THE Irish Republican Socialist Party (IRSP) have repeated claims that the Provisional IRA leadership prolonged the 1981 hunger strike to gain political capital.
A series of public meetings were held in north Belfast last week and amongst those on the panel was Strabane IRSP spokesman, Willie Gallagher and former public relations officer for the IRA in the Maze in 1981, Richard O’Rawe-who in recent writings has claimed the British Government offered a ‘deal’ which satisfied the majority of the hunger strikers five demands.
The claims from the IRSP and Mr O’Rawe claim that the deal apparently offered by the British side would have saved the lives of five of the hunger strikers.
Willie Gallagher said the results of a seven year long IRSP investigation now conclusively reveals that a deal was on offer.
He said: “The seven year IRSP investigation into the revelations, first disclosed in 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’ five 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.
“The provisional IRA leadership in Long Kesh, during the 1981 hunger strike, accepted the offer as it met most of the H-Block prisoners’ five demands.”
But he added that the committee “known as ‘the Kitchen Cabinet’ rejected and overruled the jail leadership’s acceptance of the deal.”
“The INLA and IRSP leadership outside the jail 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,” he said.
At the end of the series of public meetings the IRSP restated their position that only a transparent and independent enquiry into the events surrounding the 1981 hunger strike and secret negotiations would satisfy the broad republican community.