Published Friday, 30 December 2011
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.
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