State papers: Top civil servant suggested ‘doing nothing' over loyalist violence
NORTHERN Ireland's top civil servant suggested "doing nothing" to tackle loyalist violence to teach unionists that it "does not pay", according to secret files just released under the 30-year rule.
Sir Kenneth Bloomfield, who went on to become the region's victims commissioner, told Irish officials during a confidential meeting in April 1986 that a "completely logical line of action" amid increasing unrest would be no action at all.
There was a ferocious unionist backlash at the time to the Anglo-Irish Agreement.
"The situation in the north is becoming more serious by the week," he said, according to notes of his meeting with senior Anglo-Irish negotiators at Government Buildings in Dublin.
"The petrol bombing and attacks on police houses are particularly worrying."
Sir Kenneth said senior politicians were "becoming more concerned daily".
He suggested: "One alternative would be to look to a long campaign of violence and attrition – doing nothing and bringing home to the unionists that this sort of action just does not pay.
"There may be arguments for this, which could be a completely logical line of action."
But he added: "On the other hand, there are arguments now for discussions, which could bring constitutional politics back into the picture again."
He went on to say: "There is much to be said for encouraging dialogues within Northern Ireland among the political parties."
Sir Kenneth was head of the Northern Ireland Civil Service at the time.