8 things we learned from the State Papers: Day two


Author David McCullagh, Conor McMorrow and Justin McCarthy

Government papers and secret letters, memos and minutes written by politicians and government officials as they deal with the day’s problems. They were not made to be seen by humans – to this day.

Here are eight things we have learned from recent publications:

1. A wonderful trip to South Africa

“Confusion” and “garbage”: John Bruton did not pull the trigger when he heard of a plan to bring political leaders to the safari north of South Africa.

The February 1997 idea of ​​conducting a seminar for leaders of political parties in Northern Ireland at a game reserve in South Africa was not of taoiseach taste: “This is rubbish. expelling people who do not do business at home. JB “.

The South African seminar was presented by Professor Padraig O’Malley, of the University of Massachusetts in Boston. He was told that it would take place over the weekend from February 27 to March 3, and that “officials from all parties in Northern Ireland have shown interest in attending”.

Professor O’Malley invited the vice president or vice president of each party to attend the “aremote game reserve” conference. Funds from institutions such as Ireland Funds were scheduled to be disbursed, while the South African Government would have to pay the full amount to South Africa.

The government’s Fax of 16 January 1997 ‘Possible South Africa Seminar’ stated: “In a nutshell, I would like to inform you that in favor of the alliance I would like to get the NI politicians involved in a midnight game – a hunting trip.” In a separate manuscript, taoiseach wrote: “The mind is shaken!

2. Robinson’s black kitchen

Taoiseach Charles Haughey ordered an engineer report to shed light on the dangerous situation of Áras an Uachtaráin when Mary Robinson became President.

By 1990, Mrs. Robinson was not impressed with ukhras’ cleanliness, informing staff that “good cleaning work is needed”.

The report, presented to Taoiseach Charles Haughey, raised serious concerns about fire safety

The new president, apparently concerned about the state of the house, also issued a report by a business engineer, saying that immediate action was needed to keep the house “safe to live in” before his family moved.

The report, presented to Taoiseach Charles Haughey, raised serious concerns about fire safety, with the engineer saying that “health and safety officials have no choice but to protest against the building”.

Haughey ordered that the report be compiled – or, as government officials state, “not published, unless information is needed”.

He presented the second report to the Office of the Public Works, which reduced many of the concerns raised by the President.

3. Double speaking in the Department of Foreign Affairs

“In war,” says the proverb, “truth is the first injury.” To illustrate this, and that government officials in the Department of Foreign Affairs appear to have a sense of humor, the document was published during the Gulf War in 1991, entitled “Middle East Information Center – Telephone Handbook (or lie).”

The document gives a number of sentences, and then explains what each of them means. For example, “Report is unconfirmed”, meaning “We know that, but we do not want you to know.”

Udated Department of Foreign Affairs memo

“We are watching what is happening” means “We are watching the news”, while “We want to make it clear” means “We have changed to Sky News”.

The term “Contravening International standards” means “not doing what we want it to do”, but also what we really like, “This is media hype”, meaning “We know, but we didn’t know he knew that.” .

4. No one has accepted the title of Boomtown brat

Boomtown Rats leader Bob Geldof was unaware of the incident, but in a conversation with Norwegian television in the late 1980s, he expressed himself to be nominated by the Irish Government for the Nobel Peace Prize.

In January 1987, Taoiseach Garret FitzGerald petitioned the Irish government to allow the singer to receive the Nobel Peace Prize for the second year, as he was presumed guilty of missing out on last year.

Taoiseach wrote to dynasty Dick Spring: “As another distinguishing mark of his efforts, I would like to say that we can re-elect Mr. Geldof at the 1987 Nobel Peace Prize.”

Geldof helped raise millions in hunger relief in 1985 by organizing Live Aid concerts in London and Philadelphia.

Bob Geldof at Live Aid in 1985

Even so, officials in Ireland did not believe he would succeed, and they sought the advice of the Irish ambassador to Copenhagen, who also covered the city of Oslo, the home of the Norwegian Nobel Committee.

Ambassador Liam Rigney said Geldof’s failure to win the previous year was the “age and history” of a leading leader.

He further added that the “fantasy” was confirmed by Geldof himself, in a Norwegian television interview, which could be a “rat trap”, setting the stage for the singer to return to the Peace Prize.

“Mr. Geldof was asked why he felt that he had not won (won the Nobel Peace Prize,” the ambassador stated. . historically, the type of person whose life could have a future impact on events that would not be considered coincidental with the Nobel Prize winner. “

“I do not think anyone can ignore what Geldof has said, and I doubt he can lie somewhere close to the truth. Given all that, I would be reluctant to accept Geldof’s re-election to the Nobel Peace Prize this year,” he said.

