Archive for June, 2009

Hunger Strikers’ families challenge false claims over deaths

Posted in marcella on 27 June 2009 by micheailin

An Phoblacht
25 June 2009

THE families of the majority of the men who died during the 1981 Hunger Strike have rejected as “false” the claims being made about the fast and the deaths of six of the H-Block prisoners.
The families are particularly incensed at the claims – raised by former H-Block prisoner Richard O’Rawe and repeated by the British media – that Margaret Thatcher’s government offered the protesting prisoners a deal and that this was rejected by the leadership of the Republican Movement out of political expediency.

PRIVATE MEETING

According to a statement released by members of the Hunger Strikers’ families who attended a private meeting in Gulladuff, County Derry, last week (Wednesday 17 June) “our loved ones made the supreme sacrifice on hunger strike for their comrades. They were not dupes. They were dedicated and committed republicans. We are clear that it was the British Government which refused to negotiate and refused to concede their just demands.”
The Gulladuff meeting was attended by Sinn Féin President Gerry Adams, Danny Morrison (who liaised with the Hunger Strikers in 1981) and prisoners’ O/C Brendan ‘Bik’ McFarlane as well as family members of eight of the ten dead Hunger Strikers.
None of Kevin Lynch’s family could attend the meeting but sent a message of support.

BLATANT LIES

In their statement the Hunger Strikers’ relatives repudiated the account, which were blatant lies, of the Gulladuff meeting circulated by IRSP spokesperson Willie Gallagher who maintained that Michael Óg Devine (whose father Mickey was the last Hunger Striker to die) and Tony O’Hara (brother of Patsy) were shouted down.
Gallagher alleged his account was based on a report of the meeting relayed to him by Michael Óg Devine and Tony O’Hara.
The Gulladuff meeting allowed the families of the dead Hunger Strikers the opportunity to ask questions or raise any concerns they may have had about the period.
The majority of those at the meeting were satisfied with its outcome but were angry at the false account circulated by Gallagher.
In their statement, members of the Hughes, McCreesh, McDonnell, Hurson, Doherty, McElwee and Devine families repudiated the Gallagher version of the meeting and rejected any suggestion that Michael Óg Devine, who remained silent throughout, was ‘shouted down’ or ‘bullied’.
Michael Óg Devine did not in fact speak during the meeting.

Below is the full text of the families’ statement

“Wednesday evening’s meeting was a very emotional and difficult occasion for all of us, particularly in light of the allegations coming from Richard O’Rawe and the IRSP.
“All of the family members who spoke, with the exception of Tony O’Hara, expressed deep anger and frustration at the ongoing allegations created by O’Rawe.
“Tony O’Hara’s suggestion that we should meet with Richard O’Rawe and Willie Gallagher got no support and we asked Tony to express to Richard O’Rawe and Willie Gallagher our wish for them to stop what they are doing and to give us peace of mind.
“The account of the meeting published by Willie Gallagher is inaccurate and offensive.
“Our loved ones made the supreme sacrifice on hunger strike for their comrades. They were not dupes. They were dedicated and committed republicans. We are clear that it was the British Government which refused to negotiate and refused to concede their just demands.”

Danny Morrison who liaised with the Hunger Strikers in 1981 attended the meeting.

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Hunger strikers’ families call for 1981 inquiry

Posted in marcella on 17 June 2009 by micheailin

Derry Journal
16 June 2009

The families of two Derry hunger strikers are calling for an independent inquiry into the events of the 1981 prison protest during which ten republicans died.

The families of INLA hunger strikers Patsy O’Hara and Michael Devine made the call after a meeting held in south Derry last week between Sinn Féin president Gerry Adams and relatives of a number of the men who died in Long Kesh.

The call for a new probe into the period comes amid the debate over controversial claims by former blanketman, Richard O’Rawe, who claims that the IRA leadership outside Long Kesh rejected a deal which could have ended the fast and saved the lives of six of the hunger strikers, including Michael Devine.

The claim was backed by a number of former prisoners at a public meeting held in the Gasyard Centre several weeks ago but denied by Sinn Féin.

Tony O’Hara, brother of Patsy, and Mickey Og Devine, son of Michael, in a joint statement, said an independent probe is the only way the families can get peace of mind about what happened in 1981.

“At a recent meeting in the Gasyard, Derry City, which we attended, compelling and disturbing evidence (was put forward] revealing that an offer made by the British which conceded four of the five demands, was accepted by the prison IRA leadership and rejected by elements of the outside IRA leadership.

