State papers: Bishop Daly congratulated Taoiseach on 1985 Agreement

Bishop Edward Daly.
Bishop Edward Daly.

Newly released Irish state papers have revealed that the Catholic Bishop of Derry at the time, Dr Edward Daly heartily approved of the signing of the Anglo-Irish Agreement.

The records show that Bishop Daly wrote to Garret Fitzgerald immediately after the sealing of the accord and described it as a “magnificent and historic achievement” and “our first real ray of hope for many years.”

However, the leading clergyman said he could not reveal his approval publicly because his endorsement could be interpreted “in the wrong way by the unionist community.

A voice of dissension did come from within the clergy hoewever with regard to the Agreement.

Fr Denis Faul, who had played a prominent role four years earlier during the H-Block hunger strike warned the Department of Foreign Affairs in Dublin that the agreement must be seen to deliever soon to retain the confidence of “ordinary people.”

He expressed the fear that working-class nationalists would view the agreement as something “engineered purely for the SDLP’s benefit.”

In February 1985, the Dublin Minister for Labour Ruairi Quinn claimed he detected a signal from future DUP leader, Peter Robinson that he could live with some “form of presence of the Irish government” in Northern Ireland.

Mr Quinn told the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, Douglas Hurd, that the DUP was a party with ambitions and unionists had not ruled out “Dublin involvement.”

Mr Hurd replied: “Well, the DUP have.....notwithstanding Peter Robinson’s grace notes.”