British government offered to end hunger strikes in 1981 in return for IRA ceasefire
Deal was almost done according to papers released after Thatcher death
British state papers just released claim that Margaret Thatcher’s government offered to end the hunger strikes in return for an IRA ceasefire in 1981 – and the IRA was close to agreement.
The Irish Times reports on the claims made in confidential papers just released by the Thatcher Foundation.
It says the documents include ‘secret memos which point to a conviction in senior British government circles up to and including the British prime minister Margaret Thatcher that some in the IRA wanted its campaign to stop’.
The paper says the chief reference is in the minute that the then Northern secretary Humphrey Atkins sent to Mrs Thatcher on July 6th when an intermediary, businessman Brendan Duddy from Derry, was exchanging messages between Provisional leaders and the British government.
The Thatcher Foundation papers suggest this prompted an offer from the British government to settle the hunger strikes at a stage in which just four people had died.
The offer led to a long-running dispute within republicanism.
Then IRA prisoner Richard O’Rawe has repeatedly claimed that the prisoners’ leadership accepted a deal at that time to end the strike but that this was overruled by the IRA army council.
Senior Sinn Féin figures Gerry Adams and Danny Morrison have consistently denied the claim.
In the minute sent by Atkins to Thatcher, he said there were ‘some’ in the IRA leadership who wished ‘to consider an end of the current terrorist campaign’.
The papers also claim that the British government had held this view for some time.
The documents also contain a memo from the then British cabinet secretary Sir Robert Armstrong to another senior official, conveyed to Thatcher, which also adverts to an IRA desire to end its campaign.
The memo was written on April 13th 1981, just four days after hunger striker Bobby Sands was elected as MP for Fermanagh-South Tyrone. He died on May 5th.
Armstrong wrote: “There is reason to believe that the PIRA have been thinking seriously about an end to the campaign of violence, but feel they need a success, an avenue to pursue their aims politically, and something more on the prison regime.
“The Fermanagh by-election has given them the success, and a political opening, which there is reason to think they hope to follow up in the local government elections.”
The private papers confirm that while Thatcher refused publicly to deal with Provisional republicans during the hunger strikes, she did allow official contact to take place through a mediator.
The Irish Times says she was ‘prepared up to a point to allow a settlement’.
15 - 219 | See all comments
- Gay wedding cakes latest target of anti-gay...
- Racist incidents in Ireland up by 85 percent...
- A Magdalene Laundry US adoptee who holds...
- Irish radio presenter suspended after anti-Isra
- An open letter in strong defence of capitalism.
- Baby dies in horror birth at Belfast hospital...
- Gay teacher fired from Catholic school after...
- Sarah Palin is saving Christmas
- Families as well as Catholic Church and governm
- Bill O’Reilly slams Nelson Mandela as an...
One of the worst things is people who don't acknoledge the Pagan roots of what we now call "Christmas". When you gather around the ChristmaGay wedding cakes latest target of anti-gay bigots
If they stop baking wedding cakes for everyone to prevent them from baking a cake for even one gay couple, it's an action still motivated by bigotry aOffensive NFL sign outside restaurant just a symptom of a larger problem
@thetint Well you see Native Americans were already consulted on this issue (many years ago) and have okayed the use of "Redskins," "ClOffensive NFL sign outside restaurant just a symptom of a larger problem
If the Native Americans object to the word 'Redskins' then they should be listened to and engaged with.