State Papers

Jean Kennedy-Smith had a walk with Ken Maginnis in Dublin - and no one recognised her

Jean Kennedy Smith with Taoiseach Enda Kenny in New Ross Co Wexford. File picture
Éamon Phoenix

US ambassador Jean Kennedy-Smith had a walk with Ulster Unionist MP Ken Maginnis in Dublin's Phoenix Park - and well-wishers shook his hand but did not recognise her.

The US official was appointed to her post on St Patrick's Day in 1993 in a move which aroused unionist suspicions.

A sister of the late President John F Kennedy and Senator Ted Kennedy, declassified files reveal Secretary of State Sir Patrick Mayhew told the US ambassador to Britain that his government "were anxious that the character and frequency of her visits (to Northern Ireland) should not fuel unionist suspicions that their purpose was to confirm the territorial claim (by the Irish government)".

A newly-released note from the NIO revealed that Mr Maginnis met Ms Kennedy-Smith in October 1993 in a visit arranged by Presbyterian minister Rev John Dunlop.

The Ulster Unionist said the pair had taken a walk in Phoenix Park.

"This had been intended to maintain maximum confidentiality but, in the event, several people had approached them wanting to shake Mr Maginnis's hand; apparently no-one recognised Mrs Kennedy-Smith," the note read.

During the meeting, the ambassador had offered to arrange for Mr Maginnis to meet US Senators Christopher Dodd and Joe Biden (the future US Vice-President).

According to the note, Mr Maginnis accepted the offer.

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