Cuban citizen threatened to shoot diplomat in solidarity with IRA and INLA hunger strikers

"The Maze hunger strikers have received a lot of publicity in the Cuban Press but the tone, though biased, has generally been mild by the standards of the 'Irish People'."
"The Maze hunger strikers have received a lot of publicity in the Cuban Press but the tone, though biased, has generally been mild by the standards of the 'Irish People'."

A Cuban citizen threatened to shoot a British diplomat in solidarity with the IRA and INLA hunger strikers of 1981, according to a newly-declassified file released by the British Government.

The incident occurred on May 15, 1981, after Bobby Sands, Francis Hughes, Raymond McCreesh, Patsy O'Hara and Joe McDonnell had died on hunger strike in the Maze.

A newly-released telegram that was circulated to the Northern Ireland Office (NIO) in Belfast and the UK Embassy in Washington DC at the time explained how the would-be assassin gained entry to a diplomatic compound by pretending to be a journalist from the 'Juventud Rebelde' [Rebel Youth] newspaper.

"He said he wanted to talk about Northern Ireland. About halfway through my exposition of the Northern Ireland situation he pulled a gun on me and said that he had come to kill someone as a gesture of solidarity with the Maze hunger-strikers," the official stated.

After some further discussions, however, the intruder was said to have changed his mind and asked for political asylum instead.

"After three and a half hours my butler and the husband of our maid succeeded in overpowering the intruder and handing him over to the police. His gun turned out to be a realistic toy," the circular stated.

The official did not believe the man was working on behalf of the Fidel Castro led Cuban Government of the day.

The memorandum concluded: "I think that my visitor was an intelligent but unbalanced individual working on his own account.

"His Northern Ireland story was odd, but consistent with his general demeanour.

"The Maze hunger strikers have received a lot of publicity in the Cuban Press but the tone, though biased, has generally been mild by the standards of the 'Irish People.'

"If the Cuban authorities wanted to show their sympathy for the IRA they would do so by means of official statements and/or mass demonstrations against the embassy and not, I think, through an incident of this kind."

The official said that the Cubans were placing armed guards on British diplomats in Havana as "hitherto we have been one of the very few embassies without a guard".