July 1981


Uncovering the Truth About the 1981 Hunger Strike

AOH on Hunger Strike Families Meeting with Sinn Fein

AOH on Hunger Strike Families Meeting with Sinn Fein

TO: PEC Committee Members
RE: Hunger Strike Families Meet with Sinn Fein
FR: National PEC Co Chairmen Joe Roche and Ned McGinley
DA: June 22, 2009

Historical Note:

The Ancient Order of Hibernians in America in 1982 passed a Resolution in memory of the Ten Hunger Strikers both IRA and INLA Volunteers in who were martyred in 1981 on Hunger Strike, paying the ultimate price for their ideals.

Ten of those resolutions, now framed, were then carried to Belfast by a Committee lead by National President Joseph Roche to be presented to the Ten grieving Hunger Strike families.

Every family, bar none, sent a member to receive those framed resolutions from the hand of the National President of the A.O.H. in America including Mickey Devine and Patsy O’Hara’s families.

There have been rumors and urban legends regarding the British Government and Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher giving in to the “Five Demands” of the Hunger Strikers, which the Hunger Strike Committee received, not telling anyone, and that those ten brave heroes died in vain.

For anyone who remembers or lived in those times believes that Margaret Thatcher, who demanded that the Republican Volunteers be criminalized, would have wilted and given in to the demands I have a bridge between Manhattan and Brooklyn on the East River to sell them.

Patsy O’Hara, Kevin Lynch, and Mickey Devine (the last to die) were all INLA volunteers, very brave men, who put themselves forward for Martydom.

The Five Demands:

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 organize educational and recreational pursuits;
The right to one visit, one letter and one parcel per week;
Full restoration of remission lost through the protest.

Participants who died on hunger strike

Over the summer, ten hunger strikers had died. Their names, paramilitary affiliation, dates of death, and length of hunger strike are as follows:

Name; Paramilitary affiliation; Home Town;
Strike started; Date of death; Length of strike

  • Bobby Sands, IRA, Newtownabbey,
    1 March, 5 May, 66 days.
  • Francis Hughes, IRA, Bellaghy, County Londonderry,
    15 March, 12 May, 59 days.
  • Raymond McCreesh, IRA, Carnlough, County Armagh,
    22 March, 21 May, 61 days.
  • Patsy O’Hara, INLA, Derry City,
    22 March, 21 May, 61 days.
  • Joe McDonnell, IRA, Belfast,
    8 May, 8 July, 61 days.
  • Martin Hurson, IRA, Cappagh, County Tyrone,
    28 May, 13 July, 46 days.
  • Kevin Lynch, INLA, Dungiven, County Londonderry,
    23 May, 1 August, 71 days.
  • Kieran Doherty, IRA, Belfast,
    22 May, 2 August, 73 days.
  • Thomas McElwee, IRA, Bellaghy, County Londonderry,
    8 June, 8 August, 62 days.
  • Michael Devine, INLA, Derry City,
    22 June, 20 August, 60 days.

We cannot allow the IRSP’s Richard O’Rawe to sully the great bravery of these men.

Their families know better and there can be little doubt that the election of Bobby Sands, while on Hunger Strike, and the deaths of these 10 brave men led to the political strength of the nationalist/republican cause today and will lead to a United Ireland by peaceful means in the future.

They did not die in vain we will have a United Ireland and the A.O.H. will be there as they were in Belfast in 1982.



Note: AOH = Ancient Order of Hibernians; PEC = The AOH’s Political Education Committee.
Sourced from Irish Aires All

Chicago Hunger Strike Commemoration speech

Chicago Hunger Strike Commemoration speech

The Chicago cumann of the Irish Freedom Committee and the Irish Republican Socialist Committees of North America joined together for the second time since 2005 under the banner of the Chicago Hunger Strike Commemoration Committee (CHSCC), to host the June 6th commemoration. Event attendees came from across the United States from as far as Washington State, Missouri, Minnesota, downstate Illinois and New York.

CHSCC Chairman, Colm Mistéil’s Address:

colm_speechA chairde agus a chomrádaí,

Go raibh maith agaibh go léir as teacht an tráthnóna seo, chun chuimhnigh ar cothrom an lá ocht mbliain is fiche ó lá an Stailc Ocrais sna H-blocanna.

