Albert Reynolds’s public handshake with Gerry Adams angered Northern Office

Meeting designed to draw Gerry Adams personally into process

 Taoiseach Albert Reynolds shakes hands with Sinn Féin leader Gerry Adams and SDLP leader John Hume outside Government Buildings after a discussion of ways to advance the peace process following the IRA’s ceasefire announcement of August 31st, 1994. Photograph: Matt Kavanagh

Taoiseach Albert Reynolds shakes hands with Sinn Féin leader Gerry Adams and SDLP leader John Hume outside Government Buildings after a discussion of ways to advance the peace process following the IRA’s ceasefire announcement of August 31st, 1994. Photograph: Matt Kavanagh

 

Taoiseach Albert Reynolds’s famous public hand-clasp with the Sinn Féin president, Gerry Adams and the SDLP leader, John Hume at Government Buildings in Dublin in the wake of the 1994 IRA ceasefire irritated the Northern Ireland Office, according to previously confidential files released today in Belfast.

The gesture came on September 6th, 1994 a week after the announcement of the IRA ceasefire which owed much to secret talks between Hume and Adams from 1988.

In a memo on developments in the peace process, dated October 6th, 1994, Chris MacCabe of the NIO’s political affairs department informed his ministers and officials: “Albert Reynolds gratefully and unquestioningly accepted the PIRA ceasefire as permanent. His subsequent meeting with Gerry Adams and John Hume was widely believed to reflect indecent haste although clearly designed to tie Adams into a process from which he personally would not be able to escape, no matter what the Republican movement did . . . ”

MacCabe continued: “Irish irritation at [the British government’s] refusal to acknowledge the permanency of the IRA’s ceasefire also demonstrated itself by early calls for a relaxation of security policy in NI and hints that IRA prisoners might be released early.”