer but that it was not enough.” – Garret Fitzgerald 
  • “Your Secretary of State said that the message which the Prime Minister had approved the previous evening had been communicated to the PIRA. Their response indicated that they did not regard it as satisfactory and that they wanted a good deal more. That appeared to mark the end of the development, and we had made this clear to the PIRA during the afternoon. This had produced a very rapid reaction which suggested that it was not the content of the message which they had objected to but only its tone.”
  • 4pm: NIO tells ICJP that an official will be going in but that the document was still being drafted.” – Danny Morrison 
  • “At one point, David Wyatt, a senior NIO official who had sat in on most of the discussions, rang to explain the delay: a lot of redrafting was going on and it had to be cleared with London.” – Padraig O’Malley: Biting at the Grave, pg 97 
  • British send draft statement to Adams group enlarging on previous offer; if accepted by Adams, statement issued immediately
  • British believed this revised statement “would be enough to get the PIRA to instruct the prisoners to call off the hunger strike”
  • 10pm

    “…I don’t know if you’ve thought on this line, but I have been thinking that if we don’t pull this off and Joe dies then the RA are going to come under some bad stick from all quarters. Everyone is crying the place down that a settlement is there and those Commission chappies are convinced that they have breached Brit principles. Anyway we’ll sit tight and see what comes…” – Comm to Brownie (Adams) from Bik (McFarlane)

  • Confirmation via telegram from NIO that the statement had been read to Adams group, and that they were awaiting the reply

8 July 

  • “Very early one morning I and another member of our committee were in mid-discussion with the British in a living room in a house in Andersonstown when, all of a sudden, they cut the conversation, which we thought was quite strange. Then, later, when we turned on the first news broadcast of the morning, we heard that Joe McDonnell was dead.” – Gerry Adams, Before the Dawn, page 299

 



Click for Full timeline

See also: Prolonging the Hunger Strike: The Derailing of the ICJP


“Rusty Nail”: The Smoking Gun

See also: Mountain Climber Notes + Timeline

23 November, 2011

The Smoking Gun
“Rusty Nail” at Slugger O’Toole

Four documents – 2 double sided pages  – have been made available from NUI Galway’s Brendan Duddy archives that are relevant to the Mountain Climber/Thatcher offer of early July, 1981. They are Brendan Duddy’s notes of the messages he was ferrying between the Adams Committee and the British Government. The first two pages are dated the 5th and 6th of July; the last two pages are undated but relate to the ongoing negotiation; they detail the offer being discussed. The notes are supported byBritish Government documents obtained by journalist Liam Clarke under a Freedom of Information request. Interested readers can compare the information in all these documents against an expanded timeline of events that has been previously documented.

On the 4th of July, the prisoners released a statement that freed the British to make an offer, by suggesting that any prison reforms be extended to all prisoners. This resulted in the Mountain Climber, Brendan Duddy, contacting the Adams Committee. The British were making an offer that meant the prisoners would get their own clothes “after lunch tomorrow and before the afternoon visit”.

According to Duddy’s notes, this offer included:

Send on 5 of July Clothes = after lunch Tomorrow and before the the afternoon visit  as a man is given his clothes  He clears out his own cell pending the resolution of the work issue which will be worked out  [garbled] as soon as the clothes are and no later than 1 month. Visits = [garbled] on Tuesday. Hunger strikers + some others H.S. to end 4 hrs after clothes + work has been resolved.

DOCUMENT 1:

Send on 5 of July
Clothes = after lunch
Tomorrow
and before the the afternoon visit
as a man is given his clothes
He clears out his own cell pending the resolution of the work issue which will be worked out [garbled] as soon as the clothes are and no later than 1 month.
Visits = [garbled] on Tuesday. Hunger strikers + some others
H.S. to end 4 hrs after clothes + work has been resolved.

The morning of the 5th of July, Danny Morrison first visited the hunger strikers, telling them nothing of the Mountain Climber offer – only that there was contact, and that the ICJP must be resisted as they could “make a mess of it, that they could be settling for less than what they had the potential for achieving.” (Biting at the Grave, pg 96.)

The sequence is described by Morrison: “After exchanges, Mountain Climber’s offer (concessions in relation to aspects of the five demands) goes further than ICJP’s understanding of government position. Sinn Fein’s Danny Morrison secretly visits hunger strikers. Separately, he meets prison OC Brendan McFarlane, explains what Mountain Climber is offering should hunger strike be terminated. McFarlane meets hunger strikers.”

After Morrison privately relayed the British offer to Bik McFarlane, McFarlane discussed it with Richard O’Rawe. Both agreed there was enough there to accept. Bik McFarlane speaking to Brian Rowan said: “And I said to Richard (O’Rawe) this is amazing, this is a huge opportunity and I feel there’s a potential here (in the Mountain Climber process) to end this.”

O’Rawe told the Irish News, “I said, ‘Ta go leor ann’ – There’s enough there. He (McFarlane) said, ‘Aontaim leat, scriobhfaidh me chun taoibh amiugh agus cuirfidh me fhois orthu’ – I agree with you, I will write to the outside and let them know.”

