Sorry Initiatives and Prime Time Apologies

Martin Galvin with a letter to the Irish News on the emergence of the Margaret Thatcher papers. It featured on the 14th May 2013 under the title 'Sinn Fein should walk away from hard won privileges.'

A chara,
From beyond the grave, Thatcher’s just released papers leave no doubt about the magnitude of the Hunger Strikers’ victory over her efforts to use them to criminalise the struggle against British rule. We always knew that the Hunger Strikers had won where it mattered most in hearts and minds. Now we have the Iron Lady’s own hand written notes giving up sweeping concessions in July of 1981 that she wanted hidden until her death.

No beatings, deprivation or naked brutality could make these brave Republican prisoners dress up in convict costumes, so that the British might brand them as another chapter in “800 years of crime.”

Sadly, the British never gave up on criminalisation, but merely shifted tactics to get it. If as Thatcher learned, they could not bully or break Republicans why not try to blandish and bribe them with important sounding titles and comfortably paid jobs so long as they were tightly reined-in by a British colonial secretary?

Fifteen years on the British must think they succeeded complete with ‘Sorry initiatives’ and ‘Prime Time apologies’. Today the British need not answer for their own misdeeds. They can mete out injustice, and then pass the buck to the justice minister or constabulary chief, who the British will happily add were picked with Sinn Fein’s blessing. Party members on constabulary boards are touted by the British as a cosmetic stamp of approval on British policies. No one believes Republicans entered Stormont or constabulary boards to become cheerleaders for the crown. No one should be surprised that the crown would scheme to use and housetrain those they took inside. 

At its recent Ard Fheis, the party challenged Labour to walk away from its hard-won privileges and perks in government. It is wrong, Sinn Fein said for the party of Connolly and Larkin to remain complicit junior partners propping up Fine Gael’s policies.

Are Republicans not entitled to stand by the principles of our patriots and ask Sinn Fein to do what Sinn Fein asked of Labour? Has the party been so hobbled by a few Stormont titles and jobs that it cannot free itself from being junior partners in British injustice?  If the British want to mistreat Republicans, let them do it without the reluctant complicity of other Republicans! 


  1. Martin Galvin-

    " Sadly the British never give up on criminalistion "-

    Nor did Galvin-after the Hunger Strike of 81 the IRSP went to him looking for their share of the money that was collected that year for the prisoners-Galvin ate the head of the IRSP rep and had him thrown out after calling him a communist [page 184-Deadly Divisions ] such was his contempt for 3 of the dead Hunger-Strikers-

  2. Michaelhenry,

    is that the same book that claimed the INLA were told nothing about the British offer during the hunger strike?

  3. The yankee govt brutalises the brave hunger strikers in Guantanomo. Galvin and his lackies NEVER criticise American brutality every bit as evil as belsen and Auschwitz. At least the hunger strikers in the Maze never had to endure tubes shoved up/down their noses and anal ends. Is that hypocrisy or bullshit that I hear/smell ? Boston bombs, oh dear.

  4. AM-

    It is the same book which says that there could not be any deals as a result of negotiations unless the INLAs represenative had taken part in them-[page 175] wonder who was the INLA represenative after the 10th Hunger-Strike died when the brits give the POWs their demands-that one was kept quiet-only the INLA represenative could negotiate for INLA POWs-they would not accept anything else-

  5. Michaelhenry,

    at least there was equality. INLA and IRA prisoners alike were equally kept in the dark about the offer from Thatcher.

  6. I see Alan has a thing for Martin as he mentioned here as well...

  7. Said to a ULA work colleague this morning, Sinn Féin of 2013 are the same radicals who were the SDLP in 1973, easy bought!

  8. I view with disgust Michael Henry's comment suggestion that Martin Galvin had ''contempt for 3 of the dead Hunger-Strikers''.
    Not only was he working day and night, to the verge of exhaustion, building support for them and the Irish Struggle. But he has been a personal friend of my family since 1981.
    Its a fact that he never supported the IRSP/INLA in any way.But its wrong to use this in a distortion that he ''criminalised'' Pasty, Kevin or Mickey.

    Tony O Hara

  9. I view with disgust the comments from Michael Henry that suggest Martin Galvin had ''contempt for 3 of the dead Hunger-Strikers ''.
    Not only did tremendous work for all of the Hunger Strikers and Irish Freedom organising in the USA.But that he remained a friend of mine and my family -IT IS OBVIOUSLY A DEEP INSULT FOR ANYONE TO SAY HE CRIMINALISED THE HUNGER STRIKERS.
    Its a fact he never supported the IRSP/INLA. But this should not be used to distort the facts. And such personal untruthful snides have no place on such a prestigious site.

