Documents censored by the Irish government for 30 years and now released to the public reveal a tumultuous island mired in a decades-long struggle with the UK.
The “30-year rule” allows the government to withhold information from its citizens and will soon be reduced to 20 years, in line with the UK’s recent change in its law.
This week, state papers released by Ireland’s National Archives and reviewed by RTÉ journalists showed what government officials really thought about the historic Anglo-Irish Agreement signed that year, described as a “substantial invasion of British Sovereignty in Northern Ireland”.
British Secretary of State for Northern Ireland Tom King said there had been “a guarded welcome” from the nationalist community and “a hostile reception from the unionist community”.
Irish Foreign Affairs minister Peter Barry said he wasn’t surprised by the unionist reaction and warned about the future leader of the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP), Peter Robinson.
“The unionist reaction wasn’t any worse than I had expected,” the report quotes Minister Barry. “The Irish government is the hate organisation for unionists. I think the steam has run out of (Ian) Paisley, but Robinson is a dangerous man. He appears to be taking over the DUP and is much harder than Paisley.”
Some 23 years later his prediction came true as Robinson, a former paramilitary, became the hard-line leader of the DUP and eventually, First Minister of Northern Ireland.
Robinson last month announced he was resigning from both positions amid accusations of financial impropriety and recent…