DOCUMENT 2:
Key:
S.S. = Shop Steward – code for the Adams Committee which included Gerry Adams, Danny Morrison, Tom Hartley, Jim Gibney and Martin McGuinness
Union Membership or The Workers = the prisoners, as represented by Bik McFarlane (OC) and Richard O’Rawe (PRO)
The Management = The British Government (Thatcher)

“The Mountain Climber messages were being sent in a crudely coded form, apparently because the Foreign Office was concerned that the phone line they were using into the north might be tapped by the local security forces: the negotiations were being couched in the form of exchanges over an industrial dispute, prisoners being referred to as ‘the workers’, the external leadership of the IRA as ‘the shop stewards’ and the British Government as ‘management’.”
– Ten Men Dead, pg 325

“The coded terminology used in the communications between the Army Council and the British reflected the class system. The British were called ‘the management’ and the Army Council were the ‘shop stewards’ and the prisoners were ‘the workers’. I didn’t know about this terminology until years later, but when I did, I couldn’t help but remember something my father used to say: “The workers always get shafted.””
– Blanketmen, pg 174; for Army Council see: Afterlives, pgs 78-82

The Smoking Gun

 

The S.S. fully accept the posal — as stated by the Union MemBship
And that is the only Basis for a successful draft proposal by the Management.
It is essential that a copy of the draft be in the S.S. hands Before it is made public.
To enable the S.S. to apr – up
or to point out any difficulty before publication
If it is pub. without prior sight and agreement the S.S. would have to disapprove it.
Monday Morning
July 6th.
————————————–
————————————–
Reply 11:30 PM July 6

The British Gov. is preparing to issue a statement only if there is an immediate end to the hunger strike.
(A) Prison reg. in Armagh would become general in NI prison ie civian clothing
B Visits as for conforming prisons
C Re. as stated on June 30 by Sec of State

“As the situation moved beyond our control, it became evident that the real power in the republican movement was asserting its authority. This time, the ‘shop stewards’, not the ‘management’ had consigned the prison leadership to the role of the ‘workers’ in the general scheme of things, and the ‘shop stewards’ and the ‘management’ were going to work things out – no matter what the ‘workers’ thought.”
– Blanketmen, pg 186.

This is the smoking gun; the proof that the prison leadership – McFarlane and O’Rawe – were told of Thatcher’s offer, they agreed to accept it, and sent word out of that acceptance. The proof their acceptance was over-ruled by those handling the negotiations on the outside, the Adams Committee, who claimed more was needed.

The notes show the prisoners got their clothes; they would have had them immediately. Their visits would have begun on the 7th of July, before Joe McDonnell died. Work was agreed to, and education recognised as work. Free association was rendered a moot point by obtaining segregation. Letters and parcels would resume, to start on the 13 of July – the day of Martin Hurson’s death. Remission was not going to be an insurmountable issue.

THIS WAS ACCEPTED BY THE PRISONERS. The acceptance by O’Rawe and McFarlane was overheard by other prisoners and it is reflected in Duddy’s notes. Duddy’s notes are also reinforced by the British Government’s record.

The British, according to their own contemporaneous documents, were genuine, and willing to comply with the “Shop Steward’s” demand to have access to a draft statement of the proposal before it was made public:

“The statement has now been read and we await provo reactions (we would be willing to allow them a sight of the document just before it is given to the prisoners and released to the press).”

All that was needed was for the Adams Committee to accept the proposal as the prison leadership had expressed. The hunger strike would have ended, with enough of the 5 demands granted, before the death of Joe McDonnell, before the deaths of six hunger strikers. The prisoners could have been wearing their own clothes the day before Joe McDonnell died.

The Adams Committee said, “No.” And the hunger strikers continued to die.

 

NOTES: Details of the proposal as noted by the Mountain Climber, Brendan Duddy, with documents from the British confirming the sequencing, and the draft statement that would have ended the hunger strike on terms agreed by the prison leadership had the Adams Committee not rejected it.

DOCUMENT 3
Details noted
5 demands

clothes work
assoc. visits
letters re – XX
————————————–
Clothes at 12
Visits on Tues. [Note: Tues, July 7, re Document 1]
Parcels Next Monday
Work over 1 month
Full remission
————————————–

clothes = letters = visits
Immediately
New Gov. Plus to be decider
Cunningham as Gov
Plus
Work = Each wing to decide a rota with prison staff
A good order
Association realistic with good prison discipline within each wing xxxx
————————————–
No Will
Strike goes on
[Note: Written in pen over ‘No Will Strike Goes On’]
Prison work will vary between cell and block maintenance, in the futherest of educational subjects, ie open university, toy making for charities and building projects: ove
[Note: this is clarified on the back of the page/Document 4]

————————————–
Sincere = YES
————————————–
If they work and conform
5/6 working
2 not working
H
Freedom of M
on the Each Wing P.O. would maint. the unrestricted control of supervision

DOCUMENT 4:
 

 

Freedom of Movement would be permitted within each wing. Prison officer would maintain the total control of supervision during these periods:
Prison work will vary between Cell and Block maintenance, educational, cultural subjects ie Open University, toy making for charities. Building projects, ie New Church. Prison officers would maintain

 

EXTRACT FROM A TELEGRAM FROM THE NORTHERN IRELAND OFFICE TO THE CABINET OFFICE

PLEASE PASS FOLLOWING TO MR WOODFIELD

MIPT contains the text of a statement which SOSNI proposes to authorise should be released to the hunger-strikers/prisoners and publicly. The statement contains, except on clothing, nothing of substance which has not been said publicly, and the point on clothing was made privately to the provos on 5 July. The purpose of the statement is simply to give precise clarification to formulae which already exist. It also takes count of advice given to us over the last 12 hours on the kind of language which (while not a variance with any of our previous public statements) might make the statement acceptable to the provos.

The statement has now been read and we await provo reactions (we would be willing to allow them a sight of the document just before it is given to the prisoners and released to the press). It has been made clear (as the draft itself states) that it is not a basis for negotiation.

