State Papers

Ian Paisley Jnr 'wanted a devolved Stormont government which could negotiate with the Republic'

Ian Paisley Jnr, pictured with his late father, is mentioned in 1994 state papers
Dr Éamon Phoenix

IAN Paisley junior wanted a devolved Stormont government which could negotiate with the Republic, including possible changes to the border, declassified files claim.

In an NIO memo dated November 30 1993, senior official Peter Bell said he was surprised how open Northern Ireland politicians were with a US diplomat they did not know.

Mr Bell said Mr Paisley jnr, then a 27-year-old aide to his DUP leader father, told diplomat Larry Robinson that the DUP would be happy to re-enter peace talks at Stormont "provided that the Hume-Adams talks were ended" and the Irish government committed to a referendum on removing the articles of the constitution which made a territorial claim on the north.

Mr Bell noted Mr Paisley's hope that a "devolved government in Northern Ireland would have full powers to negotiate any agreement with the Republic including (I gather Mr Paisley swallowed at this point) border adjustments".

The official noted that Mr Paisley’s proposal would go beyond the 1973 Northern Ireland Constitution Act which "only gave the NI authorities such a free hand in regard to transferred matters".

He added that "all this was before Daddy (Ian Paisley snr) was evicted from the House of Commons" (for calling Secretary of State Sir Patrick Mayhew a liar following his admission of British contact with the IRA on November 29 1993).

The memo also claimed that Alliance Party leader John Alderdice "spent most of his time furiously slagging off (John) Hume whom he regarded as the single biggest obstacle to political progress in NI, not least because he had nothing to gain from a settlement".

Dr Alderdice claimed that being a deputy first minister in a devolved assembly was "nothing" to Mr Hume "hence, in part, his need of Sinn Féin".

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