IRA ATTITUDE ON H-BLOCK
An Phoblacht/Republican News
September 5th, 1981
A spokesman for the Irish Republican Army, authorised to speak on behalf of the leadership, has outlined to "An Phoblacht/Republican News" the attitude of the army to the H-Block hungerstrike and to the repulican participation in elections.
Firstly, he spoke about the attitude of the IRA to the continuation of the six month long hungerstrike in which ten blanket men have died, and what effect it has had on the IRA in terms of morale and support.
The attitude of the IRA to the hungerstrike is well known and authenticated over the last two to three years. We made strenuous efforts to prevent a hungerstrike in the most concrete way possible by making an escalation of the blanket protest unncesessary.
We discouraged the prisoners on numerous occasion when they felt that a hungerstrike was the only logical means of bringing public pressure to bear on the British. On one occasion, when disccussion were taking place between Cardinal O'Fiaich, Bishop Daly and the British administration, we suspended operation against prison officials. We placed no obstacles in the way of those who wished to bring their influence to bear on the situation. In fact we encouraged numerous groups and individuals to assist in finding a principled and permanent end to the prison protests.
One cannt look at the hungerstrike outside of the contest of the five years of prison protest. In a press statement written incidentally by Bobby Sands, on behalf of the protesting prisoners in 1978, a full account was given of the deprivations and indignities suffered by the prisoners. It concluded by stating: 'Let no one say, as many did about Nazi concentration camps, that they did not know what was happening.'
Even Cardinal O Fiaich, no friend of the IRA, said after his visit to the H-Blocks in July 1978, that the prisoners would rather suffer death than be branded with the indignity of being labelled as "criminals."
While public opinion throughout the world has been alerted since the hungerstrike commencing for reasons of fraternal concern for our comrades, strategy and political considerations - basically that our understanding of the political situation in Ireland is that British interest are protected by loyalists, but also by those who purport to fit into the nationalist camp. "