Dublin officials agreed, urging taoiseach that the issue should “stop.”

This idea has not been pursued.

5 Irish workers used as human shields

An Irish construction company complained that its workers were being used as “public shields” in an Iraqi prison in the late 1990’s, in an attempt to stem the tide of Iraqi invasion by Western troops.

Secret State files show that MF Kent’s leader, Gus Kearney, had asked for help to help Charles Haughey in 1990 to release workers detained by Iraqi officials before attacking US troops.

Two of them were holders of Irish passports, who they said were kept as “public shields”. Mr Kearney also described his staff as “incompatible” with staff at Parc, Aer Lingus’ company, which operates a hospital in Baghdad.

Records show 25 Parc employees received visas from Iraq on November 14, 1990, with Kearney saying: “We have not been able to obtain a visa even though our work is over and our staff is not involved.”

Government files do not show Government response to Mr Kearney’s letter. However, a few days earlier, the Irish ambassador to Baghdad, Antóin Mac Unfraidh, asked if he could ask the Iraqi authorities for permission to leave MF Kent staff on the same trip as their German counterparts.


State Papers 1994-97: Fire damage tests Bruton-Major relationship

Politicians are doing bad things

‘Stupid hanging’: RUC’s view on dismissal


6. Roger Casement is missing a gun

German rifles, seized from Roger Casement when they arrived at Kerry and U-boat in 1916, were illegally sold, or perhaps “exported” in 1990.

Confidential documents released from the National Archives tell the story of a U.S. gunman who somehow acquired the weapons, which were kept in a warehouse at Clancy Barracks.

The collector wrote to the Genealogical Office in Ireland to find out more about Casement – including pictures of medals given to him by Ireland after he was killed in London for the Crown uprising weeks after the Easter Ascension.

‘appears to have been found incorrectly at some point and, possibly, exported without permission’

The collector described how he found the “Navy Luger rifles” that took place at the Clancy Barracks. “I realized their great historical significance, and since then, in the end, I was able to negotiate with them in 1990, and I was in Dublin last January to complete this article and send them here.”

The matter was raised at the Taoiseach Department where a government official wrote of the equipment: “.

“At the moment, I don’t think there can be a question of helping whoever is here as much as they want.”

7. Pee Flynn wears a peacemaker

There is a paid price for peace. In some cases, it may include turning the other cheek when your hero is insulted.

At least according to the Minister of Justice Padraig Flynn. In September 1992, he was part of an Irish delegation, led by Taoiseach Albert Reynolds, who met with British Prime Minister John Major and Northern Secretary Patrick Mayhew in London.

Padraig Flynn turns another cheek (RollingNews.ie)

Mayhew urged both parties not to give up despite facing obstacles and criticisms.

Such criticism can be hurtful – deeply – according to minister Flynn, who demonstrated the results by referring to himself in a third person:

“Sitting there (in the negotiations) and swearing at me, my party insults me. Eamon de Valera has been despised. I tell myself: ‘Shut up Flynn’. There is a great reward here (peace). Let’s do good and work together. “

8. The Messiah of the Major

While Irish officials were preparing for the Christmas evening of British Prime Minister John Major’s visit to Dublin in 1995, concerns arose over the donations for theater that were in the country’s capital at the time.

The selection included several pantomime: Aladdin, in Gaiety, and The Adventures of Chez Mouse, in Peacock.

There was also a song, The King and I, starring in the Olympia Theater, and the Bjorn Again Christmas Show at The Point, which the executives enthusiastically described as the “ABBA pop show”.

He eventually settled in Handel’s Messiah play at the National Concert Hall. Records from the National Archives show that the evening also affected the stage visit to the mall, which was discussed between officials who urged the two leaders, Major and taoiseach John Bruton, to move from Government buildings to Doheny and Nesbitt pubs in Baggot. Street, where they can draw “pints of Guinness / Murphy’s / Beamish”.

Major audience reception at NCH by Major was really ‘encouraging’

Instead, the “surprise” trip was at Foley’s bar on Merrion Row, where staff at the taoiseach secret office, the constituency office, and the protocol section, as well as the State Secretariat were waiting as extra films “on the air. “

In the evening, they seemed to be the winner.

He was described by Major in a letter to taoiseach on December 22, 1995 as “very good evening”. The Prime Minister said his wife Norma told him it was “one of the most exciting evenings he has had in the last five years”.

Mr Major’s secret secretary, Roderic Lyne, also expressed appreciation. In a letter to government officials, he said that the reception given to the audience at NCH by Mr Major was “worrying – even for a former disabled Stalinist”. Lyne probably claims himself, not the Prime Minister, as the former Stalinist.

Based on the available records for viewing in the National Archives of Ireland.

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