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Those state papers January 4, 2017

Posted by WorldbyStorm in Uncategorized.

How seriously can one take them? Well perhaps not too seriously given that so much is analysis, or often just commentary, based on assessments made at the time. For example.

Northern Ireland’s former First Minister Peter Robinson was plotting to declare an independent state amid a feared bloodbath in the aftermath of the Anglo-Irish Agreement, British officials believed.
In one of a flurry of high-level intergovernmental meetings in 1986, then-British Cabinet secretary Sir Robert Armstrong — the UK’s top-ranking official — told Irish counterparts Mr Robinson was “saying things about independence”.

But how much of this could be taken at face value. So much would depend on who and when and where he was ‘saying things’. Indeed it could be precisely to generate a response, of whatever sort, amongst the British that such things would be said.

And there’s a such an obvious aspect of shadow boxing in the following:

Sir Robert told officials that unionists who feared the recently-signed agreement was a precursor to a British withdrawal would prefer an independent Northern Ireland rather than a united Ireland.
“However, they do not appear to have thought out the full consequences of this course — and enthusiasm for it is far less than widespread,” he said.

Of course it wasn’t thought out. As Armstrong noted there was little or no sentiment for it. And what political force of any strength stood behind it as an option? Not that the fact that Robinson et al saw the need to say this sort of stuff isn’t interesting in itself. After the Anglo-Irish Agreement it is clear that unionism of whatever shade took a significant hit to its morale and so small wonder that various balloons were floated. That they were of little or no consequence is neither here nor there. It is actually reminiscent of the later efforts made in the late 1980s and very early 1990s as the peace process was gathering speed for devolution, efforts I’ve heard some say would have offered an alternative (and in effect a process that incorporated the UUP and the SDLP and kept SF outside) – efforts that were likely only made because of said peace process. But the moment for an SDLP/UUP deal had passed by then and whatever else a different future was emerging.


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