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State Papers from 1983 released this week… December 27, 2013

Posted by WorldbyStorm in Irish Politics.

…I’ve been reading, as best as I am able, the various accounts in the news media of the State Papers. Obviously there’s a filtering effect, but this RTÉ report isn’t bad. This, from the IT, is perhaps sketchier than might be expected. Here’s some from the BBC on NI state papers.

This from the latter is educative:

The secretary of state noted that he had power to proscribe any organisation that appeared to him to be concerned in terrorism or promoting it.

There were, the official acknowledged, considerable drawbacks to this course of action.
Sinn Féin MLA Gerry Kelly in 1983 Police released this photo of Gerry Kelly in 1983 after he escaped from the Maze prison

Mr Lyon noted: “It would be seen a reaction to the London bombing, when terrorist outrages in Northern Ireland had brought no such response. Sinn Féin might well change its nom de guerre.”

The memo added: “There was a danger too that those who had voted for Sinn Féin in recent elections without actively supporting terrorism might be further alienated from the constitutional process.”

In the end, the idea of banning Sinn Féin was rejected.

Here’s some from RTÉ on UK state papers.
And here’s a radio clip on same.

From the former there is (in addition to a British assessment that PSF was increasingly focusing on political activity) this:

In the same section of the report it is stated that “local Communist parties are extremely small and of no threat to the State. However, the Workers Party (formerly Sinn Féin the Workers party, formerly Official Sinn Féin, the political wing of the Official IRA) is an ideological party of the extreme left with a violent, subversive background.”

“The party has a small membership but an uncorrespondingly high number of officials. Soviet advertisements appear in the party’s magazine, Workers Life, and there are obvious contacts between the party and the Soviet Embassy.

“The party has two members of parliament and a number of party members hold positions in the news media (particularly RTE) and trade unions.”

And then there’s this, indicative of the hesitancy that reappeared in relation to British politicians and the North across the decades:

An account of a meeting between Mrs Thatcher and her Northern Secretary recorded: “The Prime Minister asked whether it was Mr Prior’s basic concern that because the supporters of violence were going to win, we should organise a tactical withdrawal. Mr Prior said that this was not his view.

“He was not suggesting for one moment that we should withdraw troops from Northern Ireland. This would be utterly wrong. He was absolutely convinced that withdrawal would mean civil war. His main point was that he believed it would be a massive mistake to do nothing during the next five years.”

The account, just released under the 30-year rule, continued: “The Prime Minister expressed doubts as to whether we could solve the Northern Ireland problem. This must be for the people of Northern Ireland to solve though we could perhaps act as a catalyst. Agreeing, Mr Prior said that we could also provide a framework within which the people of Northern Ireland could try to solve their problems.”

And more links or accounts from the papers that have caught people’s eyes gratefully accepted.

Also, here is a thread on a more local aspect of these releases – raised by Tomboktu – that is of concern.

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1. CMK - December 27, 2013

Good pic in today’s IT showing a nun and a WP activist outside a polling station during the 1983 referendum.

WorldbyStorm - December 27, 2013

This one, http://www.irishtimes.com/news/social-affairs/anti-abortion-campaigner-offered-to-water-down-1983-amendment-in-secret-talks-1.1637588 Yeah, it’s good. Amazing to think back on how active/intrusive politics could be so close to the voting booth.

CMK - December 27, 2013

Yes, that’s the one. Good snapshot of that period, the religious and the secular battling it out…..

It’s illegal now, as far as I know, to leaflet outside a polling station. It would be a strange sight nowadays to see a nun in her outfit politically intervening. I daresay probably not a few nuns might be pro-choice these days.

richotto - December 27, 2013

Nuns against right to life? What an imagination you have, a secular version of nuns seeing the light.

2. Jack Jameson - December 28, 2013

RTÉ’ report on state papers compiled by David McCullagh and Conor McMorrow, I believe.

3. Irish and NI 1983 State Papers Released - December 28, 2013

[…] – Political News | Irish & International Politics | The Irish Times – Fri, Dec 27, 2013 State Papers from 1983 released this week… | The Cedar Lounge Revolution Mandela’s freedom of city ‘is not fitting’ – 1983 state […]

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