Robinson ‘forceful, articulate, crafty’ while Hume likened to ‘Mother Teresa’

Sir Ken Bloomfield described the DUP leader in unusually glowing terms

SDLP members Seamus Mallon,  Joe Hendron, Eddie McGrady and  John Hume, the party leader, leaving the Department of Foreign Affairs in Dublin. Photograph: Jack McManus / The Irish Times

SDLP members Seamus Mallon, Joe Hendron, Eddie McGrady and John Hume, the party leader, leaving the Department of Foreign Affairs in Dublin. Photograph: Jack McManus / The Irish Times

Fri, Aug 29, 2014, 01:00

DUP leader and First Minister Peter Robinson and former SDLP leader John Hume feature in previously confidential files from 1985 released today by the Public Record Office of Northern Ireland.

The file concerns a multiparty conference at Airlie House in Virginia, USA, in January 1985 which was attended by the head of the Northern Ireland Civil Service, Sir Ken Bloomfield.

In his report to the British secretary of state, Douglas Hurd, Bloomfield described the DUP leader in unusually glowing terms: “Three days exposure to Peter Robinson amply demonstrated what a forceful, articulate and crafty politician he is.”

Bloomfield contrasted Robinson’s performance with that of the SDLP representatives at the conference and particularly the party leader, John Hume.

‘Mother Teresa’

“John Hume is normally in his element in the United States where he is widely regarded as occupying a position somewhere between Charles Stewart Parnell and Mother Teresa, ” he wrote.

“On this occasion he gave a chilling impression of political bankruptcy, rather like a man who has lost a fortune by backing a particular number consistently at the roulette table and continues to stare at that number even though he no longer has a stake to play.”