Tony Blair was Sinn Fein’s ‘secret channel’ to the DUP…

Malachi O’Doherty was in south west Scotland (the First Minister was speaking there) last week, for their equivalent of the Hay on Wye book festival. He picked up some interesting detail (but which may or may not now just be historical historical detail). It relates to a period in the process when Gerry Adams was negotiating terms on which he might call an Ard Fheis on policing. During those negotiations, Adams said that he had not been talking directly to Ian Paisley but that he had a mediator (as we noted at the time: “without revealing who, when, or for how long”).Intriguingly Malachi reports:

Paisley told a story about how Tony Blair had phoned him up seven times during new year’s Day 2007 to try to get him to agree to a form of words that would enable Sinn Fein to commit to policing. Read his speech in this light and you realise that Blair was the mediator and that he was trying to secure for Adams a weaker commitment to policing than Paisley was demanding.

As if to emphasise Blair’s lack of success on behalf of Sinn Fein, here’s Robinson’s statement on the very next working day:

…as there is now no prospect in the foreseeable future of establishing the trust essential to re-activate executive devolution in either a mandatory or voluntary form, local politicians must calculate whether they mark time hoping that somewhere in the distant future we will find the circumstances needed to propel us to that level of belief and conviction in which executive devolution can survive and flourish or whether we should attempt to get devolution off the ground by establishing a non-executive form of devolution within which local decisions can be taken while we test the paramilitary and criminal activity of republicans, curtail the excesses of the Labour government and start building the political confidence from the ground up.

Malachi concludes:

The policy was: Give a thug a break.

It is the same policy that Shaun Woodward SOS is exercising today as he celebrates the great progress made by the UDA towards decommissioning, leaving Margaret Ritchie stranded now if she sitcks to her (demand for) guns.

Meanwhile, it would seem that some of the questions being asked by the DUP back then have still to be answered.

  • snakebrain

    Like schoolkids in the playground; “Tony, Tell Ian I’m not talking to him.”

    I despair…

  • bootman

    Except snakebrain that republicans were always willing to talk directly……..

  • Nevin

    “Blair Paisley and Gerry worked out an agreed text to be dropped into Paisley’s New Year message. Surprise surprise just like Nov Paisley forgot the important pre-agreed bit.” … Slugger O’Toole, Jan 4, 2007

  • snakebrain

    Except snakebrain that republicans were always willing to talk directly……..
    Posted by bootman on Oct 08, 2007 @ 04:41 PM

    Except Boorman when they were too busy fighting a “war”, and people like Jean McConville were disappeared for talking directly…

  • pfhl


    I didn’t know Jean McConville played any part in direct negotiations. It is a death that has no relevance in your arguement. The IRA has a history of dealing directly with the british, everybody knows about gerry’s secret trips years ago.

  • Lorraine

    snakebrain: poor point and a total corruption of the truth. true republicans were busy fighting a war; but never to busy to talk and pursue a jaw-jaw approach rather than the pain of war-war. that is absolutely indisputable.

  • snakebrain

    My point was merely that you can’t say that about the “republican” movement. Maybe the leadership were all talking to (and spying for in plenty of cases) London, but they still ran a campaign of murder and terror that was fascist in its intolerance of deviation from the overarching strategy, total non-co-operation and non-communication at “street level” was a fundamental part of that strategy. Jean McConville was murdered for talking to the British. How do you defend that?

    Even your mention of “true” republicans betrays the fascist tone that permeates the republican movement to this day.

    I detest the IRA, and SF, and will never apologise for that. They owe this country an apology for their part in our history.

  • Turgon

    “true republicans were busy fighting a war; but never to busy to talk and pursue a jaw-jaw approach rather than the pain of war-war. that is absolutely indisputable. ”

    Well that is one way to look at it. They did not seem too interested in jaw-jaw with Mrs. McConville did they? This war of theirs: the war that involved running into churches with assault rifles, the war which involved blowing up people standing beside the Enniskillen cenotaph, stopping a bus with workers on it and killing them, shooting a man in his shop. Clearly an indisputable war Lorraine how could I have missed that?

    On a different note entirely it is interesting that Blair was clearly negotiating on Adams’s behalf. Since it seems Paisley knew that Blair was helping Adams on this and Paisley knew that Blair had only a few months in office his claims that if he had not accepted the deal something much worse was going to happen ring a little untrue.

