Fine Gael Taoiseach Garret FitzGerald is interviewed on 'Today Tonight' about the pressing issues of the day which include the hunger strike in the Maze Prison in Northern Ireland.
FitzGerald supports the British government’s position of refusing to grant political status to the hunger strikers. He is concerned about about ongoing events bolstering support for the provisional republican movement in Ireland and in America, as well as the damage it is causing to north-south Irish and Anglo-Irish relations.
The Irish Government backed an initiative of the Irish Commission for Justice and Peace, which sought to broker a deal to end the hunger strike.
It seemed right for us to try to get that solution agreed and we intervened to that end.
With this solution, the prisoners agreed to less than their five demands and the British were willing to agree to a prison regime which would resolve some of the outstanding problems.
Our attempts to achieve an immediate resolution have obviously failed but I think what we have done is to raise the consciousness of British public opinion on this subject especially political opinion.
Given all the efforts made to solve the H-Block crisis, FitzGerald still believes there is potential for compromise, although this would require a shift in opinion within the British government and for the provisional side to be more flexible. The solution may not come quickly and the reality is, further lives may be lost.
This episode of ‘Today Tonight’ was broadcast on 14 August 1981. The reporter is Barry Cowan.