Government Documents Show Just How Exact Brendan Duddy's Notes Were.

Tonight The Pensive Quill features guest writer, Thomas Dixie Elliot, commenting on the hunger strike debate. The following was published as a letter in the Irish News on 6 January 2012.

I am a former Blanket man and during the period before and after July 1981 I was on the wing with Richard O’Rawe and Bik McFarlane. The Hunger Strikes are still a memory that haunts me to this very day. I saw brave men walk from our wing never to see them again.

I knew one thing from being on that wing and that was that Bik relied heavily upon Richard for advice concerning the Hunger Strike. I’ve followed the claims regarding the offer on July 5th for a long time and never once saw Richard waver in his claim that the Brits delivered an offer on July 5th 1981, which he and Bik agreed contained enough to end the Hunger Strike but that upon sending word outside the offer was rejected by the Adams committee who were dealing with it.

He didn’t waver despite the fact that those pouring ridicule on him were changing direction at every turn.

The recent release of the Brendan Duddy notes on the Hunger Strikes had in his own handwriting the very offer Richard said contained enough to end it. Then on top of that, documents were released under the 30 year rule. Documents that showed how exact Brendan Duddy’s notes were.

Documents that showed that indeed an offer was sent in and rejected by outside. Then Gerry Adams and Danny Morrison in what appeared to be an attempt to plug yet another much bigger hole in the dike set out on a smoke and mirrors exercise. Shout long and loud that the documents prove there was no offer and that an offer hadn’t even been formulated. Most people, they likely believed, wouldn’t even check to see if this was true or not. They claimed this despite the fact that Danny himself said otherwise several times that he had explained an offer to the Hunger Strikers and they needed it guaranteed. Not that it was unacceptable but that it needed guaranteeing.

I recently came across a discussion at Belfast Feile in 2009 on You tube during which Brendan Duddy was interviewed by Brian Rowan. 4mins into the 2nd part Brian Rowan had said to Duddy. 'I think your sort of test which is to get someone into the prison on the Sunday?'[sic]

Duddy took a drink of water and pointed to Danny Morrison in the audience and replied…'Him!’

Duddy went on to say 'that the person he wanted to get in with respect to you, Mr Morrison was Gerry Adams and they said.. No way is Adams going in. Right! So do not be offended, you were second choice.'

He then continued. 'So I considered a positive way forward to get Danny Morrison in and I was also totally happy that you were well aware of what was being said and what was on offer, so forth. So getting Danny Morrison in was, in my book, a major, major, step forward.'

He went on to say 'at that particular point of time the real difficulty was that this [meaning a document] particular written piece of paper…' [he didn't finish but questioned when the document was deposited].

Duddy further said 'that although a document didn’t exist the RM had the detail of an offer, there’s no argument about that. And at that particular point that offer was available to go into the prison and….and whatever. And what was not available at that time was the document.”

When Rowan asked him did he ‘scribble’ the offer, Duddy replied that he wrote it very carefully.

Danny Morrison from my viewing of the video didn’t dispute what Brendan Duddy was saying nor did he later do so publicly. In fact in an Irish News article on that discussion after the event, Jim Gibney although barely mentioning what Duddy said regarding the Hunger Strike referred to the man himself in glowing terms, praising his 'discretion, dependability and trustworthiness.'


  1. Dixie,

    as always, informative. The Committee must hate you by now

  2. Dixie I remember your letter a cara,for me and I,m sure the majority of thinking people who have followed this sorry saga,are well and truly convinced that the version of how those brave lads were sacrificed for political gain,through the truthful testimonies of people such as yourself and Richard O Rawe,is now well beyond any doubt.

  3. Marty,

    the people who don't believe it tend to be those who don't believe decommissioning happened

  4. And fairies at the bottom of the garden Anthony,

  5. Thanks Mackers. As a Republican I couldn't care less what The Committee think of me.

    They thought of Volunteers as nothing more than pawns in their dirty game of achieving power.

    Yet what power have they achieved?

    They have become nothing more than West Brits - to quote Daniel O'Connell - "they are ready to become a kind of West Briton if made so in benefits and justice..."

  6. dixie,

    I suppose that is the saddest thing about. Volunteers and others were mere stepping stones on the way to power. The Committee would as esily have done away with a volunteer as a British soldier. All were expedient

  7. The story of the Huger Strike was straight forward and uncomplicated that was until Richard O'Rawe published the first of his two books on the events. It would be fair to say that Republicans were blown away by the revelations that a British government offer existed offering the substance of our demands. Had this been accepted then six of our comrades would not had died. What a claim! So what happened?

