Readers like you keep news free for everyone.

More than 5,000 readers have already pitched in to keep free access to The Journal.

For the price of one cup of coffee each week you can help keep paywalls away.

Support us today
Not now
Dublin: 13°C Tuesday 9 August 2022

Gerry Adams questions Bobby Sands hunger strike claim

The Sinn Féin leader said claims in State papers that Sands offered to end his hunger strike would be “totally out of character”.

Adams pictured in front of a mural of Sands in 2005
Adams pictured in front of a mural of Sands in 2005
Image: Paul Faith/PA Archive/Press Association Images

SINN FÉIN LEADER Gerry Adams has questioned apparent revelations about Bobby Sands’s hunger strike contained in newly released State papers.

Official archives released today under the 30-year rule state that Sands offered to end his hunger strike a week before his eventual death, in return for talks with a British government official.

But Adams, who worked with the Sinn Féin prison leadership at the time, said he had “never heard this claim before”.

According to the archives, Sands made the offer to the Pope’s envoy at the time, Fr John Magee, who he met in the Maze prison on several occasions. But writing on his blog, Adams stated that Sands had never subequently mentioned making an offer to Sinn Féin organiser Jim Gibney or Republican prison leader Brendan McFarlane. He said:

For him to have made such an offer and not mention it would have been totally out of character because Bobby diligently reported any developments. In my view he certainly would have mentioned such an important proposal.

Adams also rejected suggestions in the papers that the British leadership had made a compromise offer that was accepted by some in the Republican movement, but rejected by the Provisional IRA leadership as it was gaining politically from the hunger strikes. He wrote:

It is claimed that this ‘offer’ was the substance of the five demands [from strikers] and that it was blocked by outside because the leadership wanted more prisoners to die for political advantage. This lie has caused great hurt to the families of the hunger strikers who subsequently died and to those of us who were involved in the efforts to save them.

More: Archives show Bobby Sands “offered to end hunger strike”>

Read: Full coverage of the State papers on>

Making a difference

A mix of advertising and supporting contributions helps keep paywalls away from valuable information like this article.

Over 5,000 readers like you have already stepped up and support us with a monthly payment or a once-off donation.

For the price of one cup of coffee each week you can make sure we can keep reliable, meaningful news open to everyone regardless of their ability to pay.

About the author:

Michael Freeman

Read next: