Declassified Files: NIO advised against contact with two ‘unsympathetic’ academics

The document is contained within previously classified files released at the Public Record Office
The document is contained within previously classified files released at the Public Record Office

Two academics were included on a confidential 1990 list of “unsympathetic” opinion formers in west Belfast “to be avoided”.

Forwarding the list to colleagues, John McConnell of the NIO’s Political Affairs Division said that it was produced jointly between his division and Nigel Hamilton, who would go on to become head of the Civil Service.

He said: “We would urge caution in the way this information is communicated to the Army, or indeed whether this should happen at all. The last thing we need, as we have already agreed, is for enthusiastic army officers to make direct contact with those on the list in a militaristic way.”

The list of “unsympathetic” individuals included Fr Des Wilson, academics Mike Tomlinson and Bill Rolston, the then West Belfast Action for the Unemployed figure and future Sinn Féin MLA Caitirona Ruane, and Stevie Johnston of the Falls Community Council.

It also included all Sinn Féin elected representatives in West Belfast as well as the groups Glar na Ngael, Divis Joint Development Committee and the Falls Women’s Group.