Declassified File: DUP Assemblyman said Paisley stood up to party colleagues

Charles Haughey
Charles Haughey

In an 18 April 1986 memo, JE McConnell in the NIO’s Political Affairs Branch relayed details of a conversation with an unnamed DUP Assemblyman.

“In conversation with a DUP Assemblyman I was told that a party meeting had taken place yesterday at which there had been considerable opposition to the idea of talks but Dr Paisley had taken the position that he was in favour and he was going to lead as a leader should. (On the side my contact told me that if this initiative failed Dr Paisley may not be a leader for very long).”

But a year later, little progress had been made by unionists either in their campaign to topple the Agreement or the behind the scenes contacts with the Government about setting up talks. In a 24 February 1987 memo of a meeting between Sir Robert Andrew and the two unionist leaders, Ian Paisley and Jim Molyneaux, Sir Robert reported that Dr Paisley had said that if Charles Haughey became Taoiseach and “decided to take charge of Anglo-Irish relations himself”, leading to him attending a meeting of the Anglo-Irish Intergovernmental Conference in Belfast, “there would be serious disorder”.

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