 

[Note: As the extract is describing a meeting that took place shortly after midnight on the 8th of July, it refers to the negotiations described in Duddy’s notes – namely, the back and forth between the 5th and 7th of July]
EXTRACT FROM A LETTER DATED 8 JULY 1981 FROM 10 DOWNING STREET TO THE NORTHERN IRELAND OFFICE

The Prime Minister met your Secretary of State at 0015 this morning to discuss the latest developments in the efforts to bring the hunger strike in the Maze to an end. Philip Woodfield was also present.

Your Secretary of State said that the message which the Prime Minister had approved the previous evening had been communicated to the PIRA. Their response indicated that they did not regard it as satisfactory and that they wanted a good deal more. That appeared to mark the end of the development, and we had made this clear to the PIRA during the afternoon. This had produced a very rapid reaction which suggested that it was not the content of the message which they had objected to but only its tone. The question now for decision was whether we should respond on our side. He had concluded that we should communicate with the PIRA over night a draft statement enlarging upon the substance of the previous evening but in no way whatever departing from its substance. If the PIRA accepted the draft statement and ordered the hunger strikers to end their protest the statement would be issued immediately. If they did not, this statement would not be put out but instead an alternative statement reiterating the Government’s position as he had set it out in his statement of 30 June and responding to the discussions with the Irish Commission for Justice and Peace would be issued. If there was any leak about the process of communication with the PIRA, his office would deny it.

The meeting then considered the revised draft statement which was to be communicated to the PIRA. A number of amendments were made, primarily with a view to removing any suggestion at all the Government was in a negotiation. A copy of the agreed version of the statement is attached.

The Prime Minister, summing up the discussion, said that the statement should now be communicated to the PIRA as your Secretary of State proposed. If it did not produce a response leading to the end of the hunger strike, Mr Atkins should issue at once a statement reaffirming the Government’s existing position as he had set out on 30 June.

Statement by the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland

1. In the light of discussions which Mr Michael Alison has had recently with the Irish Commission for Justice and Peace, during which a statement was issued on 4 July on behalf of the protesting prisoners in the Maze Prison, HMG have come to the following conclusions.

2. When the hunger strike and the protest is brought to an end (and not before), the Government will:
I. extend to all male prisoners in Northern Ireland the clothing regime at present available to female prisoners in Armagh Prison (i.e. subject to the prison governor’s approval);
II. make available to all prisoners in Northern Ireland the allowance of letters, parcels and visits at present available to conforming prisoners;
III. allow the restoration of forfeited remission at the discretion of the responsible disciplinary authority, as indicated in my statement of 30 June, which hitherto has meant the restoration of up to one-fifth of remission lost subject to a satisfactory period of good behaviour;
IV. ensure that a substantial part of the work will consist of domestic tasks inside and outside the wings necessary for servicing of the prison (such as cleaning and in the laundries and kitchens), constructive work, e.g. on building projects or making toys for charitable bodies, and study for Open University or other courses. The prison authorities will be responsible for supervision. The aim of the authorities will be that prisoners should do the kinds of work for which they are suited, but this will not always be possible and the authorities will retain responsibility for decisions about allocation.

3. Little advance is possible on association. It will be permitted within each wing, under supervision of the prison staff.

4. Protesting prisoners have been segregated from the rest. Other prisoners are not segregated by religious or any other affiliation. If there were no protest the only reason for segregating some prisoners from others would be the judgment of the prison authorities, not the prisoners, that this was the best way to avoid trouble between groups.

5. This statement is not a negotiating position. But it is further evidence of the Government’s desire to maintain and where possible to improve a humanitarian regime in the prisons. The Government earnestly hopes that the hunger strikers and the other protesters will cease their protest.

Sourced from Slugger O’Toole

 

See also: Mountain Climber Notes + Timeline

 

 

 

Mountain Climber Notes

Send on 5 of July
TRANSCRIPTION:
Send on 5 of July
Clothes = after lunch
Tomorrow
and before the the afternoon visit
as a man is given his clothes
He clears out his own cell pending the resolution of the work issue which will be worked out [garbled] as soon as the clothes are and no later than 1 month.
Visits = [garbled] on Tuesday. Hunger strikers + some others
H.S. to end 4 hrs after clothes + work has been resolved.


The Smoking Gun
TRANSCRIPTION:
The S.S. fully accept the posal — as stated by the Union MemBship
And that is the only Basis for a successful draft proposal by the Management.
It is essential that a copy of the draft be in the S.S. hands Before it is made public.
To enable the S.S. to apr – up
or to point out any difficulty before publication
If it is pub. without prior sight and agreement the S.S. would have to disapprove it.
Monday Morning
July 6th.
————————————–
————————————–
Reply 11:30 PM July 6

The British Gov. is preparing to issue a statement only if there is an immediate end to the hunger strike.
(A) Prison reg. in Armagh would become general in NI prison ie civian clothing
B Visits as for conforming prisons
C Re. as stated on June 30 by Sec of State


Details noted
TRANSCRIPTION:
5 demands

clothes work
assoc. visits
letters re – XX
————————————–
Clothes at 12
Visits on Tues. [Note: Tues, July 7, re Document 1]
Parcels Next Monday
Work over 1 month
Full remission
————————————–

clothes = letters = visits
Immediately
New Gov. Plus to be decider
Cunningham as Gov
Plus
Work = Each wing to decide a rota with prison staff
A good order
Association realistic with good prison discipline within each wing xxxx
————————————–
No Will
Strike goes on
[Note: Written in pen over ‘No Will Strike Goes On’]
Prison work will vary between cell and block maintenance, in the futherest of educational subjects, ie open university, toy making for charities and building projects: ove
[Note: this is clarified on the back of the page/Document 4]

