Belfast Telegraph

SDLP man's attack on 'sly and devious' Needham

State papers

By Ed Carty

One of the longest serving British ministers in Northern Ireland was branded sly, devious and unionist-minded.

State papers from 1985 reveal the late Eddie McGrady took the swipe against Sir Richard Needham in a confidential briefing with Irish diplomats. The incident took place a week before the signing of the Anglo Irish Agreement at Hillsborough.

According to the Department of Foreign Affairs' documents, the SDLP chief whip launched a savage attack after the British minister compared unionist councils with Sinn Fein councils.

"McGrady was appalled by Needham, whom he found sly, devious and unionist-minded," diplomat Daithi O'Ceallaigh reported to ministers.

"McGrady was also very critical of (former UK secretary of state for Northern Ireland Tom) King and said he was very much a unionist by comparison with his predecessor (Douglas) Hurd."

Sir Richard served as under-secretary of state for Northern Ireland between 1985 and 1992, but his relations with nationalists got off to a bad start when he ignored a tradition of meeting Mr McGrady on his appointment.

Belfast Telegraph


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