THE News Letter’s 32-page anniversary supplement tomorrow will give intriguing glimpses into the recent and distant past.
The newspaper goes back 275 years, making it the world’s oldest English language daily.
One of the most interesting contributions to the supplement comes from Sam Butler, editor in the 1980s.
He recalls his intention, on arrival in 1984, of promoting a moderate, modern unionism.
But, the following year, the Anglo Irish Agreement was signed behind the backs of unionists by Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher and Taoiseach Garrett FitzGerald.
As Mr Butler recalls, the deal earned the enmity of even the most moderate unionists.
The Alliance vote declined in the aftermath of the accord, although the united unionist campaign against the accord later alienated moderates.
Mr Butler recalls the government bullying of this paper over of its opposition to the deal – opposition vindicated by events.
Unionists were furious that a say in the Province should go to Dublin. The anger was particularly acute given the Republic’s failure, prior to 1985, to help stop IRA murders.
London hoped that the agreement would change this, but was soon proven wrong when the ambivalence of the Irish establishment towards republican mayhem was exposed when it continued failing to extradite terrorists.
Mr Butler recalls how, under his editorship, the paper had backed causes such as freeing the Birmingham Six.
He says that the 1985 deal destroyed moderate, cosmopolitan unionism, and that it never fully recovered.
The British government did this to appease nationalists, who often project moderation while behaving tribally.