Declassified Files: RUC officers thought that IRA’s deadly skills had improved

IRA gunman
IRA gunman

A Police Federation document given to the Government argued that even though the RUC had become more professional, so too had the IRA.

The January 15, 1987, document handed to deputy Secretary of State Nicholas Scott at a meeting with the chairman of the Police Federation, Alan Wright, offered a blunt assessment of the IRA’s capabilities.

“The pattern of violence by the IRA has changed over the years. We accept that the RUC has become more professional during the years of violence: that can also be said of the IRA,” it said.

“The number of incidents may have declined but their quality of operation has improved so that we have seen in recent years a significant growth in police deaths.”

The federation also said that it was “galling” that the SDLP was refusing to support the RUC despite its role in resisting violent attempts to derail an agreement from which the SDLP gained the most.

It accused the nationalist party of withholding support for the police as “a political card”.

The document went on to argue that border security - one of the central objectives of the agreement - had not improved since its signing. It said that the Irish security forces “have neither the resources nor expertise to secure their side of the border”.

That is followed by a sentence which has been scored out: “Indeed one is prompted to ask why they give greater priority to peace keeping in the Lebanon [than] to peace keeping on the border.”