————————————–
Sincere = YES
————————————–
If they work and conform
5/6 working
2 not working
H
Freedom of M
on the Each Wing P.O. would maint. the unrestricted control of supervision



TRANSCRIPTION:
Freedom of Movement would be permitted within each wing. Prison officer would maintain the total control of supervision during these periods:
Prison work will vary between Cell and Block maintenance, educational, cultural subjects ie Open University, toy making for charities. Building projects, ie New Church. Prison officers would maintain

Sourced from NUI Galway

Press Release: Unseen Documents Unveiled during Launch of Duddy Archive at NUI Galway

Press Release: Unseen Documents Unveiled during Launch of Duddy Archive at NUI Galway

Tuesday, 22 November 2011

Documents highlighting the secrecy and tension involved in communication and negotiation between the British government and the IRA throughout ‘the Troubles’ were today (Tuesday, 22 November) unveiled in NUI Galway at the launch of the Brendan Duddy Archive on campus.

The selected documents include Brendan Duddy’s hand written records of negotiations during the hunger strike and a letter from the IRA to the British Prime Minister Harold Wilson.

Speaking at the launch and on behalf of the Duddy family, Larry Duddy, said: “The family are delighted that the private papers have been donated to NUI Galway. They hope that analysis of these papers will assist current and future generations to understand however complex and how ever long a conflict has gone on with the dedication and commitment shown by Brendan Duddy a resolution can always be found.”

The symposium Negotiating Peace, organised in association with the launch of the private papers of Brendan Duddy, brought together prominent figures from the worlds of academia and diplomacy to explore key questions surrounding the negotiated settlement of violent conflicts, drawing in particular on the experience of negotiation in the Irish peace process.

Symposium speakers inlcuded Seán Ó hUiginn, former senior Irish diplomat who was deeply involved in the Irish government contribution to the peace process; former senior British government official Michael Oatley, a key British official involved in back-channel communication with the Republican leadership over many years; and Professor Paul Arthur, Honorary Associate at the International Conflict Research Centre (INCORE), former Professor of Politics and Director of the Graduate Programme in Peace and Conflict Studies at the University of Ulster.

Speaking at NUI Galway, Michael Oatley emphasised the need to understand and differentiate between the motivation for differing instances of political violence, and the importance of seeking to establish dialogue. He applauded Brendan Duddy’s work as an extraordinary example of what could be achieved by a brave and determined private individual.

The archive holds documents from the three main periods during which Brendan Duddy secretly acted as an intermediary between the British government and the IRA. The first was in the early and mid 1970s when Duddy acted as intermediary during a series of contacts over the release of hostages and the ending of hunger strikes. This contact culminated in the long IRA ceasefire of 1975 during which British government and Provisional Republican representatives held a series of formal meetings in Duddy’s house in Derry. The archive includes his diaries of negotiation in 1975 and 1976 as well as many handwritten and typed messages exchanged between the two sides.

In 1980 and 1981 Duddy acted again as intermediary during the Republican hunger strikes. In July 1981 he began to record these contacts, conducted mainly by telephone, in a red hardbound notebook, the ‘Red book’. The handwritten formal messages that were dictated to Duddy over the phone are interspersed with sparse personal comments and notations indicating how these contacts sometimes stretched through the night and indicating the intensity of the tensions at this negotiating intersection.

Between 1990 and 1993 Duddy was again active at this intersection after a new Northern Ireland Secretary of State, Sir Peter Brooke, made the decision to try to incorporate the Provisionals in a political settlement, an effort continued by his successor Sir Patrick Mayhew. Duddy was called upon again to take up the role of intermediary and his archive includes the messages passed between the two sides as well as his own contemporary ‘narrative’ of the intense contacts of 1993.

Dr Niall Ó Dochartaigh, Lecturer in Politics at NUI Galway explained: “These papers add significantly to our understanding of this crucial interface between the British state and the IRA. The papers show Brendan Duddy’s persistence and determination in pursuing the goal of a peace settlement and an end to the violence over a period of decades.”

Deposited at NUI Galway in 2009, the archive contains over 700 descriptive items of paper and sound archives which have been catalogued by the Library’s Special Collections staff and will be available to scholars and bona fide researchers from January 2012. The archive includes coded diaries of contact as well as messages exchanged between the British Government and the Provisional Republican leadership.

The Duddy papers are directly related to the papers of Ruairí Ó Brádaigh, former President of Sinn Féin, which are also held in the James Hardiman Library at NUI Galway. Together these archives constitute one of the most important sources for understanding the attempts to resolve conflict in Ireland that culminated in the Good Friday Agreement of 1998.

President of NUI Galway, Dr Jim Browne, said: “We all remember the horror of so much of the news emanating from Northern Ireland throughout the 1970s, ’80s and ’90s. All through that difficult period Brendan Duddy maintained a steadfast conviction that the conflict could only be ended through a negotiated settlement. I would like to take this opportunity to thank him for that steadfast commitment to peace. I would especially like to thank him, on behalf of NUI Galway, for making his Archive available to scholarship, so that others might be inspired and encouraged in the unrelenting work of peace-building, in similar situations internationally.”

Research on the papers involves collaboration between NUI Galway’s School of Political Science and Sociology and the University of Ulster’s International Conflict Research Centre (INCORE) and both institutions will collaborate to make a selection of primary documents from the collection freely available online through CAIN (the University of Ulster¹s Conflict Archive on the Internet) and NUI Galway’s library website.

John Cox, Librarian at NUI Galway: “Clearly this is a collection with huge research potential and I can see us welcoming scholars from far and wide to Galway to work on the archive.”