“These claims, which have been supported by former blanket men and ex-hunger striker,s have led us to conclude that only an independent Republican Inquiry, free from party political affiliations, can heal the wounds of our families that this controversy has re-opened. We are only interested in the facts, the evidence and the truth, and we would hope that all republicans would support us in our call and bring and end to this controversy so that we, the families, have peace of mind as to what really happened during this period,” the statement said.

Their call was backed by IRSP Ard Comhairle member Martin McMonagle.
“Given the contradictory statements emanating from various spokespeople from Sinn Féin on this matter and the refusal of these people to partake in the recent discussion held in the Gasyard centre in Derry, we are firmly of the opinion that such an inquiry is the only course of action open to the republican community,” he said.

SF to meet hunger strike families over deal ‘myth’

Posted in marcella on 15 June 2009 by micheailin

By Seamus McKinney
Irish News
13/06/2009

The Sinn Fein leadership has organised a meeting with families of the 1981 hunger strikers to discuss recent controversy about the period.

Families of the 10 men who died were notified this week about the meeting at Gulladuff in south Derry on Wednesday.

It is understood Sinn Fein president Gerry Adams and others connected to the 1981 protest will attend.

The discussion follows a number of claims in recent months about a possible deal which might have saved the lives of five or possibly six of the hunger strikers.

The meeting will be the first time the party leadership has held direct talks with the families since the controversy arose. It is being seen as a bid to stop the issue gaining further momentum.

Claims that a deal could have saved lives first arose in 2005 when Richard O’Rawe – who acted as publicity officer for the 1981 hunger strikers – published his account of the period.

In his book, Mr O’Rawe said a deal was sanctioned by Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher hours before Joe McDonnell died.

However, Mr O’Rawe alleged it was rejected by the IRA leadership outside the prison because it wished to capitalise on political gains.

This was rejected by the Sinn Fein group which managed the hunger strike from outside the prison, insisting the deal was not guaranteed.

The dispute continued this year when a number of documents released under the Freedom of Information Act appeared to confirm details of a deal being offered to the IRA on July 8 1981.

Next week’s meeting has received a mixed response from families of the hunger strikers.

Tony O’Hara, whose brother Patsy died before the alleged deal, said his family and that of Michael Devine (both INLA hunger strikers) were considering whether to attend.

The IRSP claimed the meeting was “another attempt to mislead and confuse”.

Spokesman Martin McMonagle said a full inquiry into the issue – demanded recently by former hunger striker Gerard Hodgkins – was the only way forward.

“We have come to this conclusion because of the weight of evidence from wide-ranging sources who were directly involved which clearly contradicts the Sinn Fein version of events,” he said.

However, Oliver Hughes, a brother of Francis Hughes and a cousin of Thomas McElwee, supported the Sinn Fein leadership.

He said while he could not attend because of business commitments his family would be represented.

Mr Hughes said he was angry that the pain of the hunger strikes was being revisited on the families.

“I would question what the motive is for bringing this up again 28 years on,” he said.

“I support the leadership of the republican movement in arranging this meeting. I believe Adams and his colleagues feel they must make some reply.”

Sinn Fein last night confirmed that a “private meeting” had been organised.

A spokesman said the issue was raised a number of times during recent meetings organised by the party leadership.

“As a result of these meetings it was decided that we should organise a meeting for all the relatives of the hunger strikers to allow them to come together as a group and discuss issues both amongst themselves and with the Sinn Fein leadership,” he said.

Time for an Inquiry

Posted in marcella on 15 June 2009 by micheailin

Today The Pensive Quill carries an article by guest writer, blanketman and former hunger striker Gerard Hodgins on the topic of the 1981 hunger strike

By Gerard Hodgins
The Pensive Quill
6 June 2009

In 1976 the British introduced the criminalisation policy which decreed that captured Republican volunteer soldiers would henceforth be treated as criminals, being forced to wear a criminal uniform and having no recognition whatsoever as political prisoners. This led to the Blanket Protest and subsequent hunger strikes which convulsed our society, but which did open a window of opportunity to develop a political alternative to armed struggle.

