Letter from the O’Hara and Devine Families

Open Letter to Gerry Adams, Danny Morrison Jim Gibney, Martin McGuinness, Tom Hartley, and Bik McFarlane.

We welcome the fact that Danny Morrision has broken his silence and has given some insight into the events of the first week of July 1981 concerning the hunger strike in Long Kesh. In that light we would like to ask a few questions in the hope of getting answers that may finally put to rest the events surrounding the tragic deaths of our loved ones.
Danny has stated that he relayed the contents of an offer to the PIRA prison OC, Bik McFarlane, on July 5 1981.

Richard O’Rawe, the prison PRO, has said that Bik sent him down a comm detailing what was on offer, and that he said to Bik “Ta go leor ann.” (There is enough there). This has been verified to some of our families by two ex-Blanketmen who had been there on the wing and heard the words. Also, Bik himself, in a press interview in 2009, finally admitted he had had a conversation with Richard, and that he thought the Brit offer was “amazing.” In light of this, we must assume that Bik made his and Richard’s views known to their outside leadership. What we would like to know is:

Q1 Why was this not accepted?

Q2 Who, on the outside overrode Bik’s authority?

Q3 Why was the Hunger Strike allowed to continue, on direction from the outside (not the POWs)?

Q4 Mrs McDonnell asked Gerry Adams to save her son’s life to end to the Hunger Strike by ordering the POWs off it. Mr Adams’ reply was that he did not have the authority to do this. Who had the authority (Brendan McLaughlin was ordered off it due to his medical condition)?

Q6 Why was the IRSP (who were joint participants in the Hunger Strike) not informed about the offer through Mountain Climber?

Q7 The British sent you their offer (to be released upon the ending of the Hunger Strike) in the form of dictated statements on the 6th and 20th of July. Why were these statements never shown to the POWs?

Q8 Who took the decision to withhold the statements from the hunger strikers and the prison leadership?

Q9 On the 29th of July, Gerry Adams told the mother and father of Kieran Doherty, and the hunger strikers, that ”there was no deal on the table, no movement of any sort” despite him being at the centre of on-going communications/negotiations with the Brits from July 4th to July 20th. Why did Adams deliberately mislead the hunger strikers? Did he think that they might call off their fast if they found out what was really happening? We should not forget that four of those men who listened and joked with Adams, went on to die horrible deaths in total ignorance of what the British were offering.

In Danny Morrison’s recent letter he spoke of the ‘families pain’. Danny can’t even hope to imagine the pain felt by some of our families. We, the undersigned, believe that the Hunger Strike was prolonged when an honourable settlement was available, a settlement that would have saved the lives of six brave men.

We called for an independent inquiry three years ago, asking all those involved in this matter to attend. Only Richard O’Rawe and the late Dr. Garrett FitzGerald said they would attend. We once again call for on Gerry Adams, Danny Morrison, Jim Gibney, Martin McGuinness, Tom Hartley, and BikMcFarlane to attend. The least we deserve, is a reason why they won’t attend, and failing that, they could provide answers to.

Is sinne,

Peggy and Tony O Hara. Michael and Louise Devine