Northern Ireland news

State papers: Hume-Mallon tensions reported by NIO

Tensions were reported between John Hume, pictured with his wife Pat, and Seamus Mallon in 1990
Éamon Phoenix

TENSIONS between the SDLP leader John Hume and his deputy Seamus Mallon were reported by NIO officials in 1990.

Differences between the two nationalist leaders emerged over a unionist demand for the suspension of the Anglo-Irish Secretariat during any major talks between parties.

In a memo dated June 20, 1990 for Secretary of State Peter Brooke, J E McConnell of the NIO claimed that Mr Mallon stated that the secretariat was "the core of the (Anglo-Irish) agreement" and must be protected. Unionists had reacted furiously.

Mr McConnell reported how (future SDLP leader) Mark Durkan had informed him "that Mallon's remarks had been deeply unhelpful, not least because they were forcing the unionists to respond in public, hence raising the temperature".

Mr Durkan, he reported, "said that Hume was furious with Mallon (repetition of what Hume told me on Sunday)".

In a separate conversation, Mr Mallon told the official "rather wryly that he now required protection from his own party rather than the media".

Meanwhile, in a conversation with an NIO official on December 13 1989, the Ulster Unionist MP Ken Maginnis was said to have described the hardline East Derry MP Willie Ross as "someone who could, if he were there, stop political progress in Eastern Europe".

Austin Currie left the SDLP to stand for election in the Republic for Fine Gael

State papers: Austin Currie's move to Fine Gael noted in files 

THE decision of SDLP founder member and former power-sharing minister Austin Currie to join Fine Gael and stand for election in the Republic is noted in official papers.

In a memo on political developments for Secretary of State Peter Brooke, dated June 8, 1989, J E McConnell of the political affairs division of the NIO noted that Mr Currie's move south had "caused shock in political circles", including in the SDLP leadership.

According to the official, Mr Currie was "reported as blaming unionist intransigence and the lack of prospects of devolved government for his departure".

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