Belfast Telegraph

Thursday 21 August 2014

Brendan Duddy archive gives new insight into secret IRA talks

Private papers which could shed light on secret talks between the IRA and British Government at the height of the Troubles have been made available to scholars.

The handwritten records of Brendan Duddy — who acted as an intermediary between the IRA and Westminster — released to the National University of Ireland in Galway have now been catalogued, with many available for academic research.

Some of the archive has never been seen before, and what these papers may reveal about the conflict could well prove explosive.

The documents, highlighting the secrecy and tensions involved in communication and negotiation between the two sides, were unveiled on Tuesday.

The Brendan Duddy Archive spans three decades of the Northern Ireland conflict.

It is understood the documents include a raft of sensitive files, including handwritten records of negotiations during key periods, along with a letter from the IRA to then-Prime Minister Harold Wilson. The files could highlight the details surrounding key political decisions during the height of the Troubles, including the hunger strikes and 1993 IRA ceasefire.

In 1980 and 1981 Duddy acted as intermediary during the hunger strikes and also began recording the telephone contact he made in a red hardbound notebook — referred to as the ‘Red Book’.

Known as ‘The Mountain Climber’, Mr Duddy also made handwritten notes of offer and counter-offer between the Government and the IRA in the attempts to end the hunger strike.

The files, which were originally deposited at NUI Galway in 2009, contain over 700 pieces and will be available to scholars and researchers from January next year.

President of the university, Dr Jim Browne, thanked Mr Duddy for his “steadfast conviction” through the conflict and his “commitment to peace” over many years.

“I would especially like to thank him, on behalf of NUI Galway, for making his archive available to scholarship, so that others might be inspired,” he said.

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