Those of us who were intimately involved in those dark days still carry with us each and every day a reminder of what that all entailed. The horrors of the H-Blocks leap into our consciousness at some point of each and every day; memories of Bobby, Francie, Raymey, Patsy, Joe, Martin, Kevin, Kieran, Tom and Red Mick and their horrific deaths through starvation are a constant. It is an indelible mark upon our lives and one we endured through a comforting prism that our ten friends and comrades were part of a greater struggle to achieve independence and freedom against an intransigent enemy who would not buckle and instead seemed to gloat in the deaths of Irishmen in British prisons on Irish soil.

The comforting narrative ran that the combined intelligence and commitment of the Republican Movement could not bend the Iron Lady, but won honour and political legitimacy through our combined efforts at resisting and exposing criminalisation as the fallacy that it was. The cost was high: five years held naked in extreme conditions of brutality and sensory deprivation culminating in two hunger strikes which claimed ten of our friends, fellow Blanket Men.

That narrative has been seriously challenged in recent years with stories of deals being offered by the British and accepted by the prison O/C, only to be overturned by the Leadership on the outside, thus prolonging the hunger strike and creating a question mark over the deaths of the last six hunger strikers to die.

Events surrounding those dark days were examined at a meeting in Derry recently, organised under the auspices of The Republican Network for Unity. Unfortunately Gerry Adams and the Provisional leadership of the day refused to attend or send a representative to contribute to the proceedings. I find it ironic Gerry can run to meetings in New York and San Francisco to discuss Irish unity with the diaspora yet cannot find the time or courtesy to attend a meeting in his own back yard with ex-Blanket Men and other interested parties of the day, about an issue so crucial to those of us who endured the Blanket protests and hunger strikes.

Recent revelations have pointed to the need for clarity, full disclosure and honesty on the part of all who were involved in those secret negotiations/discussions. I would appeal for all these people, for the sake of our memories and in the service of truth, to agree to co-operate with an inquiry into all aspects associated with this traumatic time in our history which has been thrown into such question with the reports and evidence that a deal could have been secured before Joe McDonnell died.

A genie has been let out of the bottle and thrown the perceived narrative of the horrors of 1981 into question. One thing is certain of those days and which no question mark hangs over: the Blanket Men fought courageously and the hunger strikers died martyrs and their commitment and sacrifice can never be sullied, questioned or diminished in any way.

The final piece of the jigsaw which has remained hidden from view to this day is the actions and reasons for those actions on behalf of the leadership who guided us. It is time for answers and explanations to be offered.

I am not a member or supporter of any political party, grouping or organisation. I am a supporter of peace and politics and don’t advocate any sort of return to the days of war: I am not on a Sinn Fein bashing exercise and have tried to be measured with my words. I am an ex-Blanket Man who was there and would welcome some insight into the secrets of 28 years ago.

Gerry Adams to meet Hunger Strikers Families; Inquiry Sought

Posted in marcella on 15 June 2009 by micheailin

Slugger O’Toole
13 June 09

**Comments onsite

This week in South Derry, bowing to pressure from recent revelations that have reduced aspects of the standard Provisional narrative of the 1981 hunger strike to self-serving propaganda, Gerry Adams and members of the 1981 PIRA sub-committee for the Hunger Strike will meet privately with members of hunger strikers’ families. This comes as a former hunger striker and other Blanketmen, and the families of hunger strikers Patsy O’Hara and Mickey Devine, have made public calls for a full inquiry into the events of July, 1981.  It has been established an offer, approved by Thatcher, which met 4 of the 5 demands, was conveyed through the Mountain Climber link via Brendan Duddy, to Martin McGuinness in Derry, who in turn brought it to Gerry Adams, Jim Gibney, Tom Hartley and Danny Morrison in Belfast. Danny Morrison gave details of the offer to prison OC Bik McFarlane, who then discussed it with PRO for the Hunger Strikers, Richard O’Rawe. They both agreed there was enough there in the offer to end the hunger strike; Bik McFarlane said he would send word out of the acceptance. This conversation was overhead by a number of nearby prisoners who have come forward corroborating it. Brendan Duddy has confirmed that the response he got from the Adams committee was rejection: “More was needed.” Six hunger strikers subsequently died. The British had the prison authorities implement the substance of the July offer three days after the hunger strike finally ended in October, 1981.

