July 1981


Uncovering the Truth About the 1981 Hunger Strike

Underlying Slur in Morrison’s Hunger Strike Comments

Underlying Slur in Morrison’s Hunger Strike Comments
Irish News letters page
Terry Hughes

I read with interest Danny Morrison’s recent article in the Andersonstown News about the 1980 hunger strike, which was led by my brother, the late Brendan Hughes.

“Whether the republican leadership’s analysis and depiction of what was happening, was correct”, I do agree that the leadership was bereft of ideas on how to resolve the prison crisis.

Not only was there a dearth of ideas on how to bring the prison protest to a successful conclusion, but there was abject failure at leadership level to highlight to the outside world the conditions that the prisoners were enduring, and it was only when the first hunger strike was called that the world would see what was happening to the Blanketmen in the H Blocks.

During this time there were many rallies and meetings to highlight the demands of the prisoners.  On December 8th, 1980 — the eve of Charles Haughey’s summit meeting with Margaret Thatcher — I met with the then Taoiseach in a hotel in Kilkenny to impress upon him the urgency of trying to resolve the hunger strike.  While Mr Haughey told me that he was not pessimistic of the outcome, he certainly did not leave me with the feeling that he would stick his neck out to resolve it.

The hunger strike ended on December 18th, and, as Danny Morrison now admits, there was nothing on the table when Brendan called off the hunger strike after 52 days. 

Danny used the word ‘unilaterally’ to describe Brendan’s decision to end the hunger strike, saying that he did not consult his OC, Bobby Sands. 

There is an underlying slur there, whether or not Danny Morrison wishes to admit it. 

What Mr Morrison did not say – and should have said — was that Brendan had little choice other than to intervene to save Sean McKenna’s life.

I say this because Sean had indicated to Brendan early on in the hunger strike that he was not prepared to die, and had secured Brendan’s word of honour that he would not let him die.

As well as that, several other hunger strikers had informed my brother that they were not prepared to die either. 

So what was Brendan to do in those circumstances? Let Sean die? Brendan believed that that would be tantamount to him committing murder. 

Perhaps Danny Morrison thinks Brendan should not have kept his word to Sean and let him die. If he does think this, he should say so.

Brendan lived to see ten of his best friends and comrades die on the second hunger strike.

It affected him deeply and, I believe, was the primary contributing factor to his own early death.

Abandoned and demonised by his erstwhile comrades in the leadership, Brendan Hughes he died as he lived, a republican, and a man of honour.

First published in the Irish News

How Could Brits Renege if There Was No Offer?

How Could Brits Renege if There Was No Offer?
Letter in the Irish News and Andersonstown News
Gerard Foster

Danny Morrison in a recent article in another publication, un-prompted, wrote about the Hunger Strikes of 1980 and 81. He stated that he, and the Provisional leadership on the outside, was economical with the truth about the ending of the first Hunger Strike.

In fact, over the last 30 years they have stuck rigidly to the same story: Britain reneged on a deal when the Hunger Strikers ended the protest. Even when Richard O Rawe wrote that there was a deal/offer to end the second Hunger Strike, they, the Provisional leadership, said because the Brits reneged on the deal on the first Hunger Strike, they needed guarantees before the prisoners would end the second Hunger Strike.

Now Morrison is saying that there was no offer/deal during the ending of the first Hunger Strike. This does not add up. They could not end the second Hunger Strike because the Brits reneged on a deal they never made during the first Hunger Strike? What is it Danny, was there a deal or not during the first Strike?

I can only think that the Provisionals, in the run up to the next elections, are going to use the Hunger Strikers that died in 1981 as an election tool, it is on the 30th anniversary of Bobby Sands death, this is to try and increase their support. This might also be the reason they picked Pat Sheehan, a Hunger Striker, to replace Adams in West Belfast.

Before they do that, maybe there are some questions they need to answer around the lead up to Joe Mc Donnell’s death.

The one I have already asked: if the Brits didn’t make an offer in 1980, how did they renege?

Why has it taken 30 years for Morrison to tell the “truth”?

Where are the rest of the “Mountain climber” comms that were not to be seen in the book Ten Men Dead?

