State Papers

Israeli ambassador claimed former DUP leader Paisley contacted him 'to obtain arms', declassified files reveal

THE Israeli ambassador to the UK claimed former DUP leader Ian Paisley contacted him "to obtain arms", declassified state papers released reveal.

The claim, which prompted surprise from the Irish government, is contained among hundreds of previously confidential files published in Dublin and Belfast today.

The documents, dating back to the late 1980s and early 1990s, also reveal that:

* The UVF told then Taoiseach Charlie Haughey that an MI5 officer had asked it to "execute" him

* Claims of an 'inner circle' within the RUC involved in collusion were raised at a meeting of Irish and British ministers

* The Irish government was told by Fr Denis Faul of rumours that Gerry Adams had 'set up' the IRA gang gunned down by the SAS in an ambush in Loughgall

The claim that Mr Paisley had asked the Israeli ambassador about arms is included in files released by the National Archives of Ireland.

In June 1985, Noel Dorr - Ireland's ambassador in London - wrote a letter to his boss in Dublin on the conversation he had at a recent function.

"I expressed surprise at this since I thought it unlikely that Paisley would leave himself open on something like this," Mr Dorr wrote.

The Israeli ambassador, Yahuda Avner, said Mr Paisley was talking about "border protection".

"I said I presumed that the emphasis was on surveillance equipment rather than on arms but the ambassador did not elaborate further on the detail of the request," Mr Dorr said.

"I would assume that what happened is that Paisley may have written to the ambassador to seek a meeting in regard to 'border protection'. The ambassador possibly interpreted this general phrase as referring to weapons rather than technology."

The ambassador told Mr Paisley that "these things" could only be dealt with between governments.

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State Papers