Hume claimed Molyneaux attempted secret Dublin back-channel

Posted By: August 30, 2017

Hume claimed Molyneaux attempted secret Dublin back-channel

John Hume claimed Jim Molyneaux wanted him to pass secret messages to the Irish government

Sam McBride. News Letter. Belfast.Tuesday, August 29, 2017

The then Ulster Unionist leader Jim Molyneaux wanted to use John Hume as a secret back-channel to

Taoiseach Charles Haughey, the SDLP leader claimed in 1991. The claim, contained within files declassified at the Public Record Office in Belfast, suggests a considerable level of trust between Mr. Molyneaux and Mr.Hume and is also surprising because unionists were deeply antagonistic to Dublin influence at that point, coming just six years after the Anglo-Irish Agreement had given the Republic a consultative role on Northern Ireland affairs. Mr. Haughey was also viewed with deep suspicion by Unionists due to his Republican sympathies. A confidential note released under the 20 Year Rule contains details of a late night phone call which Northern Ireland Office (NIO) official D. G. McNeill received from Mr. Hume on June 27, 1991. The note said that the veteran SDLP leader – who was described as having been fairly abrasive and aggressive – “went on to repeat what he had told me in the strictest confidence the other day about Jim Molyneaux. “He said that Jim Molyneaux had told him that he did not like the way things were going; that Peter Robinson did not speak for him and that he (Jim Molyneaux) was not committed to the way the process was shaping up. “Hume went further this time and again in strictest confidence, he told me that Molyneaux had asked him to engage in private discussions outside the conference and indeed had indicated to John Hume that he would want John Hume to pass secret messages to Charles Haughey about the Unionist Party’s position. “Hume would not go into detail on the latter on the telephone.” However, almost a year earlier, Mr. Molyneaux had expressed skepticism about the ability of Mr. Hume to act as a reliable conduit for messages. A confidential memo by private secretary S.J. Leach recorded details of a conversation between Mr. Molyneaux and the secretary of state in which Mr. Molyneaux was said to have expressed the view that “Mr. Hume, whatever his other talents, was a most unreliable intermediary. “It would be valuable to find out directly from the Irish what precisely had been in Mr. Haughey’s mind when he made the offer.”