British diplomat identified as ‘passionate lover of Ireland’

The late Sir David Goodall was an ‘enthusiast for Irish and related causes’, official wrote

Sir David Goodall, who died in 2016, was a key architect of the Anglo-Irish Agreement. Photograph: Joanne O’Brien

Sir David Goodall, who died in 2016, was a key architect of the Anglo-Irish Agreement. Photograph: Joanne O’Brien

 

The late British diplomat Sir David Goodall features in a candid profile by a Northern Irish Office (NIO) official in this year’s files releases from Belfast for 1992.

Sir David, who died in 2016, was a key architect of the Anglo-Irish Agreement.

The profile takes the form of a briefing note for the NI secretary Patrick Mayhew who was due to meet with Sir David to discuss his chairmanship of a group called “Encounter”.

In his report of December 9th 1992, Peter Bell, a senior official,described Goodall as “a passionate lover of Ireland”. He went on: “If the Secretary of State does not know Sir David, it is worth remembering that beneath the suave demeanour of the retired diplomat beats the heart of a passionate enthusiast for Irish and related causes. When DUS [Deputy Under-Secretary] in the Foreign and Colonial Office (with responsibility for Irish affairs), his wallboard contained two maps of equal size of Ireland and the whole world which, some thought, substantially overstated his relative interest in the latter.”

Bell went on: “As a member of the Cabinet Office, he was, along with Lord [Robert] Armstrong, one of the driving forces behind the Anglo-Irish Agreement. He is both an amateur Irish historian and genealogist and a theologian of repute”.

He advised Mayhew to explore Sir David’s assessment of current Irish government thinking and, in particular, “what he believes would enable an Irish government ... to feel politically safe in proposing a change to the Constitution”.