Duddy’s secret hunger strike diary goes online

Brendan Duddy. Picture Martin McKeown. Inpresspics.com. 26.5.09
Brendan Duddy. Picture Martin McKeown. Inpresspics.com. 26.5.09

Derry businessman Brendan Duddy’s handwritten account of the 1981 hunger strike negotiations is now available online.

Known as the ‘red book’, the document is held as part of the Brendan Duddy Archive at the James Hardiman Library at NUI Galway.

A transcript of the handwritten diary, originally created in 2001 by a relative of Brendan Duddy’s in consultation with him, has also been placed online.

Mr. Duddy passed secret messages between the British government and the IRA for 20 years.

Dr Niall O’Dochartaigh, Lecturer in Politics at NUI Galway, says the documents - when set alongside recently released official papers from the UK National Archives and the account originally outlined in the book ‘Ten Men Dead’ - add significantly to knowledge of the 1981 hunger strike negotiations.

Dr. O’Dochartaigh told the ‘Journal’: “This fractured and occasionally very personal handwritten record provides us with a sense of the intensity of these contacts and the biting tensions at this intersection between the British government and the Provisional Republican leadership.

“It provides an informal record of these contacts from the perspective of the intermediary that adds significantly to our understanding of the dynamics of these backchannel negotiations.

“It highlights, in particular, the importance of struggles over deadlines and the timing of moves by both parties.”

Deposited at NUI Galway in 2009, the papers of Brendan Duddy provide a unique insight into the resolution of the ‘Troubles’.

The archive includes coded diaries of contact as well as messages exchanged between the British Government and the Provisional Republican leadership.

The Duddy papers are directly related to the papers of Ruairí Ó Brádaigh, former President of Sinn Féin, which are also held in the James Hardiman Library at NUI Galway.

Together, these archives constitute one of the most important sources for understanding the attempts to resolve conflict in Ireland that culminated in the Good Friday Agreement of 1998.

John Cox, University Librarian at NUI Galway, says: “The James Hardiman Library is pleased to provide wider access to this important document by making it available online.”

Documents can be viewed at: archives.library.nuigalway.ie/duddy/