Adams was on the phone to his British contact when Joe died; where are the transcripts of these talks, who was he talking to (according to the Mountain climber, Brendan Duddy, he has never spoken to Adams), and what deal/offer was on the table from the British government?

None of the surviving Hunger Strikers who to spoke to Morrison or Adams during their visits to the prison hospital in July 1981 have said that either man had told them what was on offer from the British. In actual fact, Hunger Striker Lawrence Mc Keown, in his book Nor Meekly Serve My Time, wrote of the Adams visit, “he told the parents of Kieran Doherty and the Hunger Strikers that there was nothing on the table”*. It is obvious that Adams did not tell the Hunger strikers about his secret contact with the British government. Why not?

Danny Morrison, and others in the Provisional leadership, has been biggest critics of O Rawe and his claims that a Brit offer had been accepted by the prison leadership in the days before Joe Mc Donnell died. They ask repeatedly; why did it take him 25 years to say this? Well, I now ask Danny Morrison this question: why has it taken you 30 years to tell us that there was no offer/deal at the end of the first Hunger Strike?

First published in the letters page of the Irish News and the Andersonstown News

* Page 236, Nor Meekly Serve My Time, Laurence McKeown describes Gerry Adams’ 29 July visit to the hunger strikers:

“On their way out of his cell Doc’s parents met and spoke with Gerry, Bik and the others. They asked what the situation was and Gerry said he had just told all the stailceoiri, including Kieran, that there was no deal on the table from the Brits, no movement of any sort and if the stalic continued, Doc would most likely be dead within a few days. They just listened and nodded, more or less resigned to the fact that they would be watching their son die any day now.”

Irish News letters page: There was no hunger strike offer

There was no hunger strike offer
Irish News letters page
Manus McDaid, Derry

With reference to the letter entitled ‘The truth about the Hunger Strikers’ by Mr Tony O’Hara (October 22), one has to reiterate again the position taken by the hunger strikers the second time around.

They made five demands to be met by a response by the British government in writing and delivered to them by a British government representative in person.

Anything less than that was to be rejected.

I imagine the H-blocks were awash with rumours of concern, hope and fear for the well-being of the hunger strikers.

I believe that the terms ‘deals’ ‘agreements’ were freely used.

In that climate it would not be surprising if some failed to understand the difference between a verbal deal and a written agreement.

As I understand there may have been work in the hope that a written agreement might be thrashed out.

I understand that a deal was returned by Mrs Thatcher who described it as a ‘dangerous precedent’.

So no document bears witness to an offer by the British:
• ‘the mountain climber’ said he never saw a document
• Rurai O Bradaigh who was very close to the events of 1981 said the IRA leadership had no awareness of a deal [a document]
• the chaplains in the Kesh knew nothing of a document.

The hunger strike was brought to an end when clergy argued for that end on moral grounds – not on the existence of a documented offer to the strikers based on the latter’s conditions.

So Mr O’Hara on your ‘factual side’ you have Mr O’Rawe saying there was a deal and Mr Garrett Fitzgerald is pretty light in the absence of a written document.

It is important to separate ‘local talk’ and a distinctive ‘deal’ verbally agreed maybe.

The requirement of the hunger strikers was for written propositions by the British given to them.

One ought to be alert that any kind of public inquiry critically needing British involvement is a non-starter.

Sourced from the Irish News

Irish News letters page: Act provides facts

Act provides facts
Irish News letters page
T Molloy, Belfast 11

Sean Flynn (The Irish News, October 17) says that he visited INLA hunger strikers on July 5 1981 and they were not aware that talks were going on in the background.

He says he saw Danny Morrison in the prison. Morrison says he did not see Flynn and he believes that Flynn has mixed up his dates.

This can be resolved very easily. Under the Freedom of Information Act Morrison applied for details of all visits to the hunger strikers on July 5 1981.

He received a facsimile of a document which proves that he visited all the hunger strikers (thus suggesting that he did tell the INLA men about talks).

Why doesn’t Sean Flynn do the same – apply under the Freedom of Information Act to prove that he visited the H-blocks on Sunday, July 5 1981?

Sourced from the Irish News

Irish News letters page: Only an inquiry can solve 1981 Hunger Strike issues

Only an inquiry can solve 1981 Hunger Strike issues
Irish News letters page
Gerard Foster, Andersonstown

Having read the two articles on the 1981 Hunger Strike issue (Irish News, October 22) of an offer made by the British, a number of things jumped out at me.

