Thatcher secret move to end hunger strikes

Published Friday, 30 December 2011
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Details of former Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher's secret attempts to end the 1981 IRA hunger strikes have been revealed in official documents made public for the very first time.

Files released by the National Archives in London show how her government sent messages to the IRA leadership through a secret intermediary promising concessions to prisoners held in the Maze if the strikes were called off.

The hunger strikes triggered one of the worst crises of the Troubles.

Concessions included allowing the prisoners to wear their own clothes, rather than prison uniform, and to receive normal visits.

Negotiations were fraught and concessions rejected.

The files also contain claims one hunger striker - Raymond McCreesh - wanted his life to be saved but his family prevented medical intervention, allegations the family reject.

In a statement to UTV the family has described the claims as "untrue, inaccurate and falsified".

It continued: "The family has always been convinced the situation was deliberately engineered by authorities in Government and the prison service to break the hunger strike".

"Agents of the State abused the extremely vulnerable condition of a dying man for political and propaganda purposes. When their efforts failed they attempted to vilify the family".

The document also reveals how current First Minister Peter Robinson then believed a civil war could break out before Christmas 1981 following the murder of a Unionist politician and amid an increase in violence.

© UTV News
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15 Comments
Danny Kelly in Belfast. wrote (1,004 days ago):
The notion that anyone can be ordered to die of starvation is just as ridiculous as the notion, that anyone would actually obey such an order. I have never heard of common thugs, as some people like to think of the hunger strikers, dying in such a way, for a principle. Indeed if the Hunger strikers are to be regarded as thugs and common criminals, then all who played a part in the conflict must be tarred with the same brush, including , the many unionist politicians who marched with there berets, and used threats as a means to an end.
sean.d in belfast wrote (1,004 days ago):
propaganda,gorilla war,history ,has it ever been told by the defeated ? after the 30 year rule,,,,let the truth be told ?,,,,TRUTH WILL BE TOLD ?,,,WHY ?...can it ever be told ? lets try a 10 year rule..of truthy things..the truth is ,,,theres no such thing as the TRUTH..its a dream a wish and a want ,,its a kinda thing like ,,,,,IS THERE A GOD...kinda thing...if we had the chance to open the box of truth and see inside !!..it has always been erased and edited ..WHY ?............simple...TO KEEP THE PEACE............................................sorry SD
normal in belfast wrote (1,005 days ago):
to 'x officer', your heads in the clouds! of course they weren't ordered to starve themselves to death, thats rediculous!! they volunteered to go on hunger strike and the decision was made by the prisoners alone, the republican leadership on the outside were against the strikes initially, they only started to support the strikes reluctently when it was clear they were losing authority over the prisoners.
lorna in limavady wrote (1,005 days ago):
Jimmy mac The truth is hard to bare but these men did great service to both Sinn Fein and the IRA. What I find most upsetting is how they were able to do that. If it had not been for Paisley power it would never have happened that the talks would remain a secret until now and those lives would have been saved and a lot more others. We have heard since the power the IRA command had over the prisioners. Why did the loyalists not strike they surely wanted to be political prisioners also instead being classed as criminals and have to wear prision uniforms.
ken in ards wrote (1,006 days ago):
rob , re your comment, i agree with everything you stated in it, i think that the vast majority of the people here feel the same?
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