State files: RUC had major fears over Robinson visiting ‘loyalist Linfield’ ground

A file detailing police worries about Mary Robinson visiting Windsor Park for a 1993 World Cup qualifier has been publicly unveiled.

Thursday, 1st July 2021, 10:07 am
Updated Thursday, 1st July 2021, 10:22 am
The RoI scoring against NI on November 17, 1993
The RoI scoring against NI on November 17, 1993

It is one of a deluge of documents dating from that year which Ulster University’s CAIN service has this week added to its online database.

The match in question was between Northern Ireland and the Irish Republic, on November 17 – and the then-Irish president Mary Robinson was mooted to be going.

The declassified UK government document quotes the objections of a Superintendent Irvine, who said “given the background of the recent bombings and shootings, there could be major security implications”.

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The RUC man was then set to have set out how “it would become obvious that she was in the directors’ box” and that “he could not rule out that there might be a hostile reaction”.

“The match would be played at Windsor Park which was the ground of Linfield whose supporters were primarily loyalists and the attendance of the president would have quite profound implications on police resources and could exacerbate existing problems,” the document stated.

It is not clear if she did indeed end up attending.

But another UK declassified document from November that year set out in detail why the RUC was so nervous.

The Shankill bombing, and the murders at Greysteel and Belfast’s Kennedy Way bin depot had just occurred, and a string of sophisticated bombings had taken place.

“The chief constable had emphasised that although the situation was very serious it was not out of control,” the document reads.

It also laments “a depth of ignorance among important opinion formers” about Northern Ireland – “particularly members of the House of Commons”, some of whom were “promoting Gerry Adams and Sinn Fein” – a possible swipe at Jeremy Corbyn.

Ultimately, the World Cup group 3 game was a 1-1 draw.

More from the newly-uploaded state files:

More from this reporter:

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