Foundations of peace process


Sir, – Stephen Collins’s opinion piece (“Judging the performance of our political leaders”, Opinion & Analysis, August 22nd) regarding the late Albert Reynolds’s political legacy focuses on the latter’s contribution to laying “the foundations” of the peace process in Northern Ireland.

This point has been reiterated far and wide by the political class and media in recent days. Indeed, no one can argue that Reynolds did not take huge risks in his dealings with the British government, and in particular in his personal discussions with republican and loyalist terrorists. However, it is ahistorical to say that Reynolds laid the “foundations” for the early stage of the peace process – this honour belongs to the controversial Charles J Haughey. It was Haughey, while taoiseach in the late 1980s, who initiated secret discussions with Gerry Adams, using John Hume as a go between.

Haughey did not make these discussions public as he was afraid of reaction from within Fianna Fáil and the public at large. Nonetheless, the fact remains that is was Haughey not Reynolds who first took the tentative steps towards laying the foundations of the peace process in Northern Ireland. – Yours, etc,


Department of History

and Politics,

Liverpool Hope University,