The donation will be held in the James Hardiman Library at NUI Galway, home to a range of theatre, literary, historical and political archives. Collections include the archives of the Druid and Lyric Players theatres and of Taibhdhearc na Gaillimhe; the literary papers of John McGahern and Thomas Kilroy; the Huston Archive and original documents relating to the foundation of the Gaelic Athletic Association and the Northern Ireland ‘Troubles’.

ENDS
Keywords: NUI Galway Brendan Duddy IRA Archive
Author: Marketing and Communications Office, NUI Galway

“LETTER TO PRESS – EVERYONE RECOGNISES THAT, REPUBLICAN P.R.O. H-BLOCKS”

NOTE: This is the comm referred to by Brendan ‘Bik’ McFarlane in 2010 and Danny Morrison in 2006.

Letter to Press

Letter to Press, click to enlarge

Letter to Press, page 2

Letter to Press, page 2, click to enlarge

Letter to Press, H Block Committee

Letter to Press, H Block Committee, click to enlarge

Letter to Press, H Block Committee

Letter to Press, H Block Committee, page 2, click to enlarge

Letter to Press, H Block Committee

Letter to Press, H Block Committee, page 3, click to enlarge

Letter to Press, H Block Committee

Letter to Press, H Block Committee, last page, click to enlarge

Sentinel: Never-before-seen 1981 hunger strike documents disclosed

Never-before-seen 1981 hunger strike documents disclosed
01 September 2010
By William Allen
Londonderry Sentinel

DOCUMENTS kept secret since 1981 have revealed a fascinating picture of how Margaret Thatcher’s Government dealt with the IRA hunger strike.

The documents released by the Northern Ireland Office show how the Government was determined to maintain a firm stance in public while trying to come to an arrangement that the IRA would agree to through secret contacts.

The request for the documents was made under the Freedom of Information Act by the Sentinel amid claims that several of the hunger strikers were sacrificed to boost the republican movement’s electoral strategy and that an acceptable offer was made but the hunger strikers were not told by the IRA.

The papers, released 15 months after being requested, show the Government was working on a number of levels, with organisations such as the Irish Commission for Justice and Peace (ICJP), while also using a secret conduit directly to the IRA – believed to be the Mountain Climber initiative.

Taken at face value, there is no evidence on whether protestors wanted to agree a deal but were over-ruled by IRA leaders. But the documents do show offers were made secretly to the IRA rather than directly to the hunger strikers, and illustrate the central role played by Brendan McFarlane, the Provisional IRA leader in the jail.

Chance to clarify

And they also show that, less than two weeks before the death of Dungiven INLA man, Kevin Lynch, the hunger strikers were offered a chance to clarify the latest position in front of relatives and clergy, but the prisoners’ insistence that they would only meet in McFarlane’s presence was rejected by the Northern Ireland Office officials, who saw him as intransigent.

The 32 newly released documents, combined with a number that were previously released, offer an amazing insight into the Government’s dealings with a range of agencies, including the Dublin Government, Irish Commission for Justice and Peace, the Vatican, and Catholic Church leaders in England as well as Ireland. They also show how the Government was involved in backdoor approaches and attempts to find a formula and form of words that would allow a solution to be choreographed – a forerunner to the way the Peace Process unfolded in the 1990s.

The documents show that the Government consistently believed the prisoners were acting under orders and that McFarlane would not consider anything short of negotiating the “five demands”.

These demands were: the right not to wear a prison uniform; the right not to do prison work; the right of free association with other prisoners, and to organise educational and recreational pursuits; the right to one visit, one letter and one parcel per week; full restoration of remission lost through the protest.

The documents show how the Government’s position shifted from its early belief that it was involved in a stand-off that there could be no compromise on, though it was consistent in demanding an end to the protest before any public moves would be made on its part. And it showed how the Government believed it was also fighting a propaganda battle.

Holy See

A telegram to the Holy See in April 1981 insists that the Government could not back down and regretted that the Pope’s personal plea to the hunger strikers to end the protest failed.

As the death of the first hunger striker, Bobby Sands drew near, a telegram to the NIO mentioned talks with an Irish government representative, saying that: “Nally agreed that while there was a concern in the south over the consequences of Sand’s death, support for the hunger strikers was very limited. However, Sand’s death, particularly if followed by Hughes, could change things.”

The documents show that a press release had been prepared before Sands died, with the time and date, and the number of days he had refused food to be inserted after his death.
But the hardline, public approach was not being followed through in private by July.

An extract from a letter – previously released to the Sunday Times – dated July 8, from 10 Downing Street to the NIO said the PM had met the Secretary of State Humphrey Atkins after the message that the PM had approved had been communicated to the Provisional IRA. It said the IRA originally did not regard it as satisfactory but when it was made clear that this ended the initiative, this “had produced a rapid reaction which suggested that it was not the content of the message which they had objected to but only its tone”.

The Secretary of State, “had concluded that we should communicate with the PIRA over night a draft statement enlarging upon the message of the previous evening but in no way whatever departing from its substance. If the PIRA accepted the draft statement and ordered the hunger strikers to end their protest the statement would be issued immediately. If they did not, this statement would not be put out but instead an alternative statement reiterating the Government’s position as he had set it out in his statement of 30 June and responding to the discussions with the Irish Commission for Justice and Peace would be issued. If there was any leak about the process of communication with PIRA, his office would deny it.”

Documents show the Government took advice from experts on what way a statement could be worded so that the IRA would accept it.

A later telegram from the NIO said a statement had been read adding: “we await provo reactions (we would be willing to allow them a sight of the document just before it is given to the prisoners and released to the press). It has been made clear (as the draft itself states) that it is not a basis for negotiation.”