The question remains, why did the Adams committee over-rule the prisoners’ acceptance of the offer? The answer to this will need to be supported and not undermined by known facts and evidence. This has been the demonstrable problem with the narrative constructed by Danny Morrison, and the shifting denials that have come since the publication of Richard O’Rawe’s book, Blanketmen in 2005. The denials and half-baked explanations have been continually eroded and fatally undermined by facts and evidence. Brian Rowan’s recent interview with Bik McFarlane is a masterstudy in this. It was ridiculous. The problem for those who support denying the truth is that more evidence continues to emerge as more time goes by, and they cannot know what will come next. So the lie of yesterday gets changed by the evidence which arrives tomorrow; this is something that only by telling the truth today they can prepare for. If they continue to lie, they continue to expose themselves further. This self-serving cover-up only protects those who have something to hide. The courage and integrity of the protesting prisoners, the hunger strikers and their sacrifice is not under question, nor will be sullied by the betrayal of the Adams committee.

UPDATE: Statement from the families of hunger strikers Patsy O’Hara and Mickey Devine included below .

The families of hunger strikers Patsy O’Hara and Mickey Devine have issued a statement calling for a public inquiry:

“We, the O Hara and Devine families, would also wish to put on public record our full support for an independent Republican Inquiry, which was first called for by ex-Hunger Striker Gerard Hodgins, into the controversial claims surrounding the events of the 1981 Hunger Strike.

At a recent meeting in the Gasyard, Derry City, which we attended, compelling and disturbing evidence revealing that an offer made by the British which conceded four of the five demands, was accepted by the prison IRA leadership and rejected by elements of the outside IRA leadership.

These claims which have been supported by former blanket men and ex-hunger strikers have led us to conclude that only an independent Republican Inquiry, free from party political affiliations, can heal the wounds of our families that this controversy has re-opened. We are only interested in the facts, the evidence and the truth and we would hope that all republicans would support us in our call and bring and end to this controversy so that we, the families, have peace of mind as to what really happened during this period.”

Tony O Hara, on behalf of the O Hara family
Mickey Og Devine, on behalf of the Devine family
13-06-09

Former Hunger Striker and Blanketman Gerard Hodgins and Blanketman Thomas “Dixie” Elliott have made public calls for a full inquiry into the questions hanging over the 1981 hunger strike.

Gerard Hodgins:

Recent revelations have pointed to the need for clarity, full disclosure and honesty on the part of all who were involved in those secret negotiations/discussions. I would appeal for all these people, for the sake of our memories and in the service of truth, to agree to co-operate with an inquiry into all aspects associated with this traumatic time in our history which has been thrown into such question with the reports and evidence that a deal could have been secured before Joe McDonnell died.

A genie has been let out of the bottle and thrown the perceived narrative of the horrors of 1981 into question. One thing is certain of those days and which no question mark hangs over: the Blanket Men fought courageously and the hunger strikers died martyrs and their commitment and sacrifice can never be sullied, questioned or diminished in any way.

The final piece of the jigsaw which has remained hidden from view to this day is the actions and reasons for those actions on behalf of the leadership who guided us. It is time for answers and explanations to be offered.

I am not a member or supporter of any political party, grouping or organisation. I am a supporter of peace and politics and don’t advocate any sort of return to the days of war: I am not on a Sinn Fein bashing exercise and have tried to be measured with my words. I am an ex-Blanket Man who was there and would welcome some insight into the secrets of 28 years ago.

Thomas “Dixie” Elliott:

The whole argument has now gone from the Prison Leadership accepting what was on offer on July 5th to its rejection from outside and just why was it rejected. The families are entitled to these answers as are the friends and comrades of the men who died. What we don’t need is the usual attempt to smear those who ask these questions […] Those asking these questions are former Blanket Men with no agenda only the truth. I myself am not a member of any group nor party and I am now firmly opposed to the use of Armed Struggle as I saw too many give their lives for what was effectively on the table in 1973. We need closure in this and I feel that both sides need to come together in a debate open to all so that answers can be obtained.

The IRSP, along with the families of two hunger strikers, the O’Haras and the Devines, have also called for an inquiry:

The IRSP wish to put on public record our support for an open independent republican inquiry into the truth behind the 1981 hunger strike as called for by the O Hara and Devine families and also by former IRA hunger striker Gerard Hodgkins.

Given the contradictory statements emanating from various spokespeople from Sinn Fein on this matter and the refusal of these people to partake in the recent discussion held in the Gasyard center in Derry we are firmly of the opinion that such an inquiry is the only course of action open to the republican community.  We have come to this conclusion because of the weight of evidence from wide ranging sources who were directly involved which clearly contradicts the Sinn Fein version of events and which furthermore suggests that the lives of the last six hungerstrikers may have been saved.

