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John Hume and David Trimble with U2 frontman Bono celebrating the Good Friday Agreement

John Hume and David Trimble with U2 frontman Bono celebrating the Good Friday Agreement

John Hume waiting for the verdict of the referendum on the Good Friday Agreement, David Trimble, Tony Blair and John Hume at Dunadry in Co Antrim

John Hume waiting for the verdict of the referendum on the Good Friday Agreement, David Trimble, Tony Blair and John Hume at Dunadry in Co Antrim

Photopress Belfast

William Whitelaw

William Whitelaw

John Hume and David Trimble with U2 frontman Bono celebrating the Good Friday Agreement

On July 7, 1972, the leadership of the IRA met with the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, William Whitelaw, in a secret meeting in London to begin negotiations on a British withdrawal. At least that is how some of the IRA men saw it.

Sean MacStiofain is said to have been miffed that they were not offered a conference table to sit at. He saw himself as resuming the unfinished business in which Michael Collins had made the mistake of conceding the partition of Ireland.

Whitelaw thought the IRA men were absurd in their demands. He had just refused an Irish government demand that he set the goal of a united Ireland as the object of British policy and he was hardly going to concede more than that to a group of people who had no mandate from anyone.