Belfast Telegraph

Hume-Adams talks 'threatened peace process'

State papers

By Adrian Rutherford

Unionist anger over the Hume-Adams talks threatened to wreck the peace process in the 1980s, officials feared.

Between January and August 1988, SDLP leader John Hume held a series of private discussions with Gerry Adams.

Mr Hume believed that dialogue with the Sinn Fein president could draw the IRA towards putting down its weapons, creating an opportunity for talks and a peace process.

However, unionists warned the talks threatened to "completely sabotage" moves towards peace. In a memo dated January 12, 1988, JE McConnell from the Political Affairs Division reported a conversation with an unnamed "leading unionist".

"In his view the main consequence is likely to be that it will provide the two unionist leaders with an extra card to play in their dealings with the Government over the talks about talks and any developments flowing from those discussions," it read.

"The course chosen by the unionist parties will depend on how matters progress within their group, but the Hume/Adams meeting could provide an ideal excuse for the leaders to withdraw on the grounds that Hume is not interested in having anything to do with unionists.

"In effect, it would be just the sort of issue that could completely sabotage the whole process."

In 1993 the Hume-Adams talks became public knowledge after a Sunday newspaper ran a story.

In a statement, they said the initiative was "aimed at the creation of a peace process".

Belfast Telegraph


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