The Thing About The Truth Is That You Can't Get Caught Out Telling It

Thomas Dixie Elliot responds to a piece from Jude Collins on the 1981 hunger strike. The response was carried on the Jude Collins blog. Dixie Elliot is a former blanketman.

  • This is a reply I made to Jude Collins in his blog in regards to the recently released documents on the Hunger Strike which once again Morrison and company use a certain Sir John Blelloch to back them up in their denials. Collins refers to 'opponents of republicanism'......

“Opponents of republicanism.” – Republicanism as in those who toast the British Queen and chase her offspring for handshakes every time they show up in Ireland?

I was on that wing with Bobby Sands as was Richard O’Rawe and I’d firstly like to know what you were doing at that time Jude which might give you the right to refer to anyone, especially those of us who were there, as “opponents of republicanism”?

Let us now deal with Blelloch. The Irish News carried an article today on the documents released this week in regards to a memo from Stephen Leach of the NIO to Blelloch. In the memo it is confirmed that ‘Adams told the ICJP in confidence about the ‘Mountain Climber’ and indicated that a ‘good offer’ had recently been received via this channel.’

If this was the case why did the likes of Bik tell Fergal McKinney, then a reporter, that there was no offer whatsoever? Why did Danny Morrison repeatedly deny the existence of an offer? Surely Gerry would have told them there was indeed a ‘good offer’ instead of letting them get caught out lying?

Danny and company lied - they even used the Blelloch document, released a few years back, to back up their lies.

However in the recent document we can see that Blelloch knew very little about the ‘Mountain Climber’ back channel. In a note he stated that … "I did not myself believe that there were in effect two government positions, one being deployed by the NIO and one by somebody else.”

Surely anyone having read Ten Men Dead would see that there was indeed two different positions, the negotiations between the NIO and the ICJP and on the other hand the negotiations between the Foreign Office/Thatcher and Adams through the back channel, the ‘Mountain Climber’.

Not only does Leach confirm that Adams told the ICJP about a ‘good offer’ but David Beresford includes this fact in Ten Men Dead. Therefore, despite what Blelloch believed, there was indeed two government positions and this hardly puts him in a position in which anyone, like Danny Morrison, can rely upon to back him up.

Now if Adams believed that the offer he received via the ‘Mountain Climber’ was a ‘good offer’ it stands to reason he would have passed it on to the OC on the inside which was of course Bik, who originally told Fergal McKinney that there was no offer whatsoever.

Despite Bik’s initial denials he in fact later stated in the Belfast Telegraph… “And I said to Richard (O’Rawe) this is amazing, this is a huge opportunity and I feel there’s a potential here (in the Mountain Climber process) to end this.”

So despite the claims to the contrary there was an offer on July 5th, days before the death of Joe McDonnell, and of course Bik discussed it with Richard O’Rawe and would have sent word outside. Richard said they accepted that offer and other prisoners in cells near them backed this up.

So who rejected it. And why?

Ten Men Dead was written largely relying on comms between Bik and Adams yet on the date of that offer and days after there is no comm between the two discussing this offer. In fact the only comm on or around that date refers to a meeting with the ICJP.

Why is the July 5th offer comm missing from Ten Men Dead as it was surely of great importance?

Finally the Irish News article states that an MI6 agent, Michael Oakley, was the ‘Mountain Climber’, whether or not this was Blelloch’s belief is not made clear. However all concerned, including Martin McGuinness, agree that the ‘Mountain Climber’ was indeed Brendan Duddy a Derry business man. Duddy backed Richard O’Rawe up in Derry’s Gasyard Center and stated in Belfast having pointed out Danny Morrison in the audience that he, Morrison; was tasked with taking the offer into the prison.


  1. I also posted this: It is important as it destroys the so called 'evidence' of the Blelloch/O'Malley interview which has yet again been posted on the Bobby Sands' Trust webpage....

    The recently released documents in fact prove that ‘Sir John Blelloch’s’ previously released interview with Padraig O’Malley, five years after the Hunger Strikes, isn’t worth the paper it was written on…

    These recent documents are a memo written to Blelloch from NIO official Stephen Leach telling him that Padraig O’Malley wanted to question him, Blelloch, about the ‘existence of an intermediary.’

    Leach told Blelloch in this memo, about Gerry Adams telling the ICJP that a ‘good offer’ had recently been received via this channel’. Blelloch in a note replied… ”I did not myself believe that there were in effect two government positions, one being deployed by the NIO and one by somebody else.”

