Richard O'Rawesheds light on the vetting of H-Block comms.

As as general rule I don't comment on social media or get involved in the discussion that takes place online. But for the purposes of clarity I think I should on this occasion.

In 1985, I, along with two other volunteers, vetted all the comms from the H-Blocks before they were given over to David Beresford, who was researching his book, Ten Men Dead at the time.

Our task was to make remove all comms which mentioned The Mountain Climber, the intermediary between the British government and the IRA kitchen-cabinet. As we now know, one comm slipped through the net.

The recently uncovered 25 February 1981 comm from Bobby, in regards to his burial arrangements, did not come to our attention while vetting the comms.

In relation to the 9 March 1981 comm that Danny Morrison has produced for the media, at no time did I, or my fellow-volunteers, redact any comms. Redaction was not the purpose of the process in which we were engaged. So, if there is a redaction in the Morrison comm, someone other than we deemed it necessary to censor the comm and, in doing so, conceal the facts behind the redacted section from Beresford's future readership. 

It is not for me to speculate who might have been behind the redaction. But if everything is above board, if Bobby genuinely did change his mind in regards to his funeral arrangements, why hide it? And why was all this hidden from the Sands family for the guts of forty years? Maybe someone thought them unworthy of knowing how their son and brother wanted to be buried.

Richard O'Rawe was the H-Blocks PRO during the 1981 Hunger Strike. His books, Blanketmen and Afterlives are inside accounts of the blanket protest and subsequent hunger strikes. 

Vetting Comms From The H-Blocks

Richard O'Rawesheds light on the vetting of H-Block comms.

As as general rule I don't comment on social media or get involved in the discussion that takes place online. But for the purposes of clarity I think I should on this occasion.

In 1985, I, along with two other volunteers, vetted all the comms from the H-Blocks before they were given over to David Beresford, who was researching his book, Ten Men Dead at the time.

Our task was to make remove all comms which mentioned The Mountain Climber, the intermediary between the British government and the IRA kitchen-cabinet. As we now know, one comm slipped through the net.

The recently uncovered 25 February 1981 comm from Bobby, in regards to his burial arrangements, did not come to our attention while vetting the comms.

In relation to the 9 March 1981 comm that Danny Morrison has produced for the media, at no time did I, or my fellow-volunteers, redact any comms. Redaction was not the purpose of the process in which we were engaged. So, if there is a redaction in the Morrison comm, someone other than we deemed it necessary to censor the comm and, in doing so, conceal the facts behind the redacted section from Beresford's future readership. 

It is not for me to speculate who might have been behind the redaction. But if everything is above board, if Bobby genuinely did change his mind in regards to his funeral arrangements, why hide it? And why was all this hidden from the Sands family for the guts of forty years? Maybe someone thought them unworthy of knowing how their son and brother wanted to be buried.

Richard O'Rawe was the H-Blocks PRO during the 1981 Hunger Strike. His books, Blanketmen and Afterlives are inside accounts of the blanket protest and subsequent hunger strikes. 

4 comments:

  1. ROR
    I don't think it was because Bobby's family were thought unworthy of knowing. Consistent with your published work informing the family of what they had a right to know would have been just as inconvenient as telling the men that there was an offer on the table. Gerry Adams had a plan that saw himself become leader of the republican movement... like all ambitious political leaders he wasn't inhibited from using people to achieve his objective. As an agent of influence his Brit handlers would have been expert political strategists and not your run of the mill MI5 operator.

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  2. If comms were written on toilet and other scraps of paper, is it even possible to redact something that small?
    Once redacted which I would assume would involve blocking words with a marker or tape that would then destroy that piece of the document and make it unreadable?
    We do know the comms were vetted. It seems anything that was deemed “secret” on a comm, then the whole comm was not provided to various authors writing books on either Bobby or the hunger strikes. Were there any cases of a redacted comm being photographed or replicated in a publication?
    If Beresford were shown the comm in which Bobby asked for the poetry and mentioned the change of mind on his burial wishes, why would he remove that himself from his book?
    There is no mention of that sentence or paragraph on any of the other books published containing that comm.
    One would think that an investigative journalist would scrutinize these documents and follow up on anything that stood out.
    I find it hard to fathom with all the books and articles ever written where this comm was reproduced or referenced that every author felt there was no need to include this one thing?
    It does not add up.


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    Replies
    1. Tommy - I think the way the redactions were done was that they typed up the comms and then stored the originals elsewhere. The redactions would have taken place via manipulation of the typed copy.

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  3. Bobby made the ultimate sacrifice for us. The very least we and the P.I.R.A. command outside of the H Blocks should have done was honour his dying wishes.
    Our struggle has been plagued with ego's and ulterior motives, to have allowed this to happen to one of our leaders at such a seminal hour shows how dangerous ego's and ulterior motives are to any revolutionary movement.

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