Statement by Family of Patsy O’Hara – 1981 Hunger Striker
by Tony O’Hara
We, the family of Patsy O Hara wish to put on public again the reasons for us refusing to accept Sinn Fein’s versions (so far) of what occurred in July 1981.
Our motive is simply to reach the truth on what really happened, and find out could the lives of 6 Friends and Comrades been saved?
Martin Mc Guinness opinion piece in the Irish News 28th Sept is just a continuation of their policy to try and bury the truth in a muddle of name calling and by prolonging the fabrication that the British reneged during the first Hunger strike in 1980. He stated
''Clearly, they have chosen to forget of what mettle the hunger strikers were made, of their experiences of British deceit in December 1980''.
This is following a litany of statements
Bik Mc Farlane on UTV live on 1st March 2005 denied that any offer of any sort was ever made by the British at any point.
March 2005 in an interview with the Irish News Bik stated ‘’There was no concrete proposals whatsoever in relation to a deal. He goes on to deny that the acceptance conversation with Richard O’Rawe ever took place.
Danny Morrison in the Irish Times on 5th February 2005 said ‘’It is telling that not once in 24 years has the NIO stated that before Joe McDonnell’s death it made an offer to the hunger strikers which was turned down by the IRA army council. Even though Danny contradicted Bik by saying that there were offers being proposed by the British but he stated that none of them were concrete. Bik later retracted his earlier claim in other press briefing that there were no offers and said he meant to say no deals.
Jim Gibney said in the Irish News on 12th May 2006 that? Joe McDonnell died on 8th July –the British did not offer an agreement before he died.
SF’s position then shifted from ‘no offers whatsoever’ to ‘no concrete proposals whatsoever’ according to Barbara de Bruin on 2nd May 2009:
There were negotiations, there was an offer, in fact a number of different offers but as the British refused to sign anything or give a public commitment to move before the hunger strike ended there was no ‘deal’. Due to the way the British government had acted in the wake of the first hunger strike the hunger strikers wouldn’t end their fast without some form of public guarantee.
Indeed, the timeline published by the Bobby Sands Trust also shows that the British government refused to meet the hunger strikers and stand over their offer.
It is worth rewinding back to Jim Gibney’s public statement on March 2004 when during a speech on the anniversary of Bobby Sands 50th birthday he said, I was shown a comm written by Bobby Sands that had come out of the prison the previous day(the day the first Hunger Strike ended). The following sentence stuck out: “I will begin another hunger strike on the 1st January.” SF’s position now seems to be relying on British duplicity at the end of the first Hunger Strike by claiming that the British reneged on a deal therefore it was imperative that the Brits stand over any offer they made.
Why would Bobby Sands be writing a comm on the night the first Hunger Strike collapsed about going on another Hunger Strike if there was an alleged deal? Danny Morrison appeared on RTE, the same day Jim received this comm, saying that Bobby was jubilant. All the main players including of course the Brits knew that no deal was reneged on so why maintain this pretence and preconditions over an alleged deal that didn’t exist.
On May 23rd last the RNU (whom Gerry Adams referred to as ''IRPs and Yahoos'' despite some of the organiser being well respected ex- members of the IRA's Derry brigade) Organised a meeting in Derry's Gasyard.
The five crucial points to emerge from Derry were : documented evidence of a British offer; witness evidence that the document in question was the one handed to his interlocutor in the republican leadership;
witness evidence that the offer was refused by the same interlocutor; witness evidence that the stumbling block was not the absence of a British guarantor but not enough on the table; witness evidence that Richard O’Rawe’s account of the conversation between himself and Brendan McFarlane in which they agreed to accept the British offer was correct. The aggregated weight of evidence from Brendan Duddy, Gerard Clarke and Liam Clarke provide a linear account wholly consistent with O’Rawe and seriously at variance with those who would rather Blanketmen had never seen the light of day
1. Brits offer via Mountain Climbers proved to exist - despite SF saying there was no offer - didn't know about Mountain Climber - no concrete offer - no concrete proposal to ''we briefed all the Hunger Strikers on the MC offer, They refused it''. (The Men were never briefed)
2. According to Bik - No conversation with Richard O Rawe ever took place over the MC offer. despite other Prisoners hearing it.
He stated in Gulladuff that he briefed the men about the MC deal - in an UTV interview Bik stated that ''no offer of any sort was ever made by the Brits''. and a few weeks later in the Irish news ''there were no concrete proposals whatsoever in relation to a deal''.
And in recent days Mountain Climber has been stating that contact with the British had been ongoing since the ending of the first Hunger Strike! Were offers made that could have saved the first 4 men also?
The 1981 Hunger Strike is now part of Irish history and belongs to the Irish people as a whole. Thatcher was ultimately responsible for the attempted Criminalisation and both Hunger Strikes. The truth is something that should be searched for without fear of diminishing that sacrifice of these patriot martyrs and without fear of where the truth may bring us and could no more be vetoed or blinkered than the descendants of Pearse and Connolly could tell Irish people what elements of 1916 may be looked at!
This will be studied and debated and a judgment issued by enemies -why not have those who care deeply about this be allowed to search for the truth. Our families have met with Richard O’ Rawe and believe what he has said, especially now as those who have vilified him keep changing statements. In Gulladuff , they stated that ''they had nothing to hide''. Its time now to have the courage to agree to a truth commission. Only this will bring the truth out and put an end to all of this.
This is a verbatim statement issued by the O’Hara Family and is printed here at their request to express their honest belief that this matter should be investigated by an independent truth commission.