NEW: The 1981 Hunger strike documents now include the full text of the 'Red Book'
outlining in detail the progress of the secret negotiations between the IRA
and the British government to end the Republican hunger strike of 1981. They also include a transcript of the text.
The selected documents are taken from the three main periods during which Brendan Duddy secretly acted as an intermediary between the British government and the IRA. The first was in the early and mid 1970s when Duddy acted as intermediary during a series of contacts over the release of hostages and the ending of hunger strikes. This contact culminated in the long IRA ceasefire of 1975 during which British government and Provisional Republican representatives held a series of formal meetings in Duddy’s house in Derry. The archive includes his diaries of negotiation in 1975 and 1976 as well as many handwritten and typed messages exchanged between the two sides.
In 1980 and 1981 Duddy acted again as intermediary during the Republican hunger strikes. In July 1981 he began to record these contacts, conducted by telephone, in a red hardbound notebook, the ‘Red book’. The handwritten formal messages that were dictated to Duddy over the phone are interspersed with sparse personal comments and notations indicating how these contacts sometimes stretched through the night and indicating the intensity of the tensions at this negotiating intersection.
Between 1990 and 1993 Duddy was again active at this intersection after a new Northern Ireland Secretary of State, Sir Peter Brooke, made the decision to try to incorporate the Provisionals in a political settlement, an effort continued by his successor Sir Patrick Mayhew. Duddy was called upon again to take up the role of intermediary and his archive includes the messages passed between the two sides as well as his own contemporary ‘narrative’ of the intense contacts of 1993.
The selected documents highlight the secrecy and tension involved in this communication and negotiation and add significantly to our understanding of this crucial interface between the British state and the IRA.
Dr. Niall Ó Dochartaigh