Sunday 22 April 2018

In brief: Casing out Casement

THE negative associations of holding a summit at Casement aerodrome -- named after the British diplomat turned Irish nationalist -- were weighed up against the security benefits by senior levels of the British government in the run-up to a meeting between Garret FitzGerald and Margaret Thatcher in 1984.

"The prime minister should be aware that the airport is named after Sir Roger Casement. But the disadvantage of that would be out-weighed by the security advantages," wrote British civil servant Robert Armstrong.

UK 'DOMESTIC' POLICY

SHE may have been known as the Iron Lady but Margaret Thatcher's domestic skills also came into play when dealing with matters of state.

Papers show these domestic skills also helped when trying to arrange not just the Anglo-Irish talks of 1984 in Chequers but where all of the participants would be sleeping.

'SHOOT TO KILL' ROW

CO-OPERATION between gardai and the RUC became increasingly difficult, especially at higher ranks, during the peak of the Troubles as many Irish officers believed their counterparts were operating a 'Shoot to Kill' policy and were resented by the Catholic community.

"Some of them were reluctant to co-operate with a force which appeared to have a shoot to kill policy and was resented by the Catholic minority," Northern Ireland secretary Douglas Hurd wrote in a memo.

'QUIET LIFE' IN MAZE

SOME prison officers working in the Maze during the height of the Troubles were so fearful of attack that they ignored the rules being broken in favour of a "quiet life".

Britain's Northern Ireland secretary James Prior told Margaret Thatcher in a April 1984 memo that this "slackness" in the rules had resulted in an escape from the prison the previous year.

NO COLLUSION -- RUC

THE RUC denied it was involved in collusion with gardai over the arrest of a suspect in what was to become one of the most infamous cases of alleged political interference in the 1980s.

A letter from RUC's chief constable to then Taoiseach Garret FitzGerald detailed how they had arrested James McGovern -- the man at the centre of the Dowra affair, which had also involved the brother-in-law of the then Justice Minister -- based on their own evidence and not, as was widely suspected, due to fake garda intelligence.

Irish Independent

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