Northern Ireland news

Robin Eames's call for Patrick Mayhew to visit boycotted Protestant shops in Co Tyrone rejected

Anglican primate Robin Eames in 1986. Picture from Pacemaker
Éamon Phoenix

ANGLICAN primate Robin Eames' suggestion that the secretary of state should visit Protestant-owned shops in Co Tyrone which were being boycotted over the Drumcree parading dispute was rejected in 1997.

Lord Eames called Sir Patrick Mayhew’s private office on January 7, 1997.

The archbishop said it would be "advantageous" for Sir Patrick to visit shops which were being boycotted in Pomeroy.

However, after a senior official discussed the matter with NIO minister Sir John Wheeler and RUC Chief Constable Sir Ronnie Flanagan, it was decided that the visit would not serve any useful purpose.

"It would not stem the course of events for the Protestant-owned businesses involved and, indeed, a high profile visit might place them in an even more exposed position," the file read.

The official added that comparisons would be drawn with the fact that no ministers had appeared at Harryville in Ballymena where a Catholic church was being picketed by loyalists.

In addition, Sir Ronnie was worried that such a high level intervention might prejudice his efforts to deal with the question of parades in Pomeroy.

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