Communications between the Secretary of State’s office and the ICJP, including one on July 6, suggest the body believed a statement “together with clarifications received” encouraged it to continue its efforts, with the NIO saying it did not want the public to know yet about a letter to the ICJP, as “public knowledge of the fact that they have had a letter will bring immediate pressure on us and them to disclose the contents – just now this might not be helpful”. It added the ICJP had been told it would have to become public at some point, otherwise the Government would be accused of “secret deals” but that the timing and terms of the release would need to be agreed.

The clarifications included issues like association, prison work, remission and clothing.

Another document records a statement read to prisoners from the Secretary of State, who said no moves could be made under the duress of a hunger strike but “making sure that the protestors were aware of what was available”.

It said: “Little expansion of association was contemplated but the suggestion of association of adjacent wings (made by the ICJP) was taken on board. On clothing the ‘possibility of further development’ had not been ruled out. On work, no-one would be excluded but the commitment was given to add to the range of activities, including examination of the ICJP’s suggestions. No more than the existing 1/5 restoration of lost remission to ex-protestors was promised.”

It says there was no reaction shown from the prisoners though Michael Devine and Thomas McElwee asked if officials could come and discuss the document after they had read it.
It added: “The prisoners were given an opportunity to discuss the document among themselves and also saw McFarlane for a time. Lynch and Doherty – the 2 most determined strikers – said afterwards that there was nothing in it for them.”

The undated document carries details of an IRA statement said to have been smuggled from the prison on July 8, saying that Joe McDonnell need not have died and describing Mr Atkins’ statement that day as “ambiguous and self-gratifying”.

A telegram sent by Lord Carrington on July 15 said that Mr Atkins had given instructions that a NIO official should go to the Maze to explain the Government’s “ICRC” (International Committee of the Red Cross) initiative to the hunger-strikers, and answer any questions about Mr Atkins’ statement of July 8.

A note dated July 16, says that Mr (John) Blelloch had been in to see the hunger strikers on July 15: “All 8 were there. Doherty could not read but appeared to comprehend generally. The Governor delivered the statement. The strikers listened closely…

“The prisoners then asked to see McFarlane. The Governor agreed to a limited session. Mr Blelloch asked the prisoners if they had reflected on the SoS’s statement of 8 July. They said they had and had one or two points; but they didn’t pursue this and seemed much more interested in ICRC.

“The Governor and Mr Blelloch then left and McFarlane was fetched. The Governor’s ‘feel’ was that the atmosphere was one of ‘deathly calm’. They realized the seriousness of their situation but were unlikely to act without PSF orders. They would probably decide nothing that night but want to hear the radio and possibly receive “messages” via visitors.

“At 8.45pm Mr Blelloch phoned to say that McFarlane had returned to his cell and the hunger-strikers had dispersed without requesting a further meeting.”

Secret channel

Another (previously released) document shows that Margaret Thatcher wanted to make another approach to the IRA through the secret channel but changed her mind after it was put to her that there was a risk of the offer becoming public.

A letter dated July 18 from Downing Street to the NIO said that Philip Woodfield had come to brief the PM on the situation and that after the latest IRA statement Mr Atkins felt the need to respond either with a statement or by sending in an official to clarify the position again.

“The official would set out to the hunger strikers what would be on offer if they abandoned their protest. He would do so along the lines discussed with the Prime Minister last week. He would say that the prisoners would be allowed their own clothes, as was already the case in Armagh prison, provided these clothes were approved by the prison authorities. (This would apply in all prisons in Northern Ireland).

“He would set out the position on association; on parcels and letters; on remission; and on work. On this last point he would make it clear that the prisoners would, as before, have to do the basic work necessary to keep the prison going: there were tasks which the prison staff could in no circumstances be expected to do. But insofar as work in the prison shops was concerned, it would be implicit that the prisoners would be expected to do this but that if they refused to do it they would be punished by loss of remission, or some similar penalty, rather than more severely…

“The statement would be spelling out what had been implicit in the Government’s public statement and explicit in earlier communications.”

It said the PM agreed that one more effort should be made to explain the situation to the hunger strikers, but then, following further discussions “it was drawn to the Prime Minister’s attention that any approach of the kind outlined above to the hunger strikers would inevitably become public whether or not it succeeded, the Prime Minister reviewed the proposal on the telephone with the Secretary of State and decided the dangers in taking an initiative would be so great that she was not prepared to risk them.

“The official who went in to the prison could repeat the Government’s public position but could go no futher.”

Further documents show the “network of contacts” was being followed up.

There are two documents recording details of a visit by Mr Belloch and Mr Blackwell to the prison on July 20, a week after the death of Martin Hurson, the sixth of ten men to die.
Both said the visit was prompted by a call from Kevin Lynch’s priest who said Lynch and relatives of Kieran Doherty wanted an NIO official to visit the Maze to clarify the Government statement of July 19. Both hunger strikers denied asking for a visit but “were content for an official to see the group of hunger strikers”.

Mr Blelloch gave relatives an outline of the Government’s position. The assistant governor visited each of the hunger strikers to tell them of the presence of an NIO official but all said they would only meet him as a group and “all but Lynch had said that McFarlane must be present”.

It added: “Mr Blelloch first spoke to the families and explained the position with regard to McFarlane. He made clear that he would speak to the hunger strikers as individuals or as a group and in front of relatives or priests if they wished…We then visited each hunger striker in turn and Mr Blelloch explained that he was an official from the NIO and he was there to see if he could help. In each case the hunger striker’s response was the same – they would only see him in a group and McFarlane must be present. Even Lynch who had not previously mentioned McFarlane now did so…It was decided not to approach the other three hunger strikers in H.3 since that was McFarlane’s block and they were most unlikely to agree to a meeting without his presence.”

