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New Year Releases 2003 - Public Records of 1972



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PUBLIC RECORDS: 1972 1973 1974 1975

Page Compiled: Martin Melaugh
Material is added to this site on a regular basis - information on this page may change

New Year Releases 2003
Public Records of 1972

Northern Ireland

On 1 January 2003 the Public Record Office (PRO) in Kew released a number of government documents under the 'thirty year rule'. Some of these documents were related to events in Northern Ireland during 1972. To coincide with the release of these documents BBC Northern Ireland television broadcast a programme entitled 'Cabinet Confidential' which was shown on the evening of Wednesday 1 January 2003. The producers of the programme also compiled a web page based on the programme which included scans of some of the documents in question. (This web page was made available at the PRO web site {external_link}.)

The following page is based on those documents related to Northern Ireland which were scanned and included at the PRO site. The documents are listed in chronological order. Users can either view the documents at the PRO site or at the CAIN site - 'click' on the page numbers (two sets of links are given for each document).

Following the introduction of Internment on 9 August 1971 there had been a large increase in the level of violence in Northern Ireland. Violence continued to increase during 1972 and by the end of the year almost 500 people had died making 1972 the worst year of the conflict. 1972 also saw such events as: Bloody Sunday; the end of the Stormont government and the introduction of Direct Rule; Bloody Friday; and Operation Motorman.


PREM 15/1000 Monday 10 January 1972

Document reference: PREM 15/1000
Ref. A01005
Prime Minister

Note from Sir Burke Trend, then Cabinet Secretary, to Edward Heath, then Prime Minister, on matters related to:
Political Issues: Inter-Party Talks; the Security Situation; and Internment.

PREM 15/1000 at CAIN web site - Pages: | 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 |
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PREM 15/1000 at PRO web site [5 pages] {external_link}


PREM 15/1001 Sunday 30 January 1972 [Bloody Sunday]

Document reference: PREM 15/1001
Message No 3 of 30 January 1972
No 10 to Chequers
From Lord Bridges to Prime Minister

This document is one of a series of telegrams that were sent from 10 Downing Street to Chequers, where Edward Heath, then Prime Minister, was staying for the weekend. This telegram provides an early account of the number of people killed on 'Bloody Sunday'.

"Londonderry Riot
Latest confirmed reports received in Ministry of Defence are that about five people killed in Londonderry this afternoon and a further twelve in hospital. They are not able to confirm report carried by agencies that twelve were killed: this is based on a statement made by a spokesman for a Londonderry hospital, who said that the twelve had been brought in dead with gunshot wounds and all were in their early 20s."
PREM 15/1001 at CAIN web site - Page: | 1 |
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PREM 15/1001 at PRO web site [1 page] {external_link}


CAB 128/48 Thursday 3 February 1972

Document reference: CAB 128/48
Cabinet Minutes Confidential Annex
Thursday 3 February 1972 at 11.30am

The minutes noted that:
the British Army welcomed the announcement of an Inquiry into the events of 30 January 1972; that Lord Widgery wished to conduct the Inquiry on his own; that Brian Faulkner, then Northern Ireland Prime Minister, had been invited to a meeting in London; and that the Cabinet felt that international pressure would be put on the British government to begin a new political initiative in Northen Ireland.

PREM 15/1001 at CAIN web site - Pages: | 1 | 2 |
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PREM 15/1001 at PRO web site [2 pages] {external_link}


PREM 15/1004 Monday 13 March 1972

Document reference: PREM 15/1004
Prime Minister
PM/72/10

Letter from Sir Alec Douglas-Home, then Foreign Secretary, to Edward Heath, then Prime Minister. The letter sets out Douglas-Home's opposition to Direct Rule and a preference for a United Ireland:

"I really dislike Direct Rule for Northern Ireland because I do not believe that they [people living in Northern Ireland] are like the Scots or the Welsh and doubt if they ever will be. The real British interest would I think be served best by pushing them towards a United Ireland rather than tying them closer to the United Kingdom. Our own parliamentary history is one long story of trouble with the Irish".
PREM 15/1004 at CAIN web site - Pages: | 1 | 2 |
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PREM 15/1004 at PRO web site [2 pages] {external_link}


PREM 15/1004 Wednesday 15 March 1972

Document reference: PREM 15/1004
Record of a Telephone Conversation Between Mr. Faulkner and the Prime Minister at 4.15pm on Wednesday 15 March 1972

This document records a telephone conversation between Edward Heath, then British Prime Minister, and Brian Faulkner, then Northern Ireland Prime Minister, during which Heath invited Faulkner to a meeting in London on Wednesday 22 March 1972.

When Faulkner arrived on 22 March 1972 he was informed of the Cabinet's decision to take control of law and order in Northern Ireland. Faulkner and his colleagues rejected this and the Northern Ireland Cabinet resigned. Direct Rule from Westminster was then imposed.

PREM 15/1004 at CAIN web site - Pages: | 1 | 2 | 3 |
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PREM 15/1004 at PRO web site [3 pages] {external_link}


PREM 15/1007 Friday 14 April 1972

Document reference: PREM 15/1007
Northern Ireland: Current Situation Report No 118
14 April 1972

A note by A.W.Stephens, then Head of Defence Secretariat 10 at the Ministry of Defence, providing details of security incidents during the previous 24 hours in Northern Ireland.