The forthcoming Sinn Fein closed meeting with the families of the ten hunger strikers is purely another attempt to mislead and confuse events surrounding the 1981 hunger strike.

Adams’ meeting with the families is to take place at Gulladuff in south Derry on Wednesday.

Clearly, a private meeting in the back of beyond will not suffice. The 1981 hunger strike left a massive imprint on the public consciousness, and has been an emotive issue used by Sinn Fein ever since. Bobby Sands’ face famously graces the side of the political party’s Belfast headquarters; it could be said that the images, symbolism and emotion of the hunger strike have been incorporated – literally – into the Sinn Fein brand. The public have the right to the truth – told publicly.

 

Cartoon, “More Questions than Answers”, courtesy of John Kennedy

 

Earlier on Slugger:

“This is a huge opportunity and I feel there’s a potential here to end this” Bik McFarlane miraculously recovers his memory and completely backtracks on every denial he had made previously, while also making up new, contradictory details never before mentioned

“I will not be attending and will not send a representative” Gerry Adams refuses to attend public meeting about the hunger strikes; extremely revealing discussion in the comments section

1981 Hunger Strike Truth Commission Includes text of British document of July offer and transcript of Willie Gallagher’s speech at the Derry meeting

The Truth is a Heartbreaking Thing Initial summary of Derry meeting

Upcoming Debate: “What is the Truth Behind the Hunger Strike?” Announcement of public meeting and note of Radio Foyle debate between Raymond McCartney and Richard O’Rawe (also discussed on The Pensive Quill: A Shifting Narrative)

When in a hole… Contrasts between Danny Morrison’s position and previously published accounts of the time

What were the hunger strikers told? Questions emerge that cast doubt on what the hunger strikers knew when about what negotiations were being conducted on their behalf by the Adams subcommittee.

“Let’s have the whole truth” – Danny Morrison and Richard O’Rawe statements

Did Thatcher Kill All 10 or Only 4? – contains statements and interview excerpts

Links and background:

1986 excerpt from interview with John Blelloch, Mi5, by Padraig O’Malley (Bobby Sands Trust website)
“The Blelloch Interview”, Anthony McIntyre

Sunday 5 April 09:
‘Adams Complicit Over Hunger Strikers?’
NIO Documents on Sunday Times website
“The Thatcher Intervention”, Anthony McIntyre
IRSP Statement in response to NIO documents

Monday, 6 April 09:
Irish News: Hunger Strike deal ‘must be disclosed’
Irish Times: SF denies claims on hunger strike deaths
Radio Foyle, The Morning Programme (link lasts a week): Willie Gallagher, IRSP and Danny Morrison, begins @ 8 mins
Response from Kevin McQuillan to comments made by Danny Morrison in the Radio Foyle interview; scroll down a bit.

Tuesday, 7 April 09:
Irish News: Morrison rubbishes renewed claims of Hunger Strike deal
Bobby Sands Trust: Documents Still Withheld

Previously on Slugger:
O’Rawe’s account confirmed: Hunger Strikers Allowed To Die (28 March 08)
Eamon McCann verifies Richard O’Rawe’s account of the 1981 hunger strike in which he alleges that six of the hunger strikers need not have died as the prisoners had agreed to accept an offer from the Mountainclimber, only to be over-ruled by Gerry Adams.

Hunger Strike Controversy Has Not Gone Away, You Know (17 April 08)
Many background links

O’Rawe and the Derry Journal (18 April 08)
Crucial question still unanswered

Blanketmen, by Richard O’Rawe
Danny Morrison
Jim Gibney
O’Rawe response to Gibney
Brendan McFarlane
Brendan Hughes
Interview with Richard O’Rawe

Further reading:

Irish News: Allegations of a rejected deal spark fury among republicans (1 March 2005)
Irish News: Was my father’s death PR exercise? (1 March 2005)
Irish News: Monsignor Faul regrets his ‘late intervention’ (1 March 2005)
Irish News: Hunger strikers’ lives not sacrificed — family (2 March 2005)
Daily Ireland: Hunger Strikers Story Brought to Book, Danny Morrison (2 March 2005)
Irish News: Hunger strikers’ deaths must be fully explained, says author (3 March 2005)
The Guardian: Hunger strike claims rile H-block veterans (4 March 2005)
Daily Ireland: McFarlane denies Hunger Strike deal was struck (4 March 2005)
Irish Times: Hunger strikers wanted more than vague promises, Danny Morrison (5 March 2005)
The Village: H-Block Hypocrisy (12 March 2005)
The Village: For the cause or caucus, Hugh Logue (ICJP) reviews O’Rawe’s Blanketmen (19 March 2005)

