“but 50 files remain closed..”

Of particular interest among the official documents released under the 30 year rule – now under review in the UK – are those discussing the 1977 strike by the United Unionist Action Council (UUAC), led by Rev Ian Paisley and supported by the UDA and Ulster Workers Council. As historian Eamon Phoenix writes here, those discussions include a minuted reference to the now First Minister, who it was noted “was associated with and had the support of the Protestant paramilitaries and it was queried whether he [Ian Paisley Snr] ought not to be held for conspiracy” [to?]. There doesn’t seem to be any new revelations about paramilitary activity at the time, or about the associations and activities of the now-Deputy First Minister.. And, as this BBC overview of the released papers tells us,

“Almost 400 confidential state papers from 30 years ago were released but 50 files remain closed. Among them are documents relating to the economic activities of paramilitary organisations”.

But, in a separate report on the year that was 1977, Eamon Phoenix notes some of the public statements made at the time by the Provisional IRA, and some of their activities

In a New Year statement, the IRA declared that they would “remove the British presence even if it meant reducing Belfast to rubble”. A bomb blitz in London was followed in February by a concerted IRA campaign against leading businessmen in Northern Ireland. On 2 February, the IRA shot dead Jeffrey Agate, the English-born head of the Du Pont Corporation in Londonderry and two more executives died in the following weeks. A statement from the paramilitary organisation declared that “those executed had played a prominent role in stabilising the British-orientated economy”.

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  • joeCanuck

    Any idea at all, Pete, how long retained files remain closed? Only answer if you know off the top of your head.

  • DC

    “those executed had played a prominent role in stabilising the British-orientated economy”

    To digress a little but inkeeping with hypocrisy, today was the first time I watched the Irish language motion tabled by McNarry on BBC Parliament, a very poor spectacle indeed with even worse page reading performances to boot.

    The motioned made light of the costs from a potential incoming language Act, main counter argument to it being cost and the thought of another commissioner, of whatever aim, is just unbearable.

    Anyway, going back to that 1977 Provo ‘Gold’ statment and linking it to issues of today, perhaps Sinn Fein could tell the people how they intend to create ‘Irish’ business in the North or put in place SF measures that saves such British membership monies, which they are averse to, so that Irish language can in turn use it.

    In doing so, SF could also mollify Unionists arguments of expense caused by language enforcement legislation from such an Act and would mitigate financial concerns over it. So Sinn Fein could at least bring in such a language based on the fact that the money to fund it has been created by political innovation of some form, wealth creation would be the perfect solution of course.

    As things stand it’s want, want, want; but it will remain an Irish language, argued over in English and built off a British economy, which from the above statement has been worthy of murder in the past. Although without it or in its stead nothing has been proposed in terms of feeding the populace even those keen Irish speakers.

  • Pete Baker

    Off the top of my head, Joe, until they cease to be regarded as sensitive..

  • The Raven

    What IS the “price” of this Irish Language act? What would be the comparators?

    Might the cost of an Irish Language act help towards staving off the fuel poverty discussed in the “A cold house this winter” ad above?

    Might it allow for a few extra beds in a hospital? Or shorten a waiting list? Or get someone that hip replacement they need?

    Could it pay for the extra money requested by class room assistants? Could it be put to better use in maintaining some of the crumbling schools in Northern Ireland?

    Could it be put to better use by upgrading much of the down-at-heel social housing in many parts of the region?

    When those local authorities start employing “Irish Language Officers”, might the money spent there be better put into closing landfills and going the extra mile on recycling?

    I’m not arguing for or against an Irish Language Act. I am, however, arguing that this administration really needs to get down to brass tacks in terms of a few priorities in 2008. And no more fannying around like the Assembly is some sort of damn cuddles club.

    And really, when you look at that off-the-top-of-the-head list, I think we should be in agreement that while it is laudable to have it, it’s not the most pressing issue in Northern Ireland.

  • joeCanuck

    You just can’t write it off, The Raven, by a simple comparison like “how many extra hospital beds”.
    I have to agree though that the Assembly doesn’t really seem to have a focussed “Program for Government” or whatever they call it. Or if they do, they are doing a pisspoor job of communicating it.

  • Mark McGregor

    Raven,

    Not having one hasn’t resulted in any of those things. You should be asking if any of the currently funded ‘cultural’ programmes are preventing those things if you are really that concerned.

    I’m of the opinion that government is not only about funding ‘necessities’ and arts, culture, sport etc. all play a part in civic health albeit rightly at a level beneath health and education.

  • Frank Card

    “those executed had played a prominent role in stabilising the British-orientated economy”.

    With the boys now sitting happily in power in Stormont, some of us, at least, are left to ask…How ironic is that ….

  • “Among them are documents relating to the economic activities of paramilitary organisations”

    I wonder what could be so sensitive about them …

  • Mark McGregor

    Unlike Pete I am not following the undisclosed docs on economic activities with a thought on the IRA. I’m thinking back to that association with Paisley and Loyalists gangs.

  • heck

    for those concerned about the cost of the Irish language effors can we not pay for it by eliminating the monarchy and assorted hangers on.

    Then we can have the irish language and the hospital beds and the teaching assistants and the social housing and have money left over.

  • Pete Baker

    Despite Mark’s implication, I did not assume that the reference to “documents relating to the economic activities of paramilitary organisations” related specifically to the Provisional IRA – or, indeed, solely to any one paramilitary organisation.

    We do, however, have the declared aims and chosen strategy of the Provisional IRA, in Londonderry, at that time to consider in any comparison between the associations and activities of current [para-]political figures then and now.