Firstly, how Richard O’Rawe stuck to asking questions and quoting named sources to make the points that he wanted to make of the ‘kitchen cabinet’ led by Gerry Adams. How he dealt with those who are trying to deride the debate using emotional points instead of answering the questions asked or trying to say that those who believe there is a version different from the Adams and Co line are calling the hunger strikers “dupes” or “fools”.

Secondly, in the article by Bernard Fox he was unable or unwilling to answer the points made by the Republicans who do not toe the Adams line. He was critical of the former Blanketmen who are asking questions about July 1981, as to “why they would wait all these years to bring this out”.

Yet he himself said in the same article “It took me 20 years before I could even speak openly about my experiences”.

Surely Bernard that answers your own point about the time span?

Bernard says he is emotional and raw even now for him and these claims just add to the pain, and then says he can only imagine what it must be like for the families of the 10 lads. Again he is using the Adams technique of tugging at people’s hearts by talking about the families and their pain instead of answering the questions. He seems to forget that at least two of the families are asking for an inquiry into the July 1981 offer.

Is their hurt and pain any less than the other families?

Thirdly, Bernard also states he has no time for inquiries and goes on to say “what is needed is the truth and it would be naive to think the British will ever tell the truth”.

We don’t need the British to tell the truth, what is needed is for the kitchen cabinet to answer the questions asked instead of running away from the issue and playing on people’s emotions, changing their version of the events in July 1981, contradicting each other and themselves. Why has Bernard avoided these things instead of telling us that “we [the prisoners] knew he [Bik] wasn’t going to let us down”?

Yet even Bik has changed his version a number of times of what actually happened in July 1981.

Not very reassuring is it?

Lastly, Bernard criticised claims the last six hunger strikers were allowed to die “in order to maximise electoral support for Sinn Fein”. I would ask Bernard who is making these claims? I know of nobody asking for the inquiry who is also claiming this.

An inquiry will look at what happened in July 1981 asking all those involved in the Mountain Climber offer what part they played and were the prisoners told everything. After it concludes with its findings then people will be asked why they acted the way they did and for what reasons. Adams and his kitchen cabinet cannot hide behind closed doors at private meetings hoping this will go away, it will not. Tony O’Hara in the letters page in the same issue of The Irish News asks questions of Gerry Adams that cannot be avoided much longer.

Sourced from the Irish News

Irish News letters page: The Facts of the Hunger Strike Have Already Been Established

The facts of the hunger strikes have already been established
Irish News letters page
Carrie Twomey

Brendan Hughes’s second anniversary is coming up in February. Manus McDaid (October 26) seems to think that because he is not long dead, no one can know his reasons for ending the first hunger strike – “we can only surmise”, he writes.

Actually, we can, and do know his reasons. They are documented in numerous books and interviews. As well, many former prisoners of the time know the truth.

It is not a matter of guessing, as Brendan was very forthright about the issue, even within the pages of The Irish News, where he wrote:

“As the IRA leader in charge of that hunger strike I had given Sean McKenna a guarantee that were he to lapse into a coma I would not permit him to die.

“When the awful moment arrived I kept my word to him.

“Having made that promise, to renege on it once Sean had reached a point where he was no longer capable of making a decision for himself, I would have been guilty of his murder.

“Twenty-five years on, I have no reason to change my mind that the decision I made to save the life of Sean McKenna was the proper one.

“Faced with similar circumstances I would do the same again.

“History may judge my actions differently but preventing Sean McKenna from becoming history rather than my own place in history was my prevailing concern.” (July 13 2006)

And yes, I also heard it from Brendan personally, having spoken with him about this on a number of occasions. It was a time that weighed heavily on his heart until his dying day. I do personally know how much he suffered.

The facts of the second hunger strike have also been established: in early July there was a substantial offer from Thatcher that contained four of the five demands, the prison leadership accepted that offer, they were over-ruled by their representatives on the outside and the hunger strike was prolonged a further four months, with six young men dying needlessly.

The British had their offer in writing ready to go into the prison and to the press – this is now a matter of historical record, thanks to FOI (Freedom of Information) release of documents.