  10. On the post '' there could not be any deals as a result of negotiations unless the INLAs represenative had taken part in them''. Let me expand on this. Firstly I was never interviewed for the Deadly Divisions book so the following will be new.
    I was 2nd in command of the Republician Socialist POWs on the Blanket Protest. John Nixon was the OC.As far back as late 1978 we came to a conclusion that its would take a Hunger Strike to win a return to Political Status.With me and him starting it.Miriam Daly and a lot of family members were organising as the Relatives Action Committee.The leadership of SF has no interest in this and just paid it lip service. They would not come on board until 1979 when they seen a huge crowd of 5000 outside Dublin's GPO.When Bobby came on the protest he started organising a writing campaign. Then the Dark came on and we escalated the protest in 1979 but wrecking the cells and after a few weeks beginning the no wash - no slop out phase of the protest. All in a bid to avoid a Hunger Strike as we knew it was the last resort.When the Hunger Strike was planned with 7 men - We wanted the INLA to have 2 places.The Dark negotiated us to having one. We, The INLA POW's, wanted the 5 demands
    but also an extra demand - our own wing. And for that we may have stayed on Hunger Strike if feasible.We also wanted a Rep in all negotiations.When my brother Patsy and Mickey Devine joined the 1st Hunger Strike on Dec 2nd along with the other Prisoners, I took over as OC. I didn't like the thought that my good friend and Comrade Nixy would have to stay on Hunger Strike for a bit longer to achieve our autonomy that our own wing would have brought us.And would not have put his life in Jeopardy if he neared death,over our own wing
    When Bobby was allowed to visit the Hunger Strikers and others, I was refused by the Regime. So really the only contact we had was from outside.When the Hunger Strike ended without anything being won. We were planning a second Hunger Strike on our own. When Bobby visited my brother Patsy and was told of this he told Patsy ''If you go on this alone, you will be forever on your own in this Prison''. So a joint 2nd Hunger Strike was being planned. Patsy wanted to follow Bobby a week later. but Francis kicked up such a fuss that we agreed to him going on 2nd. Patsy followed on the 3rd week. To our astonishment Raymond was put on the same day to minimise the impact of the 1st INLA joining the protest.Whoever in the IRA leadership decided that should hang their head in shame as it resulted in Patsy and Ray dying within hours of each other on the same day.To this day I have never got a answer as to why this needless sacrifice happened.I was asked to resume as OC of the INLA at this time but declined for fear of a fear that I didn't know how I would respond in negotiations (If any)if my younger brother neared death. I would have been the weak link in the chain.And the Brits would have exploited that to the fullest.And now looking back after all these years, losing a brother and 9 other Comrades, and still awaiting for the then leaders of SF to come out and admit that they let 6 men died, I still tell people that for those heartbreaking months between March and September 1981 we did something that united us all in a common struggle And it was sad to see that disolve when the Hunger Strike ended.

  11. Tony,

    many people expect this from Michaelhenry and they do not attribute much seriousness to his comments. I think most feel he is an embarrassment to the party line in the woeful way he articulates it. We do not take a stance of protecting people from criticism or offence, feeling it mutes discussion.

  12. Tony,

    a very thoughtful comment, a lot of which is new to me and I appreciate you posting it here.

    However, I do think it would make a great article and would be more widely read than it is likely to be in the comments section. Is it ok to reproduce as an article for the blog? It is fine as it is but you might choose to do a rewrite.

  13. Tony your personal recollections of that period make interesting reading a cara ,the truth thanks mainly to Richard O Rawe has been out there for for a few years now,your personal insight into that tragic waste of lives helps fill the bigger picture,Mickeybroys comments and those of his cronies in quisling $inn £ein are exactly what you should come to expect from a party whose president for life and a few cronies willingly manipulated the deaths of six brave men,he will go to his grave lying through his teeth,he really cant do anything else at this stage, the eejits who follow him have not the wit nor the balls to question or investigate that disgraceful act of treachery,proven by how willingly they have swallowed by all the other shit that has subsequently followed,

  14. Tony O Hara-

    I can still say that Martin Galvin held contept for 3 of the dead Hunger-Strikers because you have brought nothing new to the debate except to say that you support Galvin after he threw a IRSP member
    out of his home and called him a commie-maybe you also like to forget that it was your own sister who helped to raise those funds in America in the fist place-you might not like to hear the truth but you are not everyone-yet another one who wants to see the truth hid-

  15. Michaelhenry you couldn't lace neither Martin Galvin's, Tony O'Hara's or Ricky O'Rawe's boots...

    In fact I doubt you could even lace your own.

  16. Anthony , Please feel free to use my post for whatever you please. If you need me to expand on anything please let me know and I will do my best to help Mo Chara!

  17. MH-
    Why was a man of your calibre not on the Nolan Show last night representing the PSF? your point scoring tactics would of put the pious Jeffrey in his box! Or is Marty now the only one who is allowed to speak on behalf of your party to your electorate a long as he is along side Peter the *unt???

    If I was you I would be making a point of representing them since no-one else in your party seems to want to.. well apart Big Bad John (credit where credit is due!)...

  18. Just read about John O'Dowd being unhappy with a SF/IRA label on a BBC floor plan. Given that people at the top of the SF party have denied any links to being part of the IRA makes me wonder just what else was going on behind the scenes during the troubles?

    The Hunger Strikes seem to have been a microcosm of political chicanery that was going on at the time. What further untruths were told in the subsequent years to keep IRA volunteers on board with SF's political agenda?