Secret Irish government files just released into the public domain claim that Bobby Sands offered to suspend his hunger strike just a week before his death.
The sensational claims will feature in an RTE television documentary on Friday night, 30 years after 10 men died in the H-Block protests.
IRA sources have denied that Sands ever made such a gesture but the files, released on Friday morning, clearly state that the offer was conveyed to the British government by then Papal secretary, John Magee.
The documents, part of many relating to the hunger strikes released under the 30-year rule, report on a meeting between Sands and Magee, later to become the Bishop of Cloyne.
Two priests and three other prisoners are reported to have witnessed the meeting between Sands and Magee, just seven days before the IRA prisoner lost his life.
At a subsequent meeting, Father Magee told Northern Secretary Humphrey Atkins that Sands had said he would suspend his strike in return for discussions with a British government official.
The British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher and her government rejected the offer out of hand, claiming it was an attempt to open negotiations.
Following the publication of the claims on Friday, senior Republicans involved in the hunger strike have told RTÉ News that they had ‘never heard of such an offer’.
They also said it ‘went against’ everything Bobby Sands did and said during the hunger strikes.
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