“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)” – Extract from a Telegram from the Northern Ireland Office to the Cabinet Office.

This internal document is very clear about the sequence of events the British were going to follow.

All they were waiting for was the word of Gerry Adams, to tell them the prisoners would accept the offer.

The distrust was mutual; the British would not move without knowing the answer would be yes ahead of time. This choreography, as we have come to know so well from the machinations of the peace process, is typical of the British and their relationship with Sinn Fein.

The prisoners would not have been left without recourse had Adams given the British the indication they needed to seal the deal, if the offer was dubious. But they were never given the chance. They were told nothing.

According to Laurence McKeown’s own account, Adams went in to the hunger strikers and said nothing was on the table, there was no movement from the British. He said this to Kieran Doherty’s parents as their son lay dying in the next room.

Only a few days prior Thatcher was sending Adams drafts of a speech she was prepared to give announcing the ending of the hunger strike, yet we are to believe that Adams was holding out because it was “wanted in writing the response of the British to their five demands”.

If Thatcher sending a draft copy of her speech on the ending of the Hunger Strike, for the purpose of taking suggestions from Adams, does not qualify as bona fides indicating the commitment of the British to the offer they had made, what would?

It is ridiculous to hold on to the lie that the ending of the first hunger strike is the reason those managing the Hunger Strike on the outside would not accept Thatcher’s offers. The historical record shows that plainly to be complete nonsense. It will only become more evidentially nonsense as time goes on and more information is made available.

Sourced from the Irish News

Thomas ‘Dixie’ Elliott: “We got nothing”

Tuesday, November 10, 2009
“We got nothing”
by Thomas ‘Dixie’ Elliott

This is an unedited version of what was carried in the Irish News

I often look back to the time I spent on the blanket protest and feel privileged that I had the honour of spending some of those dark and more often than not, cold and brutal days sharing a cell in the company of Tom McElwee and Bobby Sands. These patriots, like the other brave hunger strikers, dreamt that they would live to bear witness to the unity of the Irish people within the political framework of a thirty-two county socialist republic, and it was for that reason alone that they had been imprisoned. Having spoken to Tom and Bobby and other hunger strikers, I know that they also looked forward to getting out of Long Kesh after completing their sentences and returning to their families. Tragically, it was not to be.

The darkest of those days were the periods of the two hunger strikes and I clearly remember the night of 18 December 1980, when the first hunger strike ended, after Brendan ‘The Dark’ Hughes called it off in order to save Seán McKenna’s life. I was in the leadership wing with Bobby, Bik McFarlane and Richard O’Rawe at that time. Bobby had been to the prison hospital and I looked out the window of my cell and saw him alight from the prison van with shoulders hunched and I knew immediately that something wasn’t right. This was confirmed when he walked down the wing and told us: ‘Ní fhuaireomar faic,’ [we got nothing]. In fact the only thing coming from the British, and it was handed to Gerry Adams by Father Meagher in Belfast, was a document that wasn’t worth the paper it was written on and which would never had ended the hunger strike even had The Dark chosen to let Seán die and continue with the fast.

In regards to clothing and work, the most important of our five demands, the document stated: ’As soon as possible all prisoners will be issued with civilian-type clothing for wear during the working day’. We Blanketmen realised instantly that civilian-type clothing was nothing more than a modernised prison uniform and that Bobby had been spot-on when he told us ‘Ní fhuaireomar faic,’ out of the 1980 hunger strike. That being the case, why do Gerry Adams, Martin McGuinness, and others persist with the claim that the Brits reneged on a deal during the first hunger strike when that is demonstrably untrue? Even more perplexing was the fact that former hunger striker, Bernard Fox, recently supported this claim in an interview with the Irish News.

While I have the greatest respect for Bernard as a former comrade and republican, he nonetheless said something in his interview with profound implications:

I wasn’t in the hospital at that time [when Danny Morrison met the hunger strikers on 5 July 1981] and I don’t know what the men were told or not told but I do know there was no deal.