PREM 15/1007 at CAIN web site - Pages: | 1 | 2 |
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PREM 15/1007 at PRO web site [2 pages] {external_link}


PREM 15/1009 Wednesday 21 June 1972

Document reference: PREM 15/1009
Top Secret
Note of a Meeting With Representatives of the Provisional IRA

On Tuesday 20 June 1972 there was a secret meeting between representatives of the Provisonal Irish Republican Army (PIRA) and officials from William Whitelaw's office (Whitelaw was then Secretary of State for Northern Ireland). The meeting took place at 3.00pm in a country house in Ballyarnet, close to the Derry / Donegal border. The PIRA representatives were David O'Connell and Gerry (Gerard) Adams. The officials acting on behalf of William Whitelaw were P.J. Woodfield and Frank Steele (who, at the time, was actually an MI6 Intelligence Officer).

"There is no doubt whatever that these two at least [O'Connell and Adams] genuinely want a cease fire and a permanent end to violence. Whatever pressures in Northern Ireland have brought them to this frame of mind there is also little doubt that now that the prospect of peace is there they have a strong personal incentive to try and get it. ... Their appearance and manner were respectable and respectful. ... Their behaviour and attitude appeared to bear no relation to the indiscriminate campaigns of bombing and shooting in which they have both been prominent leaders".
PREM 15/1009 at CAIN web site - Pages: | 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 |
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PREM 15/1009 at PRO web site [6 pages] {external_link}


PREM 15/1010 Saturday 22 July 1972

Document reference: PREM 15/1010
Redrawing the Border and Population Transfer

One of the possible political 'solutions' to the conflict to be considered at various stages was the redrawing of the border between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland. This document contains an outline contingency plan which envisaged that areas where there were Catholic majorities would be ceded to the Republic. The plan also envisaged that there would be forced movement of approximately one-third of the popultion across the new border.

PREM 15/1010 at CAIN web site - Pages: | 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7 | 8 |
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PREM 15/1010 at PRO web site [8 pages] {external_link}


PREM 15/1011 Wednesday 26 July 1972

Document reference: PREM 15/1011
Top Secret - Perimeter
Northern Ireland: Draft Rules of Engagement

Letter from Ronnie Custis at Ministry of Defence to Christopher Roberts in the Prime Minister's office about additional rules of engagement for British soldiers in Northern Ireland:

"Soldiers may fire without warning ... a company commander may order the firing of heavy weapons (such as Carl Gustav [rocket]) ..."
PREM 15/1011 at CAIN web site - Pages: | 1 | 2 |
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PREM 15/1011 at PRO web site [2 pages] {external_link}


PREM 15/1012 Friday 4 August 1972

Document reference: PREM 15/1012
Response to a Directive on Interrogation by the Security Forces

This is a note from R.T. Armstrong in the Prime Minister's office to T.C. Platt in the Northern Ireland Office. The note shows that Edward Heath, then Prime Minister, was highly sensitive to the issue of of interrogation of prisoners by the security forces.

The Parker Report had been published in March 1972. Two of the three judges who conducted an Inquiry into the "interrogation of persons suspected of terrorism" had concluded that the methods were illegal, but morally justifiable in the circumstances. The third judge considered them both illegal and immoral.

PREM 15/1012 at CAIN web site - Pages: | 1 |
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PREM 15/1012 at PRO web site [1 pages] {external_link}


PREM 15/1013 Friday 8 September 1972

Document reference: PREM 15/1013
Memo from the Cabinet Secretary to the Prime Minister

This memo covered:
the future of Northern Ireland; the Security Package; and changes in the administration of justice (most notably the introduction of special courts).

PREM 15/1013 at CAIN web site - Pages: | 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 |
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PREM 15/1013 at PRO web site [5 pages] {external_link}


PREM 15/1016 Wednesday 29 November 1972

Document reference: PREM 15/1016
Letter from R.A. Custis, Ministry of Defence, to the Prime Minister's office:

This document dealt with the issue of members of the Ulster Defence Regiment (UDR) who were also "associated" with the Loyalist paramilitary group the Ulster Defence Association (UDA).

" The policy in force at that time was established in July 1972 in the light of three major factors. First, the UDA is not an illegal organisation ... Secondly, an important function of the UDA is to channel into a constructive and disciplined direction Protestant energies which might otherwise become disruptive. Thirdly, ... an application to join the UDR would not be automatically rejected because of UDA membership, ..."
During 1972 the UDA was responsible for killing 71 people (Table 2; 'Lost Lives').

PREM 15/1016 at CAIN web site - Pages: | 1 | 2 | 3 |
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PREM 15/1016 at PRO web site [3 pages] {external_link}


See also:
Public Records
New Year Releases 2003 - Public Records of 1972
New Year Releases 2004 - Public Records of 1973
New Year Releases 2005 - Public Records of 1974
New Year Releases 2006 - Public Records of 1975

 


CAIN contains information and source material on the conflict and politics in Northern Ireland.
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