Paddy Ashdown and Northern Ireland


Sir, – Your obituary of the late Paddy Ashdown (January 5th) states that he once said that had he been an Ulster Catholic he would probably have joined the IRA or at least campaigned for civil rights.

One wonders if that is what the future Lord Ashdown thought while serving as a Royal Marines officer at the outbreak of the Troubles.

While researching the Oxford Dictionary of National Biography article on James Chichester-Clark, prime minister of Northern Ireland at the time the later Liberal Democratic leader served there, I found among his official correspondence a brief letter of unfeigned admiration from a young officer, Capt JJD (“Paddy”) Ashdown of the Royal Marines, who called himself a liberal unionist. – Yours, etc,