A loyalist leader heaped praise on Charles Haughey for his stand against the Provisional IRA, newly-declassified documents have revealed.
UDA chief Andy Tyrie personally wrote to the Taoiseach in December 1980 to thank him for his efforts in saving the lives of “countless Ulstermen and women”.
Mr Tyrie's letter, held in Irish state papers from 1980, said Mr Haughey's efforts to prevent arms smuggling across the border helped ensure loyalist paramilitaries would not target the Republic.
“I am sure you realise that by seeking out and preventing the incessant flow of weapons and explosives into Ulster, you are effectively ensuring that loyalist organisations will not seek vengeance in the Republic,” the UDA chief wrote.
“I have admired your determination and I note that your period in office is underlined by your attitude towards terrorism, and its defeat.”
The loyalist told Mr Haughey he felt he had taken a more proactive role than any other Taoiseach to thwart paramilitary activity.
“Yours is a difficult job, and there are times when you feel that you stand alone, but you possess the strength of character typical of Ulster stock,” he wrote. Mr Haughey's parents, Sarah and Sean, were from Swatragh, Co Derry.
Other declassified documents have also revealed that an influential priest accused the Irish ambassador to the US of trying to thwart attempts to raise the case of the Birmingham Six.
Fr Denis Faul wrote to Ambassador Sean Donlon, and copied it to Foreign Affairs Minister Brian Lenihan, claiming he was interfering in efforts to highlight the miscarriage of justice.
In a letter dated November 25, 1979, and released for the first time, the priest alleges Mr Donlon tried to stop a Congressman raising the case.
Fr Faul said it had been intimated that the ambassador tried to thwart Congressman Hamilton Fish Junior from pursuing interest in the Birmingham Six.
“The allegation that you were working against us in this matter and trying to thwart our efforts to obtain justice has caused us deep distress,” he wrote.
Fr Faul accused the envoy of the “attempted denigration” of Fr Murray and alleged he had quoted the Grand Master of the Orange Order Martyn Smyth and former SDLP leader Gerry Fitt.
In a cover letter to Mr Lenihan, Fr Faul said he hoped the ambassador “will cease thwarting our efforts in the cause of justice and peace in the north of Ireland”.
But Mr Lenihan hit back, insisting he had full confidence in Mr Donlon.