Thank you all for joining us this afternoon to remember the 28th anniversary of the Hunger Strike.

Today the Charlie Kerins cumann of the Cumann na Saoirse / the Irish Freedom Committee, and the Irish Republican Socialist Committees of North America come together in unity under the banner of the Chicago Hunger Strike Commemoration Committee. We see, as the hunger strikers saw, unity as the way forward. Inside the H-Blocks of Long Kesh seven volunteers of the Irish Republican Army, and three of the Irish National Liberation Army starved to death and gave their lives for their comrades. They were guilty of no crime, but were imprisoned for their unwavering dedication to the cause of Irish Freedom, and for the establishment of a 32 county Irish Workers’ Republic.

For about the last four years, a controversy has surrounded the events of 1981, one that our former comrades in Provisional Sinn Féin wish would disappear. In 2005 Richard O’Rawe, H-Block Public Relations Officer during the hunger strike, published his book Blanketmen: An Untold Story of the H-Block Hunger Strike in which he offers us a version of the events of 1981 that we never heard before. He reveals to us that on July 5th an offer was made by the British Government and delivered to Republicans through a Derry businessman who served as a go between, codenamed by the IRA as ‘the Mountain climber.’ The prison leadership of Bik McFarlane as O/C (officer commanding) and Richard O’Rawe as Public Relations Officer thought that the offer was enough to end the Hunger Strike as it would have granted 4 of the 5 demands. They sent their answer to the outside Provisional leadership, who turned down the offer. At this time four men had died, and 8 were on hunger strike with Joe McDonnell only days away from death. It all could have been over then, and 6 young men would not have lost their lives. I will not go into the reasons why the outside Provisional leadership turned down the offer, but suggest that you read Richard O’Rawe’s book.

Since the book was published O’Rawe has faced vicious condemnation from those in Provisional Sinn Féin. Bik has said no offers were made, and has denied that the acceptance conversation ever took place. But Richard O’Rawe has stuck to his story and continues to demand the truth. The provos’ story keeps changing, but O’Rawe’s has remained the same. At first, I did not believe him, and thought he was a liar; but more and more evidence has come out to vindicate O’Rawe. One of the main charges against him was if the acceptance conversation took place, then someone on the wing must have heard it. For four years no one had come forward, that is until two weeks ago. At a talk held in Derry titled “What is the Truth Behind the Hunger Strike?” a former blanketman, Gerard Clarke, who was on the same wing in H3 as Bik and O’Rawe confirmed O’Rawe’s claim that the acceptance conversation took place. I now have no doubt what so ever that Richard O’Rawe’s account of the Hunger Strike is accurate and the lives of six young men could have been saved. We in the Chicago Hunger Strike Commemoration Committee join with our Republican comrades back home in demanding that Gerry Adams, Danny Morrison, and Bik McFarlane come clean and give us the truth once and for all.

Keeping the Hunger Strikers in mind, we must also remember current Irish Republican POWs, of which there are nearly 100, many of whom still fight for the political status that the hunger strikers gave their lives for. There are some who like to think that there are no more Republican Prisoners, they were all let out in 2000 when Long Kesh was closed. I think the children of Terry McCafferty, who haven’t spent a Christmas with their father in over 6 years, would tell them differently. There are others who would like to think the war is over and there is now peace in the North of Ireland, the brave actions of the Real IRA and Continuity IRA of early March have shown the words of Pádraig Pearse ring true, “Ireland unfree, shall never be at peace.” While there is a one British soldier on Irish soil, and while one Irish worker is exploited by his capitalist oppressor, the war for the Irish Workers’ Republic will continue.

Now is the time for Republicans to unite together to make the next phase of the struggle the last one. We should not waste time condemning our former comrades in the Provisional Movement; we need to demand the truth from them on the hunger strike, otherwise we should just forget about them and move forward. Our numbers may be small, but we must remember the words of Terence MacSwiney “If only a few are faithful found they must be all the more steadfast for being but a few.” We must do all we can to help our comrades in Ireland to finally see the Irish Workers’ Republic become a reality.

Beir Bua!

Sourced from saoreire.com


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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.