Towards the end of the debate on the Northern Ireland Constitution Bill in the House of Commons Enoch Powell produced a document which purported to prove the existence of clandestine agreements between the Northern Ireland Office and the Irish Government. The document showed, he said, that the Conservatives had reneged on the policy of integration with Britain on being told by civil servants of 'certain undertakings' made to the Irish Government about the future of the province. The affair casts a lurid light on the hysteria beneath the granite surface of Ulster Unionism. The document itself, which has the appearance of a transcript of an interview with an official, named as Clive Abbott, of the Northern Ireland Office, is less than convincing. Prior has told the House of Commons that Mr Abbott did not say what he is alleged to have said in the interview. When I discussed the matter with the research student named by the Northern Ireland Office as the interlocutor of the unfortunate Mr Abbott, he roundly denied all involvement. Mr Powell himself has reverted to vaguer, more familiar allegations of conspiracy and submission to blackmail.
LRB 5 August 1982 | PDF Download