    Clearly Brown was the most likely sucessor and he (or indeed anyone else) would have been unlikely to be as helpful to SF. Hence, the new PM would have been unlikely to push through joint authority and might well have been a lot more even handed in future negotiations. This just makes me more convinced than ever that the threat of joint authority was bluff and Paisley knew it but went for the deal because he wanted power for himself.

  • pfhl


    Jean McConville was shot according to the republican movement because it claims she was an informer. This is different from simply talking to somebody republicans would say is a brit. I don’t know if she was and i am not supporting this killing however i want to point out your arguement still fails.

  • snakebrain

    Say what you like, if you think that my argument fails because Jean McConville was an informer, then you’re an apologist for muurder.

  • pfhl


    You miss my point, i give up. too much work getting you to understand. Did you miss the words, ‘ I don’t know if she was.’ Maybe you are just slow, i will leave you to think about it. One last point she was not shot for simply talikng to the british troops or whoever she talked to. There are many who talked to the british that were not shot, maybe im wrong but was any member of the SDLP shot during the troubles. They talked directly to britian. You also skip the early face to face meetings between senior republicans and members of the british goverment. I am simply pointing out republicans were williong to talk face to face hence making your original response to this thread wrong. Do you understand? This only refers to your response not the other 30 years. Do you now understand why you were wrong?

  • snakebrain

    I’m fully aware of your argument, but I think it’s a fallacy to say that the IRA were always willing to talk. They should never have done anything but talk.

  • Turgon

    Okay more simple questions. Was it right to shoot Jean McConville? Would it have been right if she had been an informer? Those are pretty simple questions. I know my and I can pretty easily guess snakebrains answers to those questions, what is yours?

  • Bootman-

    “Except snakebrain that republicans were always willing to talk directly…….. “

    Oh, plenty of them did alright…

  • Dawkins


    “It is the same policy that Shaun Woodward SOS is exercising today as he celebrates the great progress made by the UDA towards decommissioning…”

    Is this irony? Or are the guns about to be decommissioned? How many, where and when? After ten years in the planning, I should think the UDA must be pretty definite on those details.

    Does Shaun have them to hand? Margaret certainly does not.

  • parci

    snakebrain when the IRA talked who listened?

  • snakebrain

    Aww poor darlings, everybody ignored them…

  • parci

    snakebrain you insisted “They should never have done anything but talk.” and then added “Aww poor darlings, everybody ignored them”
    you haven’t got a clue have you?

  • snakebrain

    Do you not know irony when you hear it? [keep it civil – edited moderator]

  • conor

    [play the ball – edited moderator] How was that irony? Explain, Im all ears….

  • snakebrain

    Buy a dictionary

  • Dawkins


    “[play the ball – edited moderator] How was that irony?”

    Thanks for editing that! If I see “truly” spelt with an “e” just one more time I won’t be responsible for my words and actions 🙁

  • snakebrain

    What a refined disposition you have, Mr Dawkins.

  • Dawkins

    *simper* Why, thank you, kind sir!

    One feels that, surrounded as one is by uncouthness and a general lack of decorum, one should try to set a good example :0)

    Did you like my Gerry Guevara BTW?

  • snakebrain

    Now I feel ashamed of my short-tempered outburst. That’s the second time in a week Pete’s had to slap my wrist too; I must try harder. Though the other time was with Sam Hanna, and, god knows, he’s trying enough..

  • Nevin

    Freedom of speech V freedom not to listen <:0)

  • Granni Trixie

    For the record, Mrs McConvilles family claim that she was not an informer and that is good enough for me. I was disappointed when Ed Moloney’s book was reprinted that he did not alter this lie.

    I have heard people of a Unionist persuasion similarly make claims (which I wont repeat),about Mr Finucan,implying that this makes their murder less morally wrong.

    De facto evidence that political stories such as malachis brings us yet again to ‘the blame game’, show that feelings around injustice are not easily going to go away

  • Hogan from County Tyrone


    “snakebrain when the IRA talked who listened?”

    What exact words of wisdom were they contributing to the debate?

    Is it the insightful pearls of “victory 71, victory 72..73… i could go on (God knows they did!)

  • Ellesmere Dragge

    What’s wrong with the main point of the story: that the PM of UK&NI either

    (a) was prepared to act as a messenger boy between two overweening factionalists? Which shows how much of bit players all three are.

    (b) worked his socks off for the good of all? Which goes a long way to gloss his reputation.

    Take your pick of interpretation. Don’t waste time, fingering or the last brain cell on mutual vituperation.