He is right, of course; there was no deal between the prisoners and the Brits in early July; had there been a deal, Bernard would not have had to go on hunger strike. But what is astonishing is that he had been on hunger strike for thirty-two days, yet Bernard says that no one had informed him about the Mountain Climber offer which Danny Morrison allegedly relayed to the hunger strikers on 5 July 1981. It goes without saying then that Bernard never set eyes on the Secretary of State, Humphrey Atkins’s statement that incorporated the offer, and which was to be released upon the hunger strike ending. That begs the question: how can Bernard reconcile being deliberately kept in ignorance about the potentially life-saving Mountain Climber offer, and still lend his unqualified support for those who took a decision to keep that knowledge from him?

Bernard said he was deeply distressed by allegations that a deal which could have ended the hunger strike was vetoed in order to maximise electoral support for Sinn Féin. I too am deeply distressed, but the more I looked into these claims the more I see that there was a lot more being discussed at the time than a resolution to the hunger strike. In a comm to Gerry Adams, dated 26.7.’81, reproduced on page 334 of Ten Men Dead, Bik talks about ‘examining the possibility of contesting elections and actually making full use of seats gained i.e. participating in the Dáil’. He continues: ‘Such an idea presents problems within the Movement. How great would the opposition be and what would be the consequences of pursuing a course which did not enjoy a sizeable degree of support?’

Then on August 20th the same day that Micky Devine died, Owen Carron retained Bobby’s Fermanagh/South Tyrone seat. Just three days later on August 23rd, Sinn Féin announced that in future it would contest all Northern Ireland elections. The Hunger Strikes ended on October the 3rd and on October 6th Prior implemented exactly what was on offer from July 5th.

On October 31st at the Sinn Fein Ard Fheis Danny Morrison gave his famous ballot box/armalite speech in which he addressed the issue of the party taking part in future elections.

This time-line can be viewed at http://cain.ulst.ac.uk/issues/abstentionism/chron.htm

It shockingly appears that while men were dying and even when the Hunger Strike was still on-going that they were discussing and even pushing through electoralism.

Sourced from The Pensive Quill

Irish News letters: Judge the hunger strikers on their own brave deeds

Judge the hunger strikers on their own brave deeds
Irish News letters page
Manus McDaid, Derry

It is my hope that the recent extensive coverage by The Irish News of the Hunger Strike represents the paper’s contribution to the search for closure on this painful long-running argument about British intentions during the strike.

It is evident that there are those who have simply taken the word of the British on this matter although the British themselves are reticent to speak about it.

There are also some who forget or choose to forget the first Hunger Strike ended when the men on strike took the British at their word.

As I wrote before, these men were double-crossed.

I believe the men who went on the second Hunger Strike were well aware of that.

They were not going to make the same mistake and accept the word of a duplicitous British government. They wanted their demands agreed in writing and confirmed by a British official in person.

This, to my best knowledge, never happened.

I note Mr O’Rawe via one Mr Liam Clarke says the secretary of state “would release a statement” in the event of the Hunger Strike.

This is more British double-speak. Truly, if a British official told me the day of the week, I would immediately reach for my diary.

I believe the men who died on hunger strike knew of the knavery of their opponents who could find space between truth and untruth where they could play with words.

It is here that the fortitude and might of the men on hunger strike ought to be measured, not by a welter of ‘what if’ rhetoric type of questions, nor by those seeking political gain, nor by those trying to make a quick buck out of the sacrifices made in support of their comrades in Long Kesh and Armagh Jail.

Sourced from the Irish News

Sinn Fein leaders must bow to plea for Hunger Strike deal inquiry

Sinn Fein leaders must bow to plea for Hunger Strike deal inquiry
Irish News, letters page
Patrick Saunders Belfast 14

FOR a long time I have followed the debate about the 1981 Hunger Strike and the events which many people are now questioning. At the time I was just a young boy so I don’t really remember a lot about those terrible days – except that I wasn‘t allowed out too often. Over the last few years there has been a steady increase in the number of republicans calling for an independent inquiry and I have to say

I totally agree with them.

The republicans who are calling for this inquiry are ex-Blanketmen, family members of those brave Hunger Strikers who died and a lot of other well-known republicans for whom I have a lot of respect and admiration.

The only people holding up and denying the opportunity of this inquiry are the leadership of Sinn Fein. Gerry Adams undoubtedly played a pivotal role in what went on in the H-blocks and would have known whether there was a deal or not.

