Pressure for a resolution to the hunger strike continues as the Pope's personal envoy comes to the H-Block on a mission to find common ground.
Personal envoy of Pope John Paul II, Fr Magee, has spent the last few days with the hunger strikers and members of the British government in an effort to find a resolution to the hunger strike.
At a news conference Jim Gibney of the National H-Blocks Committe provides an update on his meeting with Fr Magee. Fr Magee explained to Gibney that his mission at the H-Block was directed at both the British government and the hunger strikers. Bobby Sands told Fr Magee that the granting of the prisoner's five demands would terminate the hunger strike immediately. Fr Magee also met Humphrey Atkins, the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, asking what would put an end to the strike and if there was any common ground between the British government and the prisoners. Mr Atkins instructed Fr Magee to tell the prisoners that no concessions would be made, there was no common ground and that they should end the hunger strike immediately. Jim Gibney says that it was obvious that Fr Magee was shocked by the heavy handed attitude of Mr Atkins.
His mission was clearly floundering
John Gibney also describes the situation of Francis Hughes, who is determined to stand by the five demands of the prisoners.
At the same news conference John Deering asked Bernadette McAliskey if in view of the attitude of the British government, she was now resigned to the fact that Bobby Sands would die.She responds,
There are five demands the granting of which will save Bobby Sand's life.
BernadetteMcAliskey believes that public and direct pressure from Taoiseach Charles Haughey will make the British government change their mind. She calls on Haughey to give a ministerial broadcast to the nation stating that if the British government is not prepared to consider the demands of the prisoners, then it is futile for his government to consider the pretext at diplomatic relations and that if the demands are not met then diplomatic relations should end.
An RTÉ News report by Yvonne Murphy broadcast on 29 April 1981.
The accompanying photograph above was taken on 13 May 1981 and shows a British soldier looking out for snipers as he patrols the Falls Road in Belfast. The graffiti in the background is in support of Bobby Sands and his fellow hunger-strikers. (Photo by Rob Taggart/Central Press/Getty Images)