    According to O'Rawe both he and Bik, the O.C, agreed there was enough in the offer to settle the affair. This famous exchange, at first denied by Bik and then accepted albeit in revised form, was overheard by two prisoners at least. If this was true it would be nonsense to sugget that Bik didn't inform the outside leadership of the prsoner's view: "ta go leor ann." O'Rawe claims that the cabal tasked with managing the strike overruled the prisoners and vetoed the offer thus prevent it ever becoming an actual deal. Herein lies the crux of the controversey.

    This version totally exposes the central the myth of the period ie, that the prisoners were the masters of their own fate. That when the chips were down the prisoners decided what was or was not acceptable. In this context the leadership were acting as representatives and, ultimatley, overseers of a settlement.

    Dixe refers to the public records in the form of Brendan Duddy's notes, otherwise known as the 'Mountain Climber', and British gevernment records of the time. What is abundantly clear from the information is the reference of a British offer. The sight of a possible settlement is there for all to awknowledge.

    Will there ever be a definitive outcome to the debate? I personally don't believe so. However, the weight of historical evidence could well fall on the side of Richard O'Rawe.

  8. Alec,

    It was a shock to the system when Richard O’Rawe vented his claims. But what gave his account lift in the opening crucial days after publication was Morrison. I was in the Green Room of the BBC the Sunday after publication and they were talking about the book. No one actually said they believed O’Rawe’s account, but simply that they didn’t believe Morrison’s. Richard’s charge was offering a new paradigm on the hunger strike which was obviously hard to absorb. But as time went on and he remained consistent with all the new material going his way, while Morrison et al had to gobbledegook it, O’Rawe’s narrative began to take hold.

    I suspect had Morrison come out on day one and instead of trying to do O’Rawe over in typically Shinner fashion, and merely said a mistake was made in the cauldron of the time, we would be hearing no more of it today and the SF narrative would have held intact after a few wobbles. Richard had no intention of fighting this battle six years on; he merely wanted to put his position in the public domain. But the more he was savaged the more he explained his position, to the point of producing a devastating second book which effectively wrote the Morrison narrative off.

    But even today – and you will find this yourself from just talking – those who are not following the detail opt for O’Rawe because they claim it is impossible to believe Morrison.

    Something rotten was being hidden behind the Morrison narrative and we know that ultimately we are going to get to get to it even though you think there might be no definitive outcome to the debate. In that sense there are people who still believe decommissioning didn’t happen. That hardly invalidates as definitive the belief that decommissioning did take place. I think it will be the same with the hunger strike and the verdict will be ‘death by committee.’

  9. Mackers you are correct in that if Adams and company had admitted from the start that they had overplayed their hand in pursuit of more and Joe died it would have been accepted.

    However the later documents of the Brits and the latest notes of Duddys show that talks about resolving the Hunger Strikes were still ongoing up to at least the 20th July.

    This alone asks the question why did Adams tell the hunger strikers and their families on the 29th July that there was no movement whatsoever from the Brits?

    There will come a time when the full truth comes out, we will likely be dead by then but I know some day it will.

    And history will not be kind to the Adams clique. Especially Republican history.

  10. Macker's

    I believe the Sinn Fein account suffers greatly due to the shifting positions and agruments. There was a time when Danny's habit of playing with words would have got him out of a tight corner but, alas, those days are long gone. We are wiser today and more atuned to his spin doctoring. I think he is the least credible person in the debate.

    The strenght of ROR's position, on the other hand, is the consistency of his narrative in the face of the Sinn Fein onsluaght. He has refused to be distracted by the personal attacks and tag team tactics of the opposing side. Despite their best efforts he has stuck to the task at hand.

  11. Alec,

    I have been told that many in the the Shinners cringe when they hear the case Morrison makes. They know he has walked them into it. Long gone are the days when he could persuade anybody. If he came in to back us on BC I would say 'we will lose the case for definite now.' So him batting for the Brits on this can be helpful.

    Richard has been solid and consistent. And it has worked for him.

  12. Dixie,

    It might well have transpired that the committee that killed the hunger strikers would have been called to book at some point as a result of the release of further documentation. As it stands now, I am of a view that the committee could have got away with murder had it not been for the way it responded to Richard. Like in a game of chess, Richard moved his pawns out and declared his opening move. He had taken no men until Morrison came along and gave him knight, rook, bishop and Queen. Now Richard has said ‘mate’ and the committee is talking about the weather and how the board looks awfully nice in the summer. The best that is being said in his defence is ‘But Danny is playing Ludo. Richard is cheating lifting all his pieces.’ In short it has become a farce for the committee. I have talked to a lot of people since this thing started; journalists, academics, British and Irish officials – they all say the same about Richard: Vindicated with a capital V.

    At the end of the day that committee steered the boys into the killing zone from which there was no escape. They were our comrades and the committee done them in. The least we can do is bring as much out as possible about that.

    ‘history will not be kind to the Adams clique.’

    How true.