Posted By: January 07, 2015

Allison Morris. Irish News ( Belfast). Wednesday, January 7, 2015
IT has become an annual tradition: just as the last of the leftovers are fed to a grateful dog, the declassified government files are released giving a glimpse of a not so bygone time, a time when Paisley was still rabble rousing and Adams was wearing a duffle coat.

Thirty years sounds like a long time but when you consider that many of the political leaders of the day are still in positions of power you can see how the information contained in the files could cause red faces in the halls of Stormont.

The recent raft of information hasn’t been good for the DUP, revealing details of a number of embarrassing meetings and briefings that took place behind closed doors. Doors that have now been flung open.

Among the details revealed was that the DUP’s Willie McCrea wanted to go to war with the Irish Republic, urging ‘Libya-style’ air strikes on Drogheda and Dundalk, potentially killing hundreds of civilian men, women and children.

Not only that, Willie – who hates terrorists so much he once shared a stage with sectarian psychopath Billy Wright – wanted to drop bombs on Crossmaglen on the northern side of the border.

The bombing of people, and when I say people it’s clear we’re talking about Catholics here, was discussed at a DUP conference.

At the same conference Gregory Campbell, a man who has not mellowed with age, is said to have wanted Maryfield – the Anglo Irish secretariat building in Belfast – demolished “foundations and all”.

Files released from the public records office also reveal that figures within the DUP were conspiring against Peter Robinson – no change there then.

The then deputy leader of the party was described as being “cold and calculating” by an unnamed party member.

The NIO also noted that the Robinson-led invasion of Clontibret in Co Monaghan in 1986 was seen as a challenge to Ian Paisley’s leadership at a time when he was out of the country.

In more recent years Robinson has faced dissent from within his own party. Unable to invade the Republic, how he must have wished for an event to show the Paisleyites he was still as staunch as the rest of them. Something like, oh, I don’t know, an orchestrated uprising over a flag.

While country and western Willie’s request to blanket bomb large swathes of Ireland fell on deaf ears, it seems the Irish government’s appeal to flatten Divis flats in west Belfast to “reduce the influence of extremists” was reluctantly accepted by NIO minister Richard Needham.

Those such as myself old enough to remember the flats will recall the dire conditions residents lived in, with cold, dark, damp flats totally unsuitable for raising a family.

While all but the tower block were eventually replaced, the problems caused by that particular social housing experiment continue to affect residents to the present day.

Jim Allister, it has been revealed, found himself rather awkwardly sitting beside an NIO official on a London train during a unionist boycott of the office in the wake of the hated Anglo Irish Agreement.

The then DUP man, it was reported, was “very pleased indeed” that preliminary talks now seen as a precursor to the Good Friday Agreement had “bitten the dust”.

It’s reassuring to know that while some things change others will forever stay the same.

And finally, north Belfast boxer Paddy Barnes was among those to get a nod in the new year’s honours list this week.

I’m sure Paddy thought long and hard before accepting the accolade, knowing it was likely to receive a mixed reaction in his home city.

Paddy is a sportsman first but aside from that dedicates much of his time to charity and community work.

He’s not a politician and boxing has always been a sport that transcended religious strife in the north, even at the height of the conflict. I wish him well and hope to see him representing Ireland in Rio in 2016.

A very happy and peaceful new year to you and yours.