  • Mick Hall

    “for those concerned about the cost of the Irish language effors can we not pay for it by eliminating the monarchy and assorted hangers on.”

    Heck

    Good idea, but you will never get Martin and Gerry to vote for that. 😉

  • e s

    Why aren’t paisleys links with terrorism brought up more often?

  • I wonder if those extra 50 point our Dr. Paisley explicitly? In 50 more years we just may know.

  • Mark McGregor

    Pete,

    I’m not assuming anything just noting the flow of your blog, which is entirely understandable, and saying the undisclosed economic docs could be absolutely anything – that’s the problem when even historical transparency isn’t transparent we don’t get any truth when we only some. Though I’m not inclined to believe those controlling the information would be likely to protect unionism over ultra-nationalism.

  • Pete Baker

    Mark

    Once more..

    I did not claim that you had assumed anything.. rather that you had implied.

    As you have done again..

    “just noting the flow of your blog, which is entirely understandable..”

    So, once again –

    “I did not assume that the reference to “documents relating to the economic activities of paramilitary organisations” related specifically to the Provisional IRA – or, indeed, solely to any one paramilitary organisation.

    We do, however, have the declared aims and chosen strategy of the Provisional IRA, in Londonderry, at that time to consider in any comparison between the associations and activities of current [para-]political figures then and now.”

  • Mark McGregor

    Pete,

    That’s very clear. Cheers.

    You do agree that partial transparency is almost as good as none?

    I’m confused about why they revealed the theme, in a very general manner, of those documents they won’t disclose.

    Seems like a water muddying exercise, that I’ve fallen for on how I read your presentation of what we actually know (and how trustworthy is that?).

  • Pete Baker

    Not clear enough, apparently.

    Try not to mis-represent my post when you wish to argue your own position.

    Thanks.

  • Mark McGregor

    Hey, I’ll do exactly what you tell me in future.

    That’ll ensure I get exactly the narrative you require.

  • The Dubliner

    “I wonder what could be so sensitive about them …” – Nevin

    “…the IRA had set out to cause economic damage … – Gerry Adams”

    [i]”Gerry Adams was one of the main or the best political tactician that we had. I mean, he was one of the ones who actually thought up the economic bombings.”[/i]

    A cynic would assume that it it is embarrassing to the Deputy First Minister and his rehabilitated cohorts in PSF to have papers released which detail the damage done by them to the NI economy at a time when they are enjoying photo-ops in the White House, seeking to repair the economic damage that they are mostly responsible for creating.

  • The Dubliner
  • cynic

    “A cynic would assume that it it is embarrassing to the Deputy First Minister and his rehabilitated cohorts in PSF to have papers released which detail the damage done by them to the NI economy at a time when they are enjoying photo-ops in the White House, seeking to repair the economic damage that they are mostly responsible for creating. ”

    Dubliner, you asked for a Cynic’s assumptions so here goes:

    ….. could it be that the withheld papers are an assessment of the various activities that could be embarssing to many people including:

    * those in the republican movement (and loyalist groups) who made a good living off it while wrapping volunteers in flags and sending them to their deaths

    * those in the movement who did cosy little turf deals with the loyalsits to maximise income and avoid unnecesaary conflict by agreeing who could extort money where

    * those in the business community who did deals to pay off groups for safe passage through their araes / protection of their premises. Can’t have them exposed for funding the mayhem, dont you know!

  • Chuckle Vision

    Paisley associating with paramilitaries? No change there, then….

  • Twinbrook resident

    what I find amusing about Slugger now is the openly anti-nationalist/catholic agenda which some jumped up wannabbe celebrities in their own mind….try and follow.
    Remember T`internet warriors this isn`t the real world…real people aren`t stupid and won`t be led by the nose or by warped views of the past, present and future which have no foundations in fact…
    but then if only the croppies would lie down, eh Mr Pete!

  • The Serpent

    Holy God I thought I was cynical… Rather enjoyed reading some of the exchanges on here though !!!!!

  • smcgiff
  • lib2016

    Haven’t seen any reaction here to the revelation that people like Airey Neave and (presumably Margaret herself) were regarded by the Irish ambassador Keating as being ‘extremely disillusioned’ with the Ulster Unionists and ‘particularly adverse to deals with characters such as Enoch Powell’.

    Neave added “in negotiating with the Unionist Party at the moment one had no idea where power lay or with whom one was dealing” according to Keating as reported in today’s Irish Times so there’s no change there then.

    Given that Paisley was still an outsider at that time one would have thought that the British opinion of the representatives of Ulster Unionism was of particular interest but apparently not.

  • Aquifer

    “Among them are documents relating to the economic activities of paramilitary organisations”

    …. what could be so sensitive about them …

    that they were largely funded by fuel smuggling and extorting money from public sector building contracts?

    thirty years is a long time not to notice.

  • The Raven

    Mark McGregor wrote: “Not having one hasn’t resulted in any of those things. You should be asking if any of the currently funded ‘cultural’ programmes are preventing those things if you are really that concerned.”

    Notwithstanding your next paragraph, I just want to reiterate something I wrote:

    “I’m not arguing for or against an Irish Language Act. I am, however, arguing that this administration really needs to get down to brass tacks in terms of a few priorities in 2008.”

    Joe wrote: “You just can’t write it off, The Raven, by a simple comparison like “how many extra hospital beds”.”

    Actually, I can. But I didn’t. 🙂

  • British Patriot