IRSP investigation on hunger strike deal vindicates O’Rawe, calls for independent inquiry

On Wednesday, April 11, Teach na Failte (the organisation of former Republican Socialist POWs) hosted a public meeting in Belfast on the 1981 Hunger Strike, the first in a 3-day exhibition and series of public meetings on the H-Block campaign era held in Cliftonvile Community Centre in the north of the city.

The meeting was chaired by Teach na Failte representative Paul Little and included invited speaker Richard O’Rawe, former PRO of the Provisional IRA H-Block prisoners during the Hunger Strike and author of  Blanketmen and Afterlives.  Also on the panel was Rab Collins, the former O/C of INLA prisoners in the H-Blocks  during the 1981 Hunger Strike,  and Willie Gallagher, a former INLA blanketman and present-day IRSP spokesperson. Former Sinn Fein publicity director Danny Morrison and former H-Block O/C of the Provisional IRA prisoners during the 1981 Hunger Strike Bik McFarlane were both invited to take part in the public meeting but neither attended.

Willie Gallagher took the opportunity to reveal the definitive findings of a 7-year-long IRSP investigation into the reported existence of a ‘deal’ offered by British government representatives during the secret ‘Mountain Climber’ negotiations at the time of the 1981 H-Block hunger strike which would have met the majority of the H-Block protesting prisoners’ five demands and saved the lives of at least five of the hunger strikers.  He stated, “the 7-year IRSP investigation into the revelations, first disclosed in February 2005 in the book Blanketmen, has conclusively found that Ricky O’Rawe has been consistently telling the truth! There is now no doubt on the factual existence of a substantial deal offered by British government negotiators that could have saved the lives of many of the hunger strikers and met most of the prisoners’ 5 demands.  It is now a matter of fact that a substantial ‘deal’ from the British representatives did indeed go into the H-Blocks on the 5th July, 1981.”

Willie continued, “the Provisional IRA leadership in Long Kesh during the 1981 hunger strike accepted the offer as it met most of the H-Block prisoners’ 5 demands but the Adams-led committee known as ‘the Kitchen Cabinet’ rejected and over-ruled the gaol leadership’s acceptance of the deal.  The INLA and IRSP leadership outside the gaol were kept completely in the dark about the ‘Mountain Climber’ initiative, as were the INLA prisoners in the H-Blocks and the hunger strikers themselves.”

At the conclusion of the hunger strike public meeting, Teach na Failte representative Paul Little restated the IRSP position that only a transparent and independent inquiry into the events surrounding the 1981 hunger strike and the secret ‘Mountain Climber’ negotiations will now satisfy the broad Republican community.  The hunger strikes exhibition and public meetings will continue until Friday 13th April, 2012

For further details, contact Teach na Failte:
Gerry Foster: (028) 90323416 / 07871205565 or  Paul Little: 07590384792

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Posted on April 13, 2012, in 1981 hunger strike, 21st century republicanism and socialism, Commemorations, General revolutionary history, Hunger strikes, IRSP, Political education and theory, Provos - then and now, Public events - Ireland, Repression and resistance in 1970s and 1980s. Bookmark the permalink. Comments Off on IRSP investigation on hunger strike deal vindicates O’Rawe, calls for independent inquiry.

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