Deflated Eddie McGrady was on verge of quitting politics in late 1985

Eddie McGrady
Eddie McGrady

The late SDLP MP Eddie McGrady told an NIO official in 1985 that he would quit politics if the Anglo-Irish Agreement did not go through.

During a meeting with AJ Merifield in September 1985 — around two months before the agreement was signed — the then SDLP chief whip made clear that he saw an agreement between the two governments as the only hope for politics in the Province.

If the agreement had not been signed and Mr McGrady had followed through on his threat, he would never have been MP for South Down.

He was elected as an MP two years later and held the seat until retiring in 2010. He died last year.

In a confidential note of the 1985 meeting, Mr Merifield said: “He sounded reasonably confident that the odds on the Anglo-Irish Agreement had moved beyond 50-50, and he shared expectations of an outcome by the end of October. If there was no agreement he said he would leave politics — seeing no further point in devoting time and money to participation in what would then be an empty exercise.”