Peter Barry, left, then minister for foreign affairs, with Tom King, then Northern Ireland secretary, in Iveagh House, Dublin, 1986. Photograph: Tom Lawlor

Margaret Thatcher was complicated about Ireland. This was scarcely surprising. So many of her associations with Ireland had been negative: her falling(...)

Tough-minded negotiator: Peter Barry, left, then minister for foreign affairs, with Tom King, then Northern Ireland secretary, in Iveagh House, Dublin, 1986. Photograph: Tom Lawlor

Peter Barry, who died on Friday, aged 88, had a long career in politics but will be chiefly remembered for his contribution to the Anglo-Irish Agreeme(...)

Diarmaid Ferriter: “The wheel has turned over the decades in relation to Anglo-Irish relations and how joint involvement in the EU transformed perspectives.” Photographs: The Irish Times

During the week, the Merriman Summer School in Ennis was timely in examining the theme of “our gallant allies in Europe”. It offered a chance to refle(...)

The government authorised the minister for foreign affairs  to submit the harp and shamrock to the World Intellectual Property Organisation for registration as trademarks. Photograph: Frank Miller/The Irish Times

The registration of the harp and the shamrock as Irish emblems was delayed because of a row between departments over who should carry the costs. The(...)

“Mr Haughey was initially strongly critical of the Anglo-Irish Agreement”. Photograph: Matt Kavanagh/The Irish Times

The claim that former Taoiseach Charles Haughey “distrusted” his own Department of Foreign Affairs is highlighted in Northern Ireland Office files ju(...)

A vital glimpse into the past

The annual release of government archives under the 30-year rule has provided illuminating insights into the process that led to the historic signing (...)

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(...)

Garret FitzGerald shakes hands with  Margaret Thatcher during talks in November 1985. Photograph: Pat Langan

Margaret Thatcher’s cabinet secretary, Sir Robert Armstrong, confided to the Irish ambassador Noel Dorr that before the 1983 election, she had “very m(...)

Fianna Fáil leader Charles Haughey signs copies of the New Ireland Forum’s report in May 1984. Haughey initially opposed the subsequent Anglo-Irish Agreement. Photograph: Peter Thursfield

Every major political breakthrough requires significant imagination and courage. The Anglo-Irish Agreement was Margaret Thatcher’s Nixon to China mome(...)

 Margaret Thatcher, flanked by Sir Geoffrey Howe and Tom King, waving goodbye after the signing of the agreement. Photograph: Pat Langan

I have a vivid recollection of what it felt like that day as I watched the prime minister and the taoiseach put their signatures to an agreement betwe(...)