The other document on the visit backs this up, saying: “Lynch had said he would like an official to see him and the group and Doherty had said he would like an official to see him and the group and McFarlane.”

Mr Blelloch and Mr Blackwell arrived: “The prison officer said that all five hunger strikers in the prison hospital (except Lynch) were insisting on McFarlane being present.” However it said that when they spoke to Lynch, he now also insisted that McFarlane be present so no-one took up the offer of a meeting. Officials were told he and others were too weak and needed a spokesman.

It adds under the heading “Background briefing”: “The reason they did not wish to take up the offer was because they wished to insist on the presence of McFarlane who had made clear that all he was interested in was tearing up the Government’s statements and negotiating the ‘5 demands’.”

All 32 of the newly released documents will be published on the Sentinel’s website, www.londonderrysentinel.co.uk, as well as a number of those supplied to the Sentinel which had previously been disclosed.

Sourced from the Londonderry Sentinel

NIO documents released to Sentinel

Never-before-seen 1981 hunger strike documents disclosed
Published Date: 31 August 2010
Londonderry Sentinel

A FASCINATING insight into one of the most contentious periods of the Northern Ireland ‘Troubles’ has been revealed by documents obtained by the Sentinel under the Freedom of Information Act (FOI).

The hunger strike of 1981 in the Maze prison saw ten republican protestors die and caused mayhem on the streets of the country claiming the lives of civilians, Army, police and prison personnel.

Now after a 15 month tussle with the Northern Ireland Office the Sentinel has obtained 32 never before seen documents in relation to the era.

The FOI request was made by the Sentinel amid claims that the lives of several hunger strikers were sacrificed to boost the republican movement’s electoral strategy and that an acceptable offer was made to the hunger strikers but they were not informed by the IRA. INLA prisoners were also among those who died.

The papers now in the possession of the Sentinel cast new light on events and on moves to bring the hunger strike to an end.

Taken in conjunction with a small number of previously released documents, the papers, kept secret for almost 30 years, show the Government was working on a number of levels with many and varied organisations and reflects the differences in its public and private moves.

Tomorrow’s edition of the Londonderry Sentinel will reveal our analysis of some of the documents.

The documents will also be made available on the Sentinel’s website later in the week as will previously released documents that were also supplied by the NIO.

Sourced from the Londonderry Sentinel

Deadline for NIO on Hunger Strike FOI Request: 8 March 2009

NIO told: explain secrecy over ‘deal on hunger strike’
Belfast Telegraph
By Adrian Rutherford
Tuesday, 16 February 2010

The Northern Ireland Office has been set a 35-day deadline to explain why it has refused to disclose secret papers on an alleged deal which could have saved the lives of six hunger strikers.

It follows a ruling yesterday from the Information Commissioner’s Office upholding a complaint about the NIO’s failure to respond to a Freedom of Information (FoI) request.

The request asked for correspondence about a deal reportedly offered by the Government during the 1981 hunger strikes, in which 10 people died.

It has been claimed that Margaret Thatcher offered a compromise deal that would have ended the hunger strike early and saved six of the prisoners who died.

Eventually the prisoners did accept, but only after six more of their comrades starved to death.

Those claims also surfaced in a book written by Richard O’Rawe, the IRA spokesman in the Maze prison during the hunger strike.

The NIO had been asked to disclose any documents referring to any offer from the Government.

The NIO now has 35 days to either release the material or explain why it is being withheld.

Under The Freedom of Information Act an applicant is entitled to be informed in writing as to whether the information is held and to have the information released, or provided with an explanation why this is not being done.

However, in this case the NIO delayed outlining what exemptions they were applying to the requested material.

In his ruling Assistant Commissioner Steve Wood said: “The public authority failed to inform the complainant that all the requested information was subject to an exemption within 20 working days.”

Sourced from The Belfast Telegraph


NIO faces hunger strike file deadline
The Irish News
16 February 2010

The Northern Ireland Office must decide if releasing information about the 1981 hunger strike is in the public interest following a ruling from the information commissioner.

An information request was made in May last year asking for all information about the hunger strike to be released.

The NIO replied that an assessment would have to be carried out to see if disclosure of the files was in the public interest.

However, the information commissioner intervened after the person who made the request complained that the assessment was taking too long.

In a decision published earlier this month, the commissioner criticised the NIO for not telling the complainant that, because of the nature of the information, a reply did not have to be issued within the 20-working-day time limit.

The commissioner also found that delays in carrying out the public-interest test were in breach of the Freedom of Information Act.

The NIO now must decide by next month if the files should be disclosed.

If it agrees to disclose the papers, the NIO should also provide copies to the complainant.

Side by Side: The July Offer and Ten Men Dead

Compare and Contrast

Excerpt from David Beresford’s Ten Men Dead, where the 5 July offer is described on pages 292-294 (Formatted for clarity)

The channel had been reopened by the Foreign Office in the wake of the conciliatory 4 July statement by the prisoners, in which they had insisted that their five demands could be met without any departure from ‘principle’ on the Government’s part. The Mountain Climber had told Adams, through their middlemen, that provided it led to an immediate end to the hunger strike, the Government was prepared to issue a statement setting out agreed concessions.

