State Papers

Cardinal Cahal Daly 'resented that Gerry Adams was seen as voice of nationalism'

Cardinal Cahal Daly met the NIO before the 1994 IRA ceasefire. Picture by Hugh Russell
Éamon Phoenix

CATHOLIC primate Cardinal Cahal Daly expressed concern that Sinn Féin leader Gerry Adams was seen as speaking for nationalists.

Declassified files reveal Cardinal Daly took part in confidential talks with the NIO before the 1994 IRA ceasefire.

During a meeting with NIO minister Michael Ancram, the Co Antrim-born cleric said he was "most vexed that Gerry Adams was seen by many as the voice of nationalism – this was very far from the truth".

Files described the cardinal as a "kindly man" who was a strong opponent of the IRA, referring to it as "alien to Irish traditions and Irish values".

During the meeting, the primate urged the British and Irish governments to stand together and said he "hoped that Sinn Féin would come into the political process although he acknowledged they would have difficulties with either a cessation or a continuation of their (armed) campaign".

The cardinal also said Ulster Unionist leader Jim Molyneaux should receive credit for keeping his party together in the face of "the tactics deployed by Dr Paisley".

Asked by Mr Ancram about his view on "parity of esteem", the cardinal said that "an internal settlement for NI would be unacceptable – the Irish dimension was all important... and was needed to acknowledge parity in the eyes of those who sought it".

The primate also pushed for a bill of rights with "a strong Irish dimension".

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