Provos used Hume to acquire veneer of respectability
Republicans "used John Hume like you'd play a 3lb trout", said former First Minister Seamus Mallon in a BBC radio interview last week. "And he gave them the thing that they were looking for - that was, a respectable image in the United States." And so he did, for Hume consistently underestimated them.
Newly released Irish State papers record Hume in 1985 telling Sean Donlon of the Department of Foreign Affairs that he wanted talks with the IRA army council.
Donlon believed that the Provos had peaked and had run into "obvious military difficulties". Hume, he told Taoiseach Garrett FitzGerald, "seems to feel that he could significantly damage them in a confrontation".