“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”.