 

British ‘had no intention of resolving the hunger strike’

Posted in marcella on 4 June 2009 by micheailin

Brian Rowan
Belfast Telegraph
Thursday, 4 June 2009

The IRA jail leader during the 1981 hunger strike today said the British Government never had any intention of resolving the notorious prison dispute in which 10 men starved to death.

Brendan ‘Bic’ McFarlane accused the then Thatcher Government of trying to resolve the prison protest “on their terms” while attempting to “wreck” the IRA in the process.

Brendan ‘Bic’ McFarlane

McFarlane, speaking in an exclusive interview for the Belfast Telegraph, again dismissed claims that he accepted an offer secretly communicated by the British that summer, but was overruled by the Army Council on the outside.

The suggestion first emerged in the controversial book Blanketmen — written by former prisoner Richard O’Rawe, who was part of the IRA jail leadership in 1981.

A British offer on the prisoners’ demands was communicated in the summer of that year through a secret contact channel which was codenamed Mountain Climber.

And, on Sunday, July 5, the senior republican Danny Morrison was allowed into the Maze to separately brief McFarlane and the hunger strikers.

“Something was going down,” McFarlane 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.”

But he said he also made clear that more was needed — that the British had to “expand the offer, and they need to go into the prison hospital”.

McFarlane said this was key — that the Government detail its offer directly to the hunger strikers.

“They (the hunger strikers) were at pains to say the Brits need to come forward,” he said.

“They need to expand on it (the offer),” he continued, “and stand over it?and it needed to be underwritten in whatever shape, form or fashion the British chose to do that. It needed to be confirmed,” he said.

McFarlane said at the time this had also been made clear to the Irish Commission for Justice and Peace.

“They (the Commission) went directly to the British and urged them to send someone in,” McFarlane continued.

“The British indicated clearly that they were sending someone in, and it didn’t happen.

Looking back at the events of 1981, McFarlane said: “It seems very clear that they didn’t have an intention to resolve it to an acceptable degree — that we felt was acceptable.

“They were going to resolve it on their terms and wreck us in the process,” he said.

McFarlane: Key Dates

1951 – born Belfast.

1968 – left Belfast to train as a priest.

1970 – left seminary in Wales and later joined IRA.

1976 – life sentence for gun and bomb attack on Bayardo Bar in Belfast (August 1975, five killed).

1981 – IRA jail leader during hunger strike. Ten men died (7 IRA, 3 INLA).

1983 – he escaped from the Maze in IRA breakout.

1986 – re-arrested in Amsterdam, extradited and returned to Maze Prison.

1998 – release papers signed January 5.

Now – Sinn Fein party activist based in north Belfast

My crucial discussion with the Maze strikers

When Brendan McFarlane met Danny Morrison in the jail that Sunday afternoon in July 1981, four hunger strikers were dead and another Joe McDonnell “was in an appalling state”.

The jail leader knew that Morrison’s presence meant something was happening.

For months — since the first hunger strike of 1980 — he had been banned from the jail, and, now, on a Sunday when there were no visits the prison gates had opened for him.

The man from the outside was allowed in to explain the Mountain Climber contacts and the offer the British had communicated.

And the fact that the British were in contact — albeit through a conduit now known to be the Derry businessman Brendan Duddy — was progress.

After meeting Morrison, McFarlane met the hunger strikers.

“We went through it step by step,” he said. “The hunger strikers themselves said: OK the Brits are prepared to do business — possibly, but what is detailed, or what has been outlined here isn’t enough to conclude the hunger strike.

“And they said to me, what do I think?

“And I said I concur with your analysis — fair enough — but you need to make your minds up,” he continued.

The hunger strikers, according to both McFarlane and Morrison wanted the British to send someone into the prison.

McFarlane continued: “Something had to be written down. Something had to be produced to the hunger strikers, even to the extent that the Brits were saying, there it is, nothing more, take it or leave it, and that’s the way the lads wanted clarity on this.

“We were never given a piece of paper,” he added.