He has said there was no deal and the claim that there was is just everyone on a Sinn Fein-bashing exercise.

I totally reject that view. People want the truth, that’s all.

If it comes out through an inquiry that there was no deal, then everyone will be able to put the whole issue to bed and finally try to get on with their lives.

This is a very emotional issue to many people and I’m being as sensitive as I can.

Too many people are calling for an inquiry now to just ignore them.

Sourced from the Irish News

Irish News letters page, 27 October 2009

An honest answer
Irish News letters page

I SEE that Richard O’Rawe is again peddling rubbish (October 22) about a deal on the Hunger Strike that the British government had apparently sent to Brendan Duddy and – according to Richard – was passed to Gerry Adams and rejected by the republican leadership on the outside who were running the strike.

As far as I and the majority of republicans are aware, it was the prisoners and the gaol leadership who were in control of the blanket protest and the Hunger Strike.

Bernard Fox (same edition) is a republican who disagrees with the current direction Sinn Fein has taken.

It would have been easy for him to have muddied the waters a bit or to have said nothing.

But Bernard is an honest and honourable man and I believe him because he has nothing to gain.

Sourced from the Irish News

Irish News letters page
Patrick J Corr Pittsburgh PA, USA

Reading about the inability of Gerry Adams to deal with the offer to the 1981 hunger strikers that would have ended the protest at an earlier stage, I believe Mgr Dennis Faul’s lesson to me, as a student at St Patrick’s Academy in Dungannon, on the reliability of republican leaders, has been fully vindicated.

Sourced from the Irish News

Irish News letters page, 26 October 2009

We should not insult the hunger strikers’ intelligence
Irish News letters page
Manus McDaid, Derry City

Carrie Twomey, in her letter entitled ‘The men behind the wire grow all the more noble as time reveals the truth’ (September 29), attacks me personally, although I never mentioned Sinn Fein in my letter (September 16).

On the matter of the first Hunger Strike, we sadly cannot ask Brendan Hughes his reasons for being part of the ending of the first hunger strike, we can only surmise.

Ms Twomey says (as if she personally knows) it was Mr Hughes’s ‘humanity’. Given the state of the prisoners in both Long Kesh and Armagh, I wonder if Mr Hughes was tricked by the British. That is an equally plausible hypothesis.

Again Ms Twomey speaks in a ‘the facts’ manner when she addresses the second Hunger Strike.

“The second Hunger Strike continued for longer than it needed because of the inhumanity of those managing it on the outside”.

That is not fact – it is opinion to which you are entitled.

I disagree with your opinion and I’ll tell you why.

It is a fact that the hunger strikers had learnt a bitter lesson. ‘‘Do not take simply the word of the British”.

Therefore they wanted in writing the response of the British to their five demands. They wanted a British government official to come in person and deliver the written response to them.

This required no influence from the ‘outside’.

It required the British to respond as described above.

They did not do so.

This may not sit easily with Ms Twomey.

It is good that she recognises the integrity of the hunger strikers.

It is too bad though that she and others, perhaps unconsciously, insult the intelligence of these men and their families by fatuous concoctions of half-truths and conspiracy theories.

Sourced from the Irish News

Sinn Fein has forgotten its best friends
Irish News letters page
L Dempsey, Belfast 11

The leadership of Sinn Fein and the IRA always demanded extreme loyalty from its members and it is recognised that Sinn Fein owes its electoral strength primarily to the sacrifice of the hunger strikers.

However, the leadership have never felt compelled to return that loyalty and former prisoners have been abandoned. Perhaps the greatest example of this is the fact that Coiste na nIarchimi, ostensibly an umbrella organisation for ex-prisoner groups, is staffed by people whose loyalty is to Sinn Fein first rather than to prisoners’ interests.

Thus we have former employees now sitting on policing boards and partnerships and advocating support for an organisation that views republican ex-prisoners as criminals.

This is a conflict of interest and wholly incompatible with prisoners’ interests.

If prisoner issues are to be addressed, it is going to have to be by people willing to exclusively promote prisoners’ interests.

