Ulster Unionist leader Jim Molyneaux wrote to an NIO junior minister to accuse the Government of setting up a Stormont Assembly as a “toothless bribery-machine” as part of an attempt to engineer a united Ireland.
The 4 June 1985 note, on House of Commons headed notepaper, was sent to Dr Rhodes Boyson, then a minister of state at the NIO, amid unionist suspicions about talks between London and Dublin.
Mr Molyneaux said: “I would have hoped you had been long enough by now in your present post to know better than serve up to me the Northern Ireland Office patter in your reply of 13 May.
“You know, or should if you do not, that the purpose of devolution on the terms proposed is, as it has been since 1919, to secure the transfer of Ulster into an all-Ireland state.
“Hence the requirement of so-called ‘widespread acceptance’ etc., which means veto powers for republicans.
“Hence also the spoon feeding of Jim Prior’s Assembly, as a toothless bribery-machine, until it is ready to take its part in an Anglo-Irish set-up.
“I am surprised that you would lend yourself to attempting to defend the treatment of a part of the United Kingdom in a manner in which you would not for a moment countenance being applied to a part of Great Britain.”
The blistering one-page letter added: “What on earth do you imagine all the talk is going on about with the Irish Government, whose objective is, with the assistance of American pressure, to draw Ulster into an all-Ireland republic?”