    But here was Leach confirming that another channel (The Mountain Climber) existed and had passed a ‘good offer’ to Adams. Therefore previous to his O’Malley interview Blelloch was either still unaware of it, five years later, or he was in denial of it thus making this interview invalid as a means of backing up any form of argument.

    Note: The NIO were in contact with the ICJP during the Hunger Strikes so it stands to reason that this body informed their NIO contacts of what Adams had told them at the time. This is in actual fact mentioned in ‘Ten Men Dead.’

  2. Bloody hell, how is Adams still breathing? He had the offer but still let those young men die?

  3. Steve R

    He is still breathing because he was and is working to a UK agenda long term. I saw McGuinness on TV talking about coming clean personally in order to facilitate a truth commission. I remember a time he also told mourners to stare out the RUC riot squad around an IRA Volunteer's grave telling them it would show the RUC what defeat looked like. Knowing now what the dogs in the street can smell off every last one of the SF miss-leadership I would say Marty Mi6 knows he is safe as houses, as ever, and that any collateral damage resulting from a truth commission will not be affecting him or Gerry. A British agent and a British agenda dressed up in an ever fading shade of green. Very devious and dangerous British operators our Gerry and Marty. I wonder what the plan is, let's face it we now know who writes their scripts.

  4. Steve R, interesting you say that, I understand the other sides hostility to him is probably a legacy issue, but since reading this site, are you closer to seeing he has been the Unionist ace card?

  5. Excellent piece as always Dixie. Whatever argument Jude Collins makes about anything, he at least allows people to come back with a detailed response.

  6. DaithiD,

    The PUL community will always look at Adams and MMG as Himmler and Goering. The photo of Adams carrying the coffin of Sean Begley will never leave their collective mind. MMG was/is regarded as Cobra in a childcare centre too. Times may change but memories don't. Obviously the Republican side has their fair share of horrible memories also.

    But as for Adams being an 'Ace' card, not for Unionists exactly. Something Anthony said a while back made sense to me, that Adams and MMG were 'Assets' of British Intelligence. This is not to say that they are or were touts, but more that MI5 knew what way they were thinking and made the environment around them conducive to the result they wanted.

    Don't get me wrong, the Provisionals scared us in the PUL community greatly, and 'we' saw the encirclement of Belfast and the taking of Derry by stealth and because of our understanding that Adams/MMG WERE the Provisonals...never in a million years would we have thought Adams was our 'Ace' in the hole.

    Regardless, letting those young men die when you had an offer to resolve the situation that was agreeable takes a certain type of scum. Very surprised there was nobody among his own who took exception.

  7. Steve, I subscribe to the asset analysis now too. As to letting people die, Ive read alot on it and Im not any clearer. The first hunger strike failed because of ambiguity in the settlement meant the scews could "interpret" the document as they wished. Id be surprised if the leadership felt they could of called off the strike based on some points sketched out by Duddy, and given to Morrison second hand, and all conditional on the strike being called off first. It would of meant taking the Brits + screws at their word,when the stakes had just been raised by 4 dead hunger strikers when past behaviour would lead one to doubt their sincerity. Like i say, people speak with such certainty on this it makes me doubt whether ive understood it correctly. Ive you dont have the O'Rawe book, there is the 55 hours section on this site that deals with this topic too.

  8. DaithiD The Brits did not renege on an offer during the first hunger strike, that hunger strike ended with the only document in the hands of Gerry Adams when it ended. Fr Meagher had delivered it to him and he received it after the Hunger strike was over. The only thing it contained amid all the waffle was a line that ruled everything out...

    'Prisoners could wear civilian type clothing during the working week.'

    That only meant a new form of prison clothing and not only that they tried leaving the clothes in wings and it was promptly fucked back out again. So they reneged on nothing.

    The night the first hunger strike ended Bobby returned from visiting the Dark. We waited hoping for good news but what Bobby told us as he walked to his cell shattered us. 'Ni fhuaireamar feic, he said. We got nothing!

    Why say that if he thought there was an offer or the possibility of one?

    Don't take my word for that it is documented. Reference, as far as I remember, is made to the above in Denis O'Hearn's biography of Bobby. It might well be Ten Men Dead.

    Bobby got the Fr Meagher document the next day and saw there was nothing in it.

    The reneging on an offer lie was thrown up by Morrison and company as a smokescreen to cover the fact that the Brits wanted the Hunger Strike ended first then they'd publicly release the offer. They demanded to know how you could trust the Brits to stand over their offer when they reneged on one....etc.

