Irish ‘not surprised’ at furious unionist reaction to accord

Rev Ian Paisley
Rev Ian Paisley

According to a British note of the first meeting of the Anglo-Irish Intergovernmental Conference (set up under the Anglo-Irish Agreement) in December 1985, the British were concerned at the unionist reaction to the Agreement, but the Irish side claimed to not be surprised.

The document, classified as ‘secret’, said that the Irish minister for foreign affairs, Peter Barry, “replied that unionist reaction to the Agreement had been entirely predictable and (so far) no worse than the Irish Government had expected.

“Unionists had not studied the agreement properly and their hostility arose mainly from the fact that they had not been consulted. Mr Paisley was running out of steam and the leadership of the DUP seemed to be passing to Mr Robinson. The UUP were divided but would probably do well in the by-elections.”

Mr Barry said he had been “impressed by the professionalism and dedication of the RUC” whose work had ensured the first meeting could be held in Belfast; to have held it elsewhere would have been “disastrous”, he said.