H-Block/Armagh Campaign News Sheet
Feb. 1981

There are good reasons to believe that the British Government can be forced to honour that agreement or any new one made by that same united support throughout Ireland and Internationally.


Over 600 people attended the conference which was very strong and united, and which agreed overwhelmingly to:

"Demand an immediate end to all collaboration, both diplomatic and military between the Irish Government and the British Government, an end to all talks between Haughey and Thatcher, the immediate expulsion of the British ambassador and the withdrawal of the Irish ambassador.... demands an immediate end to all collaboration between the Free State Army and Gardai and the torturers and murderers of the British Army, RUC and UDR."

"In the event of the prisoners being forced to embark on another hunger strike, the National Committee is committed to building a mass campaign, the declared intention of which is to make the 32 Counties ungovernable."

The conference further agreed to demand of Haughey "to end the campaign of systematic harrassment which has been directed against H-Block activists."

And Conference challenged every political party and orginisation to publicly support "the right of this open peaceful and democratic campaign to exist, free from the murderous assaults of the Loyalist assassins and their British aIlies, and the right to defend themselves against such attacks."


By the middle of December, there were 242 Action groups in the 32 Counties -- Tyrone 27 groups; Donegal 25; Fermangh 23; There were increasing numbers of Youth groups, Women's groups, and Trades Unionists.

* Dublin Youth groups: 500 skinheads came out on a march on the first evening they were approached. The support there has been a bit up and down, but there are now 8 or 9 youth groups in Dublin.

* Youth groups in West Belfast mobilised 5,000 young people, one group for example literally gummed up the city centre by super-glueing security doors and gates at the big shops.

* For the first time workers throughout the 32 Counties came together. More workers marched in the massive work stoppages in Belfast and Derry in support of the prisoners than in anything organised by the official Trade Union movement in the past 1x (note: number on original copy smudged) years

* "The grass roots of most political parties as well as trade unions supported the prisoners' demands as did human rights organisations, cultural groups, women's groups, legal groups, and churchmen" (Nat H B/A Cmm report)

* By the middle of the campaign it had been agreed that there should be women to speak on Armagh at every public meeting


"It was a good thing that the broad front developed. It has paved the way for an anti-imperialist front"
- Mick Ahearn, Editor, paper of IRSP 24/1/81

"The main thing about the issue of the hunger strike was that we all came together, we were united in one solitary cause.

And people have come to realise through that work that there are other broader issues that we can unite on. We've had such success, and Sinn Fein would be very hopeful that we will unite and come together, and work together on broader issues in the future.

There has been this tremendous desire in the ordinary hunger strike action groups across the country for closer cooperation on the question of British withdrawal for instance.

...Certainly you learn from each other. I don't doubt SF has learnt quite a lot from other political groups. Quite a lot of people have learnt from us too. There's been a mutual education there....

...I think the one big lesson that has been learned this time is that we tackled one issue in the H Blocks and we saw that from the unity that was there we could extend it to other areas."
- Joe Cahill, Dublin SF 26/1/81

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The British Government was forced to grant the substance of the 5 demands on December 13th, through the united protest of different organisations and different political opinions throughout the 32 Counties and internationally.

"On December 18th, the prisoners were given 2 documents - the 34 page document and the Atkins speech. This, together with an apparent change of attitude by the prison authorities - as shown, for example, by their recognition of the prisoners' command structure within-the jail - led the prisoners to believe that the terms of the document would be implemented in a manner which would ensure the substance of the 5 demands....

...However, as in other times in Irish history, the British once more reneged!"
- Fr. Piaras O Duill, Chairman
National H-Block/Amargh Committee 25/1/81

"The British Government believes that it can backtrack on the step by step solution, that it can ignore the docunent they gave to the men. We, and the prisoners, want the issue resolved. But if the price for a solution is surrender then the British Government will not get it."
- Joe Austin, PRO
Belfast Sinn Fein 31/1/81 interview

"The 34 page document was a basis for meeting the 5 demands. The British Government has reneged....

...The point of the 5 demands was to mobilise liberal opinion in the So uth. It was necessary to have the 5 demands, although much of the support was more than humanitarian.

Given that the campaign has been for the 5 demands, and that mass mobilisations took place on that basis, and given that the British Government would never concede political status by name, in that context, a campaign for political status as such would be counter-productive.
- Mick Ahearn, Editor, Starry Plough
Newspaper of IRSP

(Note: This quote is taken from an interview 24/1/81, updated by phone 12/2/81. Final confirmation of its accuracy not done because IRSP phone out of order)

"We have serverd notice on the British Government that if they do not grant the prisoners 5 reasonable demands immediately then we will unleash a whirlwind of protest in Ireland and internationally which will force the concessions from them."
National H-Block/Armagh Committee 25/1/81

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