We are fed up hearing how important it was for the peace process for Gerry Adams to get a visa to the US – and all of those in the leadership of Sinn Fein, including ex-prisoners, can do likewise. Those not tied to Sinn Fein – but who sacrificed their blood and liberty at the bidding of these so-called republicans – cannot get a visa.

That’s not important to Sinn Fein.

Let’s consider an independent prisoners’ movement.

Sourced from the Irish News

Irish News letters page: The men behind the wire grow all the more noble as time reveals its truth

The men behind the wire grow all the more noble as time reveals its truth
Irish News letters page
Carrie Twomey

Manus McDaid claims in his most recent letter, entitled ‘(S)he who paid the piper’ (September 16), that he never heard of the claim that the last six hunger strikers could have been saved by a deal on offer from Thatcher – the same terms that the prisoners got at the end of the hunger strike – but instead were sacrificed for Sinn Fein’s gain.

Yet it was only June when he was expounding on the same topic – making similar misleading points about the ending of the first hunger strike – in a previous letter to The Irish News (‘Tread lightly on the dreams of heroes’, June 13).

Perhaps Manus suffers from goldfish syndrome.

This would entail swallowing whole whatever crumbs are being served, then promptly forgetting their content, a memory sustained only, if at all, until the next line is fed.

The first hunger strike ended not because of British duplicity but because of the humanity of the late Brendan Hughes.

The second hunger strike continued far longer than it needed because of the inhumanity of those managing it on the outside, to whom the hunger strikers were merely more cannon fodder for their ambitions.

This heartbreaking fact does not in any way whatsoever impinge on the integrity of the hunger strikers.

In fact, it makes them all the more noble as they had little idea of the manner in which they were being abused by their own – and remained committed to their beliefs to the end.

The same cannot be said and will no longer ever be believed about those who led them.

Sourced from the Irish News

Irish News letters page: (S)he who paid the piper

(S)he who paid the piper
Irish News letters page
Manus McDaid, Derry

SAM Greer of Belfast asks ‘Who killed the hunger strikers?’ (August 28).

Mr Greer says: “It is common knowledge that six lives [of the hunger strikers] could have been spared in a deal offered by the British”.

I, as a life-long republican, never heard of this.

Britain double-crossed the first hunger strike, I know.

And, when Bobby Sands died on the second hunger strike, Britain’s premier said he was a terrorist convict and chose to take his own life.

The people of Cappagh know better now – you either accept the integrity of the hunger strikers or you don’t.

Mr Greer asks ‘What was it all about?’ – What planet has he been on for the last 50 years?

Sourced from the Irish News

Irish News letters page: Who killed the hunger strikers?

Who killed the hunger strikers?
Irish News letters page
Sam Greer, Belfast

If the people of Cappagh in Co Tyrone love the hunger strikers as much as Francie Molloy says they do, they should ask what those men died for.

It is common knowledge that six lives could have been spared in a deal offered by the British which was turned down by the leadership outside to garner votes for the future British administration in Stormont. Like the loyalists, the republican leadership was bought out.

To the people of Cappagh, I ask: What was it all about?

Sourced from the Irish News

Irish News letters page: Tread lightly on the dreams of heroes

Tread lightly on the dreams of heroes
Irish News letters page
Manus McDaid, Derry

I refer to two letters – one from Richard O’Rawe, ‘Let’s have the whole truth about the Hunger Strike’ (April 9) and that from Gerard Hodgins, ex-blanket man, titled ‘The martyrs of Long Kesh deserve the truth of those dark days’ (June 8).

Without becoming embroiled in protestations about the extent of the ‘whole truth’ or the genuine sense of reservation about the ‘truth’ of the Hunger Strikes, it strikes me that both writers for their own reasons are seeking the impossible.

A prisoner from Armagh Jail summed it up well when she said – to paraphrase – that to intend and to do are entirely different things.

The first Hunger Strike ended by prisoners accepting the word of the London government that changes in the prison regime would happen.

The London government reneged. Thus began the second Hunger Strike – with, I believe, a determination that definite written and personal undertakings would be given to the prisoners with respect to regime change. That didn’t happen either.

Now there are those who want to separate the no-wash protests from the hunger strikes – to seek publicity.

They are at least doing a disservice to comrades living and dead and at worst cynically abusing their sacrifice.

Sourced from the Irish News


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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.