    Besides the fact there was never an offer to renege on after the first hunger strike, the ICJP told the Hunger Strikers they'd act as guarantors over any settlement, so why not end the hunger strike saving the lives of those on it including maybe Joe McDonnell and see if the Brits stuck to their word? If they didn't stick to their word the ICJP could lay witness to their underhandedness and another hunger strike could begin with the blame solely lying at the Brits door.

    The fact is men were queuing up to join the Hunger Strike so a new one immediately following any British deceit would surely see massive pressure bare down on them.

    This is how it should have happened but did not. This is why we continually see the lie thrown up about the Brits reneging on an offer during the first hunger strike.

  9. As hard as it is for me to admit it, I've a new found respect for you lot in the Republican community.

    I may not share their political viewpoint but those young men perished for what they believed in and the appalling reality is their deaths were unnecessary. They were used as fodder to further the ambitions of political careerists.

    How do they sleep at night?

    Shame on them.

  10. Thanks Dixie, acutally I didnt say the British reneged. Brendan Hughes had promised Sean McKenna he wouldnt let him die, and had not seen any document before calling off the hungerstrike, so there was nothing to renege on. But wasnt Brendan aware there was some 'Portloaise type settlement' on its way? And didnt Bobby enter into negotiations with the prison regime based on the final document to try and get its interpretation closer to the five demands? In other words, this was the point of failure of the first hungerstrike, the point from which nothing could be salvaged?

  11. DaithiD At least we are agreed that the Brits didn't renege on an offer during the first hunger strike. Therefore why would Morrison and company keep throwing this up as an excuse for not believing the Brits were genuine with their offer on July 6th during the second Hunger Strike? Quite simply because they were and still are tangled up in their own lies.

    I'll deal with this final document again by using a quote from Jim Gibney...

    "It was 19 December 1980, a week from Christmas. The previous day the first hunger strike ended. The precise circumstances had not reached supporters. There was confusion. We hoped a just resolution could be found to end the protest. I encouraged people around me to enjoy Christmas. No prisoner had died so Christmas was back on.

    But inside me I knew another reality. Earlier Gerry Adams showed me a comm from Bobby Sands that had arrived from the prison the previous night. Few had read it. I was shocked by the comm, especially the sentence which starkly said a second hunger strike would start on 1 January and Bobby would lead it.

    Arrangements had been made for me to visit Bobby the next day and tell him that the leadership did not want a second hunger strike and that another way had to be found to honourably end the protest."

    Gibney confirms that Bobby was writing out the following day saying 'a second hunger strike would start on 1 January and he would lead it.' This adds to the fact there was nothing offered otherwise why write out saying the above?

    Gibney then refers to the Fr Meagher document... 'the British government had produced a document which on paper had the potential to end the prison protests in the H-Blocks and Armagh Women's prison.'

    Firstly the above document only contained, as I already stated, the offer of ‘civilian-type clothes’another form of prison clothing.

    I'll quote Danny Morrison who tripped himself up by having written the piece in the BST which I quote from...

    "There was, however, a slight shift in her position – the offer of ‘civilian-type clothes’ and the motive, according to Secretary of State Humphrey Atkins, was “to deprive the protestors of a great deal of public sympathy.”

    Then on the ending of the first hunger strike he damns his own lies...

    "Although it is now well-known that Brendan Hughes ended the hunger strike unilaterally, without consulting his O/C Bobby Sands, we on the outside finessed the sequence of events for the sake of morale and at a midnight press conference merged the secret arrival of a British government document (promising a more enlightened prison regime: falsely, as it turned out) with the ending of the hunger strike.

    It was either that or admit – which to the republican base was inconceivable – that Brendan had ended the strike without getting a thing."

    How was the offer of civilian-type clothes, (another form of uniform), 'promising a more enlightened prison regime'? This was Danny's spin on it.

    Bobby did try negotiating with the prison governor but it was a forlorn exercise and he knew it.

  12. Dixie, a folorn exercise they would of revisited if they accepted the outline of an offer via Duddy, that had no mechanism for implementing it? Because of the stance of the screws and some malcontents in the NIO, this had to be as important as the demands themselves didn't it? Even if we accept no reneging would take place, the screws would zero in on any ambiguities.

  13. Sounds like they were not prepared to see it through first time around. I remember it being called off and I remember there wasn't the same sense of tension during the second hunger strike as had developed during the first one. When the first one ended all of us in the H-Block Committees were in shock and total confusion.