‘What the British knew’ in 1981


The recently released Thatcher Foundation Papers reveal that Humphrey Atkins in a minute to Thatcher on July 6th, two days before the death of Joe McDonnell [fifth Hunger Striker], indicated that: “The Provisionals need to settle the prisons problem on terms they can represent as acceptable to them if they are to go on – as we know some of them wish to do – to consider an end of the current terrorist campaign. A leadership which has ‘lost’ on the prisons is in no position to do this.”

Clearly the British were correct in July 1981 given that those running the Hunger Strike from the outside, Adams, McGuinness, Morrison, Hartley and Gibney were later to the fore in the Peace Process.

And clearly they knew then what the Hunger Strikers and volunteers of the IRA didn’t know, that an eventual ceasefire and movement towards politics was in the minds of those trusted to find a solution to the nightmare of the H-Blocks.

Would anyone have willingly died had they known what the British knew?


Thomas Dixie Elliott,

Cooke Tcce,