British state papers: Spring’s ‘distaste’ for Adams revealed

Labour leader also said he broke off talks with Fianna Fáil in 1994 because he could not trust them, new files reveal

Then Labour leader and tánaiste Dick Spring avoided the initial handshake with Gerry Adams on the steps of Government Buildings [on September 6th, 1994] because “it was not my scene”. Photograph: Joe St Leger

Then Labour leader and tánaiste Dick Spring avoided the initial handshake with Gerry Adams on the steps of Government Buildings [on September 6th, 1994] because “it was not my scene”. Photograph: Joe St Leger

 

Amid the political crisis in Dublin in 1994 which saw the collapse of the Fianna Fáil-Labour coalition, tánaiste Dick Spring told the British ambassador to Ireland why he had broken off negotiations with Fianna Fáil.

Confidential files reveal Spring told Ambassador David Blatherwick he stopped the negotiations “because, in the end, he could not trust them, but also because there were further time-bombs ticking away”.

Spring also expressed “distaste” over contacts with Sinn Féin following the IRA ceasefire in August.

The ambassador informed Northern Ireland Office officials: “He [Spring] said he avoided the initial handshake with Gerry Adams on the steps of Government Buildings [on September 6th, 1994] because “it was not my scene”, adding “with a grimace” that he had subsequently attended one meeting with Adams.

The ambassador felt the seating arrangements at a lunch he had attended that day might have owed something to this: “Adams, with Mary O’Rourke; [John]Bruton; Dr [John]Alderdice; [US ambassador] Jean Kennedy-Smith at one table; Spring, [Senator]Gordon Wilson and I at the adjacent one. Politesse or choice?’