Richard Ryan

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From left; Minister for Children and Youth Affairs Katherine Zappone, Taoiseach Leo Varadkar and  Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs Simon Coveney,   react as it was confirmed that Ireland had secured a seat on the  United Nations Security Council. Photograph: Julien Behal Photography

Why is winning a seat on the United Nations Security Council a big deal? The 15-member UN Security Council is the most powerful body in the UN system(...)

Northern secretary James Prior and minister for justice Michael Noonan at Iveagh House, Dublin, in 1984. Photograph: Peter Thursfield

Presumably the Anglo-Irish desk at the Department of Foreign Affairs was a clearing house for gossip, insights and even some kites, leaks and scoops t(...)

British prime minister Margaret Thatcher and taoiseach Charles Haughey on the steps of 10 Downing Street, London, in May 1980. Photograph: Keystone/Getty Images

Margaret Thatcher felt “quite natural” with Charlie Haughey and there was “a lot to be played for between them”, a senior Conservative adviser told an(...)

British prime minister Margaret Thatcher with taoiseach Charles Haughey on the steps of 10 Downing Street, London, in May 1980. Photograph: Keystone/Getty Images

It was not a high-profile year in Anglo-Irish relations. Everything seemed becalmed in 1989. Yet Charles Haughey was constantly being asked questions (...)

The Birmingham Six with MP Chris Mullin (centre) outside the Old Bailey in London following their release: (from left) John Walker, Paddy Hill, Hugh Callaghan, Richard McIIkenny, Gerry Hunter and William Power. Behind them is Paul Hill of the Guildford Four. Photograph Joe St Leger.

The British government was reluctant to release the Birmingham Six because of pressure from Tory hardliners and concerns it would cause a “scandal” in(...)

‘Eksund’ captain Adrian Hopkins, claimed after his arrest that the arms on board the vessel “were actually loaded in Libya”.

An Irish diplomat who went to Tripoli in the wake of the discovery of a huge arsenal of Libyan arms destined for the IRA was met with claims that Irel(...)

Patrick Mayhew. Photograph: Frank Miller

Among the most controversial politicians of 1988 was then British attorney general Patrick Mayhew. On January 20th that year, Irish diplomat Richard R(...)

British prime minister Margaret Thatcher and taoiseach Charles Haughey: “How Margaret  and the others do not see through him is beyond me,” Tory MP Ivor Stanbrook is reported as saying. Photograph: Colman Doyle

Charles Haughey was a “dreadful person” who “seized every opportunity to get under the Border”, an influential Tory backbencher fumed at an Irish dipl(...)

Conservative MP Ian Gow, who was killed in an IRA car bomb in 1990. Photograph: PA

Northern Ireland was at its “greatest moment of peril” because its political leaders were no match for the Dublin government, a close personal friend (...)

Margaret Thatcher published her memoirs in 1993, whereas Haughey (pictured with the former British prime minister in May 1980) never wrote his. Photograph: Keystone/Getty Images

That the official records from the Department of the Taoiseach and of Foreign Affairs for 1988 are becoming available only now after 30 years leaves t(...)

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