Northern Ireland news

State papers: NIO man impressed by ambassador sister of JFK

US ambassador Jean Kennedy-Smith delivering the eternal flame from JFK's grave with then-Taoiseach Enda Kenny in New Ross Co Wexford
Éamon Phoenix

IN an NIO briefing on new US ambassador to Dublin - Jean Kennedy-Smith - a senior official noted she had a winning "twinkle".

Peter Bell reported briefing the sister of assassinated US President John F Kennedy and appointee by President Clinton on Northern Ireland.

"I majored on the eradication of terrorism, depending on even-handed security force operations" and "on securing an overall accommodation in which the whole community would accept the institutions of government", thus "marginalising the terrorists".

"The ambassador had a lot of questions of her own", he said, some of which revealed "a fairly basic grasp of the problem".

She was concerned about Catholic recruitment to the RUC which Bell countered by emphasising "the PIRA disincentive scheme" and government's work to have a more representative police force. He also assured her that "there was no shoot to kill policy - except on the part of the terrorists - nor any systematic collusion between the police and loyalists". When she asked about the possible transfer of the `minority' into a majority, his response was "the demolition of over-simplified demographics and why a possible Catholic majority was by no means synonymous with a majority for a united Ireland".

"I did my best not to come across as a stuffy Brit and I quite warmed to Mrs Kennedy-Smith who laughed – I hope sincerely – at my jokes and has a pleasant twinkle in her eye".


Jean Kennedy-Smith

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