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8 June 2006 Edition

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O'Rawe refuted: Danny Morrison publishes H-Block comms

Claims fatally undermined

"At present the British are looking for what amounts to absolute surrender. They are offering us nothing that amounts to an honourable solution."

Richard O'Rawe 1981

Unsupported claims made by a former republican prisoner Richard O'Rawe, and widely reported in the media in recent weeks and months, that the IRA leadership had allowed several republican Hunger Strikers to die in 1981 has been fatally undermined this week.

Former Sinn Féin Publicity Director Danny Morrison, who was a key liaison person with the Hunger Strikers during 1981, has produced secret communications written by O'Rawe during the period and which prove that the allegations are without foundation.

It is the first time that the communications, known as comms, held in archives in Dublin have been published.

Richard O'Rawe's 2006 utterances coincided with the launch of his own book on the period of the 1981 Hunger Strike. In the previous 25 years O'Rawe had remained silent on his allegations that Hunger Strikers were allowed to die by the republican leadership outside the jail in order to increase support for the Movement.

A statement by O'Rawe from 1981, contained in a comm he sent out of the H-Blocks, and made in the middle of the Hunger Strike and after the death of Joe McDonnell, one of the Hunger Strikers he alleges was allowed to die by the outside leadership, says: "At present the British are looking for what amounts to absolute surrender. They are offering us nothing that amounts to an honourable solution."

It is abundantly clear that, at the time, O'Rawe was deeply frustrated by the intransigence of the British in relation to the Hunger Strike. On the day that Joe McDonnell died he says: "The British Government's hypocrisy and their refusal to act in a responsible manner are completely to blame for the death of Joe McDonnell." This is a far cry from his present stated position. Danny Morrison pointed out this week that there are serious contradictions in O'Rawe's version of events. "Whilst in jail Richard never raised his claims with the leadership in prison or the leadership outside.

"After Richartd's release he worked in the Republican Press Centre for a year and never mentioned the allegations he now makes.

"He has never explained why he only came up with the allegations 25 years after the events.

"If these allegations are true does anyone seriously believe the British would not have used them to discredit the IRA before now?

"In his comms from July, August and September 1981 which were released as press statements, Richard makes it clear there was no deal.

"Richard's comms completely contradict the allegations he is making. There was no 'deal'. All surviving Hunger Strikers from that period support these facts", he added.

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