Secret files reveal fears of Robinson plotting to declare north independent

Posted By: December 30, 2016

Barrister – now top judge – said to be fierce critic of RUC and UDR

British officials believed Peter Robinson was plotting to declare an independent Northern Ireland 
in the aftermath of the Anglo-Irish Agreement, secret government papers reveal.

Staff Reporter. Irish News. Belfast. Friday, December 30, 2016

In 1986 the chief adviser to prime minister Margaret Thatcher warned Irish officials that the future first minister was “saying things about independence.”

Concerns were repeatedly raised during Anglo-Irish meetings about the possibility of a Rhodesia-style ‘Unilateral Declaration of Independence’ (UDI).

Details are revealed among Irish and British state papers just released into the public domain. Among other previously confidential documents:

n Top judge Lord Justice Weir was said to be highly critical of the RUC and UDR while a barrister in the 1980s.

n There were fears of a Masonic plot against English police chief John Stalker, who investigated an RUC alleged shoot-to-kill policy.

n The possibility of a British minister attending a GAA match was occupying officials’ minds.

In 1986 British cabinet secretary Sir Robert Armstrong – the UK’s top-ranking official – told Irish counterparts that the issue of independence “may become more real.”

In a meeting between Secretary of state Tom King and Taoiseach Garret FitzGerald that year, concerns were also raised that the Northern Ireland assembly could be used to “declare UDI.”

“Robinson was certainly thinking in those terms,” Mr. King said.

Ken Bloomfield, then head of the Northern Ireland Civil Service, warned Irish officials about an attempted revival of Ulster nationalism.

“Unionists are now beginning to realize that the choice facing them is whether to preserve the union or preserve their ascendancy,” he said.