The Irish Republican Socialist movement have claimed that their seven year investigation into the 1981 Long Kesh hunger strikes has “conclusively” found that there was an offer made by the British government to the prisoners that could have saved lives.
Richard O’Rawe, who was at the announcement of the findings last night (Wednesday) at Cliftonville Community Centre, claimed in his 2005 book Blanketmen that terms for ending the strike were accepted by the prisoners' leadership in Long Kesh but were rejected by IRA commanders outside.
His version of events has been rejected by leading republican figures including IRA commander in the prison at the time Bik McFarlane.
Speaking at the public meeting IRSP spokesman Willie Gallagher said the investigation, conducted by members of the IRSP, “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,” he said.
“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 the Gerry 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 initiative, as were the INLA prisoners in the H-Blocks and the Hunger Strikers themselves."
North Belfast IRSP Ard Comhairle representative, Paul Little, called for a ‘transparent and independent’ enquiry into the events.
The Teach na Failte Hunger Strikes exhibition at Cliftonville Community Centre continues until tomorrow (April 13).