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September - November

"A large segment of African-Americans are in sympathetic support of the liberation struggle of our Irish comrades against the oppressive tyranny of the British in North Ireland. Indeed, the Irish struggle is tantamount to the struggle of our own brave kinsmen in South Africa against the savage Dutch.

Please accept the enclosed small donation from us to the families of the gallant Irish Republican Army."
      "Solidarity," Letters Readers' Forum
       Irish People, 5 September 1981, 5


AIA Dig. ID 0046PL03
 

"And in Northern Ireland all parties agree that American sympathy and support is the single victory most devoutly to be wished in a propaganda war.

Americans generally receive high marks for their professionalism, energy and courage, and yet it's clear (especially to the U.S. reporters themselves) that the strife in Northern Ireland is being conveyed to the American public in only the most skeletal and simple-minded terms; that the war's roots in the ancient hostility between native Gaels and the colonizers imposed upon them by Great Britain hundreds of years ago are rarely explicated in news broadcasts or even documentaries; and that television's too-quick use of such shorthand phrases as 'sectarian violence' has persuaded many Americans that the conflict is purely a theological war between Catholics and Protestants on some obscure doctrinal issue when, in truth, it has an agonizingly complex history in the cultural, tribal, racial, ethnic, temperamental and social differences of the 1.5 million people of that embattled province...

Another Republican tactic is to export relatives of hunger strikers to the United States for appearances on network-television and local-station news and talk shows, where they are often greeted as celebrities. Cries of 'exploitation' erupted in Britain recently when the 10-year-old daughter of hunger striker Joseph McDonnell was interviewed on Good Morning America show. Local TV stations, especially in cities with large Irish-American populations (New York, Boston, Chicago, Philadelphia) have been receptive to these touring relatives, a factor that moves David Gilliland to complain that 'some TV stations in the United States are platforms for the Republican cause.'

Thus, the British are certain that local TV reporting in Boston is what prompted the Massachusetts House of Representatives recently to adopt a resolution demanding the withdrawal of the British consul from Boston and urging President Reagan to 'consider imposing political and economic sanctions against the Empire of Great Britain.' Such resolutions (and there have been others) leave the British in exasperation and despair over the failure of their own spokesmen-with their cultivated British accents and reasonable tones-to counteract the almost invincible perception in the United States that Northern Catholics are the downtrodden underdogs struggling to free themselves from the same oppressors whom Americans vanquished so satisfyingly in 1781."
      "The Battle for Northern Ireland: How TV Tips the Balance" by Neil Hickey
       TV Guide 26 Sept. - 2 Oct. 1981, 26


"The current issue of TV Guide…this week bears as its cover story 'The Battle for Northern Ireland-How TV Tips the Balance.' Several aspects of the article more than merit our attention. For the article (while not one-sidely favorable) details not only the means both subtle and blunt by which our news of Ireland had been distorted and censored prior to the hunger strike breakthrough, but also provides direct admission by no less an authority than the British government's chief propaganda officer in the north about the tremendous impact of the American hunger strike support campaign against the British."
      "TV Guide on Ireland"
       Irish People, 3 October 1981, 4

"Far from discrediting our cause, British intransigence, which created the hunger strike, has given us international political recognition, and has made the cause of Irish freedom an international issue, has increased support at home and abroad for Irish resistance, and has shown that the oppressed nationalist people and the political prisoners are one."
     Maze prisoners' statement announcing the end of
     the hunger strike
     Chicago Tribune, 4 October 1981, 1-6

"When hunger striker Bobby Sands died, Northern Ireland seemed ready to tear itself apart.

Murder and mayhem ran through the streets and attracted the world's press. At one point, ABC News had seven television camera crews in Northern Ireland. Sympathy for the hunger strikers reached record levels in Ulster, In the Irish Republic, and in the United States…

Yet, with each succeeding death, the violent response was a little less, the news coverage less, and sympathy less."
      "Reagan should act on Ulster" by Michael Kilian
       Chicago Tribune, 5 October 1981, C1-23-1

"Certainly - as far as men and women of good will are concerned - the end of the hunger strike in the H-Blocks of the Maze Prison is welcome news. Arguments as to who won or lost the macabre confrontation are immaterial.

The ten men who died put their own lives on the line - no one else's. What they achieved was that the spotlight of the world press was put on the North. Never before was world opinion so galvanized against British policy in the North of Ireland."
      "End of the hunger strike," Viewpoint
       Irish Echo, 10 October 1981 20

"British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher last week attacked Irish Northern Aid by name. The attack was followed by a highly unusual front page editorial in the London Daily Express, which attacked Mayor Koch of New York, and the Four Horsemen of Irish-American politics, Hugh Carey, Edward Kennedy, Daniel Moynihan and Thomas O'Neill, as well as Irish Northern Aid. The attacks were received by Irish Northern Aid both as an indication of the committee's impact upon the British and as an unanticipated source of further publicity and financial support."
      "Thatcher attacks INA"
       Irish People, 24 October 1981, 2

"The Irish bishops denounced the hunger strike, while Irish priests buried the hunger-strikers. (Sixty priests attended the funeral of Raymond McCreesh.) American Catholics saw the funerals on TV followed by the paramilitary rites of the Provisional Irish Republican Army (IRA)-the coffin draped in the tricolor Irish flag, masked men in uniform firing shots over the dead soldier. Rallies in support of the hunger-strikers in New York and Washington, D.C., included priests celebrating Mass for crowds that frequently broke into the chant 'IRA: All the way.' The press only added to the confusion."
      "Northern Ireland: A Turning Point? Hunger Strike Deaths, the Underlying Issues,
       Four Different Views," by John Bank
       St. Anthony's Messenger, November 1981, 21

"It appears that, far from being a peripheral issue playing to the media, as suspected a few months ago, the seven-month-long hunger strike at Maze Prison is pivotal in understanding the situation. It is the tip of an iceberg of discontent."
      "Northern Ireland: A Turning Point? Hunger Strike Deaths, the Underlying Issues,
       Four Different Views," by John Bank
       St. Anthony's Messenger, November 1981, 22

 

   
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