US Congressman Joe Kennedy on a visit to Northern Ireland in April 1988. Photograph: Pacemaker

The controversial visit of United States congressman Joe Kennedy to Northern Ireland in 1988 is detailed in previously confidential files released tod(...)

Former Minister for Justice Gerry Collins and former Minister for Foreign Affairs Brian Lenihan at the opening of the Fianna Fail Ard-Fheis in the RDS, Dublin in 1984. Photograph: Tom Lawlor/The Irish Times

In recently released State Papers former Minister for Foreign Affairs Brian Lenihan described the period after the 1987 Poppy Day bombing in Enniskill(...)

The tánaiste in 1985, Dick Spring: “Let us be very clear – we will co-operate but we will not accept inferences that we are not doing enough.” Photograph: Tom Lawlor/The Irish Times

Then tánaiste Dick Spring insisted Ireland would not accept the State was not doing enough to ensure security around the Border during a meeting with(...)

Lord Robert Armstrong, cabinet secretary under Mrs Thatcher and one of  key negotiators of the  agreement,  at an event marking the agreement’s 30th anniversary in  Trinity College Dublin last November. Photograph: Eric Luke

During the framing of the historic Anglo-Irish Agreement of November 1985, Garret FitzGerald took the opportunity of a joint meeting in Lisbon to comp(...)

Former SDLP leader  John Hume: provided  colourful description of the Ulster Defence Regiment. Photograph: Matt Kavanagh/The Irish Times

The INLA was described as a “bunch of lunatics” by Catholic priests Denis Faul and Raymond Murray during the organisation’s 1985 hunger strikes. A (...)

Garret FitzGerald and Margaret Thatcher sign the Anglo-Irish Agreement in 1985. Photograph: Matt Kavanagh

The then British prime minister Margaret Thatcher asked what the reaction would be if the British bombed Dundalk in pursuit of IRA terrorists when she(...)

 Rev Ian Paisley (centre) and Peter Robinson (second from left)  in  the  early 1980s. Photograph: Pacemaker

The “steam has run out” of then DUP leader Ian Paisley in 1985, but his deputy, Peter Robinson remained a “dangerous man”, according to then minister (...)

 Seán MacBride in 1987:   associated with movement for fair employment. Photograph: Paddy Whelan

British concern at the growing success of the Irish-American campaign to persuade US state legislatures to adopt the MacBride Principles on fair emp(...)

 Harland and Wolff  workers return to the Belfast shipyard in November 1999 after a  mass walkout during a dispute with management over a multimillion-pound contract. Photograph:  Steven Davison/Pacemaker

This year’s declassified Belfast files chart the final decline of former shipbuilding giant Harland and Wolff. They show that in 1987, faced by mounti(...)

RUC chief constable Sir John Hermon: said  ‘little or no’ intelligence  provided by Garda. Photograph: Pacemaker

The RUC was dissatisfied at the level of co-operation from the Garda Síochána during Charles Haughey’s minority administration, previously confidentia(...)