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Devolution and Rev Ian Paisley mentioned in declassified CIA files

Ian Paisley at an Ulster Resistance Rally in Ballymena in 1986. The former DUP leader's name was mentioned in newly-declassified CIA files. Picture from Pacemaker

US intelligence agency the CIA has put hundreds of thousands of declassified records online - including some about the north.

The documents, previously only available to the public at the CIA's National Archives in Maryland, cover several decades and include files on the Cold War, the Vietnam War and the Korean War as well as global military and economic issues.

Including weekly reports on international terrorism, press cuttings and briefings, the files include a note dated April 1973 which said the Republic's government had "made an informal protest to Libya over Tripoli's involvement in an abortive attempt to smuggle weapons to the IRA".

They also outline details of a meeting between US senator Daniel Moynihan and then Secretary of State James Prior in January 1982.

Mr Prior explained plans for devolution and told Mr Moynihan that if the "devolution process gets off the ground and is seen to be working, the DUP and other potential holdouts may feel compelled to participate".

The Secretary of State also said the British government would "have preferred it if (Ian) Paisley had been able to make his proposed visit to the US".

Mr Paisley's US visa for a two-week speaking tour had been revoked in December 1981, citing his "divisive rhetoric".

The briefing note said Mr Prior indicated "blocking Paisley's travel feeds Protestant fears of a conspiracy to force them into union with the Irish Republic".

Mr Moynihan was one of a group of US politicians known as the 'Four Horsemen' who aimed to find a solution to violence in the north.

The collection of documents can be viewed at www.cia.gov/library/readingroom/collection/crest-25-year-program-archive

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