The private papers of a Derry businessman who acted as an intermediary between the British government and the IRA leadership have been unveiled in Galway.
The Brendan Duddy Archive - which is housed at NUI Galway - spans 20 years of the Northern Ireland conflict and includes key documents relating to the Derry man’s role in the peace process.
The documents - which were discussed this week at a symposium attended by a key British intelligence official and a former senior Irish diplomat - reveal that senior members of the republican movement in the early 1980s were given the codenames of Greek tycoons.
During efforts to resolve the 1981 hunger strikes, “Onassis” was the codename for Martin McGuinness and “Niarchos” for Gerry Adams.
The British government was known as “The Company” and the the Irish government as “The Americans.” The DUP was referred to as “P&O”, the SDLP as “Euroferries” and the Ulster Unionist Party as “Cunard”.
The selected documents include Brendan Duddy’s hand written records of negotiations during the hunger strike and a letter from the IRA to British Prime Minister Harold Wilson.
Speaking at Tuesday’s launch and on behalf of the Duddy family, Larry Duddy, said: “The family are delighted that the private papers have been donated to NUI Galway. They hope that analysis of these papers will assist current and future generations to understand however complex and how ever long a conflict has gone on, with the dedication and commitment shown by Brendan Duddy a resolution can always be found.”
The symposium, organised in association with the launch of Brendan Duddy’s private papers, brought together prominent figures from the worlds of academia and diplomacy.
Symposium speakers inlcuded Seán Ó hUiginn, a former senior Irish diplomat who was deeply involved in the Irish government contribution to the peace process, Michael Oatley, a key British official involved in back-channel communication with the republican leadership over many years and Professor Paul Arthur, former Professor of Politics at the University of Ulster.
Speaking at NUI Galway, Michael Oatley emphasised the need to understand and differentiate between the motivation for differing instances of political violence, and the importance of seeking to establish dialogue. He applauded Brendan Duddy’s work as an extraordinary example of what could be achieved by a brave and determined private individual.
The archive holds documents from the three main periods during which Brendan Duddy secretly acted as an intermediary between the British government and the IRA.
Dr Niall Ó Dochartaigh, Lecturer in Politics at NUI Galway explained: “These papers add significantly to our understanding of this crucial interface between the British state and the IRA. The papers show Brendan Duddy’s persistence and determination in pursuing the goal of a peace settlement and an end to the violence over a period of decades.”