This video of an interview at the West Belfast Festival of hunger strike mediator Brendan Duddy by Belfast journalist Brian Rowan should lay to rest the controversy over whether or not Danny Morrison went into Long Kesh with an offer from the British government to end the 1981 hunger strikes.
Controversy has once again surfaced over this issue in the wake of Vincent Browne’s two-part documentary on Gerry Adams, the first part of which was broadcast by TV3 in Ireland on Wednesday evening.
Duddy tells Rowan on the video that his preference for visiting the IRA prisoners in Long Kesh and showing them the British offer was Gerry Adams but since the British would not allow the Sinn Fein leader into the jail, Danny Morrison went in his place.
Thebrokenelbow.com has not seen the TV3 programme but in an email sent earlier this week to myself, Vincent Browne described what the item would say:
His (Adams’) role in the hunger strike 1981 – I’m in disagreement with you and Richard O Rawe on this as the contemporaneous diary of Brendan Duddy,
which is in the archive of the University of Galway shows that Danny Morrison could not possibly have brought in the specifics of a bridge offer to end a hunger strike on Sunday, 5 July 1981, as the offer did
not arrive to Duddy, until 11.30pm on Monday 6 July.
However in the Rowan interview, Brendan Duddy is quite clear that Danny Morrison went into the jail with the British offer on July 5th, 1981. The offer at this stage was an informal one which Duddy had scribbled down on paper and passed on to the Provisional leadership. Danny Morrison was in the audience and on a couple of occasions Duddy addresses Morrison directly.
It is possible that the offer referred to in Duddy’s diary, which is deposited at Galway University, was the formal version of the Danny Morrison-British offer communicated to him the next day, July 6th, 1981. Browne may therefore be confusing the two documents or may be unaware of the video below. It is on YouTube and has been available for some time.
The brokenelbow.com understands that no mention was made of the YouTube video on the TV3 programme.
The relevant section begins at 4:26 and ends at 5:46:
DUDDY: …The British made it absolutely clear that any leakage of this situation in any shape, form or fashion would end the dialogue.
ROWAN: So you scribbled the offer down. You then communicated it to the Republican leadership. I think that your test which is to get somebody into the prison on the Sunday…..
DUDDY: ….(Pointing at someone in the audience) Him.
ROWAN: …into the prison on Sunday to outline…..what has he got to bring into the prison?
DUDDY: Now I want to say this to you….what I was saying was this here. The republicans do not want these hunger strikes. The notion that they want 20, 10, 5, 8, 16 to die is absolute nonsense. But as long as you won’t talk to them and you won’t dialogue with them….the person that I wanted to get into them, (turns to audience) with respect to you Mr Morrison, was Gerry Adams and they said ‘No way, is Adams getting in’. (Turning to the audience and evidently addressing Morrison directly) So (indistinct) you were second choice (laughter). So I considered it a positive way forward to get Danny Morrison in and I was also totally happy that you (DM) were well aware of what was being said and what was on offer and so forth. So getting Danny Morrison was a major, major step forward.
It’s not just Brendan Duddy who stated that the purpose of Danny Morrison’s visit is to Long Kesh on July 5th was to outline the British offer. Morrison said exactly the same thing himself in a BBC Radio Ulster debate with Richard O’Rawe in 2005!
According to Richard O’Rawe:
“Moreover, I made Browne aware of Duddy’s devastating presentation at Feile an Phobail in 2009, but he chose to ignore it. ”