President's dog killed by poison
A ROW erupted over the death of President Patrick Hillery's pet dog, which met its end in the grounds of Aras an Uachtarain, probably from rat poisoning. The 180lb St Bernard died in 1978, prompting a dispute between the Aras top brass and the Office of Public Works that went on for over two years.
A vet declared the death had been due to poisoning. After a long-running investigation focusing on the use of rat poison in the Aras grounds, new procedures for rat-control precautions were put into operation.
Spat with EC over name of the State
FOREIGN Affairs minister Brian Lenihan (Snr) refused to accept an important legal document from the president of the European Commission because it misnamed Ireland.
The incident occurred in March 1981 when Gaston Thorn sent a legal document relating to the government's 'Buy Irish' campaign.
In his response, Mr Lenihan pointed out "Ireland is twice referred to as the 'Republic Of Ireland'. The name of the State is, of course, 'Ireland'." He said "this misnaming of the State" had occurred on at least three occasions previously, adding: "I look forward to receiving a suitably amended text."
Pressure not to hang four killers
THE Irish government came under intense pressure when four men were sentenced to death after being convicted of murdering gardai. The last execution was in 1954, but the death penalty was still on the statute books for certain offences -- including the murder of gardai.
In 1981, Peter Rogers was sentenced to be hanged after an explosives-linked incident in Co Wexford, while Peter Pringle, Colm O'Shea and Patrick McCann were convicted after a bank robbery in Co Roscommon.
All four sentences were later commuted to terms of life imprisonment and 14 years later Peter Pringle was cleared of his involvement in the garda killing.
Libya was major export market
MORE than 30 years before Colonel Muammar Gaddafi's rule came to its bloody end, Ireland enjoyed a healthy trade with Libya.
In 1981, according to official documents now released, Libya was this country's eighth-biggest export market -- with sales continuing to head upwards.
The busy trading led to visits to Libya by government ministers, including the future Taoiseach Albert Reynolds.