Sinn Féin Louth TD Gerry Adams has extended his “deepest sympathies and condolences” to the family and friends of former Irish Times journalist, writer and historian Brendan Ó Cathaoir who has died.
Deputy Adams said:
“Brendan Ó Cathaoir was an exceptional Gaeilgeoir, journalist and historian. Among his many accomplishments were his ‘Famine Diaries’ published by the Irish Times in the 1990’s to mark the 150th anniversary of the Great Hunger.
“Almost 40 years ago, Brendan visited Bobby Sands in Long Kesh along with Guardian journalist David Beresford. The visit took place on 3 March 1981 just three days after Bobby had commenced his hunger strike.
“In his daily Prison Diary covering the first 17 days of his hunger strike Bobby Sands records the visit. Much of his conversation with Brendan was in Irish. Bobby wrote: ‘I’m feeling exceptionally well today. (It’s only the third day, I know, but all the same I’m feeling great.) I had a visit this morning with two reporters, David Beresford of The Guardian and Brendan Ó Cathaoir of The Irish Times. Couldn’t quite get my flow of thoughts together. I could have said more in a better fashion.’
“The visit was also recorded in an internal confidential NIO ‘weekly Bulletin’ which states: ‘On 3rd March David Beresford (Guardian) and Brendan Ó Cathaoir (Irish Times) saw Sands on a ‘family’ visit. They were required to sign an undertaking that the visit would not be used for journalistic purposes, did so and then claimed on leaving that they would not abide by this.’
“Brendan Ó Cathaoir, like David Beresford, opposed censorship and believed that journalists had a duty to report. His was one of the courageous voices which tried to penetrate the fog of disinformation surrounding the injustices in the H Blocks and Armagh prisons. Bobby Sands appreciated his efforts. So did I and the other supporters of the hungerstrikers.
“To Brendan’s family and many friends, I want to extend my deepest condolences. Ar dheis Dé go raibh a anam dílis.”