  • The Foreign Office, in its first offer, had conceded the prisoners’ main demand of their own clothing – all of the prisoners in the north would get it, irrespective of the reason they were in jail, so that the Government could claim it was no recognition of any ‘special’ status.
  • Visits and other such privileges had been agreed: the protesting prisoners would have them all restored on the ending of the hunger strike. But the prisoners were sticking on work, association and the restoration of lost remission.
  • On work, the Foreign Office was prepared to fudge the issue, suggesting that the main prop would be domestic tasks, such as cleaning, laundry and kitchen duties, together with “constructive work” such as building a chapel in the prison – the proposal put forward by Cardinal O Fiaich to Roy Mason so many years before – making toys for charities and studying for the Open University, or other educational courses. The prisoners wanted self-education to be the main prop, while being prepared to do maintenance work.
  • The Foreign Office was offering nothing new on free association, arguing that the prisoners were already allowed to mix during leisure hours, in the evenings and at weekends, and that what they were demanding was ‘unsupervised’ association, which would create unacceptable security problems – paramilitary activities like those which went on in the Cages. The prisoners had retorted that they only wanted free association in the wings and that there was no requirement that control be restricted – they would not interfere with the supervisory duties of warders.
  • The Government had made a vague offer to restore a proportion of lost remission; the prisoners wanted it all back – for some men it meant an extra year or more in jail.

The July Offer from Thatcher

“The NIO has several drafts of this document on file, which differ only in minor detail. This was one which Thatcher authorised to be sent to the IRA on July 8th 1981. The letter from Downing Street to the NIO sent on that date (and on the Sunday Times website) describes it as as “a draft statement enlarging upon the message of the previous evening but in no way departing from its substance” It went on “if the PIRA accepted the draft statement and ordered the hunger strikers to end their protest the statement would be issued immediately. If they did not the statement would not be put out.” At the meeting in Derry Brendan Duddy said this draft statement set out the offer which he had sent to the IRA on 5th and which, he said, was rejected by the IRA.” *- Liam Clarke

* “More was needed”

Statement by the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland

1. In the light of discussions which Mr Michael Alison has had recently with the Irish Commission for Justice and Peace, during which a statement was issued on 4 July on behalf of the protesting prisoners in the Maze Prison, HMG have come to the following conclusions.

2. When the hunger strike and the protest is brought to an end (and not before), the Government will:

I. extend to all male prisoners in Northern Ireland the clothing regime at present available to female prisoners in Armagh Prison (i.e. subject to the prison governor’s approval);

II. make available to all prisoners in Northern Ireland the allowance of letters, parcels and visits at present available to conforming prisoners;

III. allow the restoration of forfeited remission at the discretion of the responsible disciplinary authority, as indicated in my statement of 30 June, which hitherto has meant the restoration of up to one-fifth of remission lost subject to a satisfactory period of good behaviour;

IV. ensure that a substantial part of the work will consist of domestic tasks inside and outside the wings necessary for servicing of the prison (such as cleaning and in the laundries and kitchens), constructive work, e.g. on building projects or making toys for charitable bodies, and study for Open University or other courses. The prison authorities will be responsible for supervision. The aim of the authorities will be that prisoners should do the kinds of work for which they are suited, but this will not always be possible and the authorities will retain responsibility for decisions about allocation.

3. Little advance is possible on association. It will be permitted within each wing, under supervision of the prison staff.

4. Protesting prisoners have been segregated from the rest. Other prisoners are not segregated by religious or any other affiliation. If there were no protest the only reason for segregating some prisoners from others would be the judgment of the prison authorities, not the prisoners, that this was the best way to avoid trouble between groups.

5. This statement is not a negotiating position. But it is further evidence of the Government’s desire to maintain and where possible to improve a humanitarian regime in the prisons. The Government earnestly hopes that the hunger strikers and the other protesters will cease their protest.

Ten Men Dead pgs 292-294: The offer described

Excerpt from David Beresford’s Ten Men Dead, where the 5 July offer is described on pages 292-294


“While the [ICJP] commissioners were occupying centre stage, at least in their eyes and those of the media, the hard bargaining was in fact going on in the wings. The Foreign office had relaunched the ‘Mountain Climber’ initiative. While the commission was busily negotiating – or ‘clarifying the situations’ – between the prisoners and the Northern Ireland Office, the Foreign Office was talking directly to the external leadership of the IRA, through the medium of the same middleman as had been used in December [1980].

The channel had been reopened by the Foreign Office in the wake of the conciliatory 4 July statement by the prisoners, in which they had insisted that their five demands could be met without any departure from ‘principle’ on the Government’s part. The Mountain Climber had told Adams, through their middlemen, that provided it led to an immediate end to the hunger strike, the Government was prepared to issue a statement setting out agreed concessions. The Foreign Office, in its first offer, had conceded the prisoners’ main demand of their own clothing – all of the prisoners in the north would get it, irrespective of the reason they were in jail, so that the Government could claim it was no recognition of any ‘special’ status. Visits and other such privileges had been agreed: the protesting prisoners would have them all restored on the ending of the hunger strike. But the prisoners were sticking on work, association and the restoration of lost remission. On work, the Foreign Office was prepared to fudge the issue, suggesting that the main prop would be domestic tasks, such as cleaning, laundry and kitchen duties, together with “constructive work” such as building a chapel in the prison – the proposal put forward by Cardinal O Fiaich to Roy Mason so many years before – making toys for charities and studying for the Open University, or other educational courses. The prisoners wanted self-education to be the main prop, while being prepared to do maintenance work. The Foreign Office was offering nothing new on free association, arguing that the prisoners were already allowed to mix during leisure hours, in the evenings and at weekends, and that what they were demanding was ‘unsupervised’ association, which would create unacceptable security problems – paramilitary activities like those which went on in the Cages. The prisoners had retorted that they only wanted free association in the wings and that there was no requirement that control be restricted – they would not interfere with the supervisory duties of warders. The Government had made a vague offer to restore a proportion of lost remission; the prisoners wanted it all back – for some men it meant an extra year or more in jail.”

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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.