MEPs Paisley, Hume and Nicholson 'attended Balmoral Show on separate afternoons'
DUP leader Ian Paisley, SDLP leader John Hume and Ulster Unionist MEP Jim Nicholson were invited to the Balmoral Show every year but "never together", newly-released files show.
In a note to the Stormont Central Secretariat in March 1993, the head of the Department of Agriculture said the organisers of the show were reluctant to host politicians from the Republic because they did not want to "become a political football".
The official said the Royal Ulster Agricultural Society invited Mr Paisley, Mr Hume and Mr Nicholson, who were all MEPs, for afternoon tea every year.
But he said they were "never together" and attended the show on separate afternoons.
He said the society had good relations with their counterparts in the Republic but had "no wish to be accused of being a political football and, I think we do have to be careful about the sensitivities of local politicians of all parties".