Difficult to get caught out when you always tell the truth

Tonight the Pensive Quill features guest writer Thomas Dixie Elliot. The following piece was published as a letter in the Irish News on on 25 January, 2012.

The thing about the truth is: you can’t get caught out telling it. Maybe that’s the reason Richard O’Rawe hasn’t been caught out telling lies, or ever changed his story regarding the events surrounding the 1981 hunger strike.  Others, Danny Morrison in particular, haven’t been so consistent.

In the Irish News on January 17th Danny said “the British telephoned Duddy [Brendan Duddy, the go-between] an offer on the 6th.…”

I assume that when Danny says the committee received an ‘offer on the 6th’, he is referring to the Brit statement containing the measures that would be put in place upon the ending of the hunger strike. This is the same statement that Brendan Duddy authenticated at the Derry Gasyard debate in 2009. Perhaps, after all this time and controversy, Danny can tell us why this statement was never shown to the prison leadership, or to the hunger strikers? Can he at least tell us who took the decision to hide it from our prison leadership and from our comrades on the hunger strike? Or why that decision was taken? Had our leaders, and our comrades who stared death in the face, not a right to know what was in this Brit statement? 
Danny said in his Irish News article that it was the Brits who ‘slammed the door’ on a possible deal. In the Duddy papers, we see the ‘placatory’ Brit statement that was made on July 19th (this is referred to on page 324 Ten Men Dead). We then have the Brits outlining their position:

Thatcher must be able to defend her position. The prisoners and the prison officers have to try to make the new regime work. Either side could destroy it. The government most honourably wants this [the offer] to end the hunger strike.

Finally, from Brendan Duddy’s notes:

The position has gone dead. Neither side can nor will move. Everyone is tired. Time is running out. It is 1:33 am July 20th 1981. I am almost defeated. I can’t move forward. The British are asking for their plan to be accepted. “A” won’t move. Noel is saying he is finished for all time. I am so tired. I can’t save Kieran Doherty’s life. It is so tragic. It is regrettable that a solution does not seem to be possible. 2:25 am July [20th]…

Just nine days later on July 29th; Gerry Adams went into the prison and told the hunger strikers that “there was no deal on the table from the Brits, no movement of any sort.” Why did he tell them something he knew to be untrue?


  1. Dixie,

    well put. Richard has remained consistent throughout. Judged against the shifting and the shadiness of his adversaries, there is no real surprise that he came out well in front.

  2. How they can justify their present positions as representing The Republican Community is easy to understand by their past actions. Electoral voting paid prevalence over Volunteers lives.However you could say life means mopre today as they asked for us to pray for the Paisley family.What a lovely gesture concerning this great Irishman.
    Oh forgive me British.

  3. In this sad story, it's difficult for me to understand Bik's behaviour. The hunger strike did not made him a part of the republican elite, he seems more of a servant betrayed by his masters,but instead of revolting, he seems wanting to regain their trust. Maybe I am wrong, someone who knows him please help me to understand.

  4. André,

    this is one of the yet to be explained issues.

    In all my conversations about this I have tended to express the view that he is more victim than villain. I think he was a victim of the decision making process at the time which was outside the cotrol of the prisoners. He did not pull the trap door beneath the hunger strikers, the commmittee did. But his stance since the debate took off has not served him well.

    I wish it were not so as I have always liked the guy and have felt he always tried to do the right thing. Now he appears trapped by the logic of the official narrative.

  5. Anthony,Bik is an intelligent man and no fool, he had the opportunity to be truthful when Richard brought this out into the open, so if he was being loyal ,one has to ask just who was he being loyal to,I would have thought comrades came first,

  6. Marty,

    for whatever reason people feel limited and constrained in the choices they can make. I admit to not understanding his position. I have never found him as someone who would set out with bad intent in the manner that those on the committee would.

  7. Just finished Tommy McKearney,s PIRA From Insurrection To Parliament, Excellent well worth reading, nothing new to many familiar with the history of the movement,but a useful book none the less,loved auld timer Barney,s description of the carpetbagger blowin nicknamed "the graduate" as the "Gobshite",I think Tommy has documented the history of the PRM from birth to the present with an openess and honesty that sometimes hard to find when looking back at our recent past,

  8. Marty,

    you should post a comment on the review itself. I am sure Tommy would appreciate it