The 1981 Irish Hunger Strike

An Account from Declassified British Documents

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About the Book

The hunger strike of 1981 is regarded as one of the most tragic events in Irish history. Ten men died over a period of 217 days in the H-Blocks of Long Kesh (Maze) prison while exercising the most extreme form of civil disobedience available to them: entering a hunger strike. The Troubles that gave rise to the hunger strike had roots in the centuries of socio-economic subjugation and religious persecution in Ireland. At the early stages of the Troubles in 1971, the British government began internment without trial for persons suspected of belonging to paramilitary organizations. Eventually, the British government granted Special Category Status to these prisoners before later stripping it from the prisons by 1976. The removal of Special Category Status led to a five-year prisoner protest for the introduction of the “basic five demands” that culminated into the 1981 hunger strike.
This book critically examines declassified British government documents that detail how the policies of the British government led to the 1981 hunger strike, how Margaret Thatcher exacerbated the hunger strike by decisively refusing to initiate the steps necessary to end it, and how the hunger strike eventually led to peace in the north. Analysis of the declassified documents also illustrates how the 1981 hunger strike, and the ten men who died on it, forced a revolutionary change in the political and governmental structure of the north and paved a road to peace that concluded with the signing of the 1998 Good Friday Agreement.

About the Author(s)

Michael C. Mentel is an appellate court judge in Ohio. His legal career includes the positions of chief legal officer of a large engineering firm and partner in a nationally distinguished law firm. He is admitted to the bar in Ohio, the U.S. District Courts of Ohio, the U.S. Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals, and the United States Supreme Court.

Bibliographic Details

Michael C. Mentel
Format: softcover (6 x 9)
Bibliographic Info: notes, bibliography, index
Copyright Date: 2023
pISBN: 978-1-4766-9395-8
eISBN: 978-1-4766-5148-4
Imprint: McFarland