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Bunker Days

Witness Seminar
Bunker Days is an important account of the Irish experience of the Anglo-Irish secretariat set up in Maryfield in Belfast in accordance with the terms of The Anglo-Irish Agreement of 1985. The initial section describes settling into the rudimentary accommodation supplied while Ulster Says No protesters raged at the gates. As the memoir progresses the substantial political work of the delegation is described in detail. This account constitutes an important source document for those interested in the state’s progress in ameliorating the effects of the Unionist hegemony that obtained over many decades in Northern Ireland and in promoting the principles of shared power and responsibility. Maryfield Secretariat Witness Seminar December 8th, 2015 Dublin Participants: Frances Killilea (FK), Mary Quealy (MQ), Caroline Bosshard-Bolger (CBB), Mary Shanahan (MS), Pat Scullion (PS), Daire Ó Criodáin (DOCN), Michael Lillis (ML), Daithi Ó Ceallaigh (DOCH), Jennifer Todd (JT), Joseph Ruane (JR) On November 15th, 1985, the taoiseach, Garret FitzGerald, signed the Anglo-Irish Agreement with Margaret Thatcher, giving the Irish government for the first time a significant role in the process of government of Northern Ireland. The two governments agreed that a secretariat would be established in Belfast comprising teams from both administrations to service the implementation of the agreement. On December 8th the Irish team arrived. The following witness session by the Irish side recalled their experiences under two headings: the initial period when they were confronting the practical problems of establishing the secretariat in Maryfield and the modalities and content of their engagement on policy issues with their British opposite numbers. The initial months in Maryfield were characterised by sustained violent protests against the agreement and the secretariat at the gates of the secretariat at the perimeter of Palace Barracks in Belfast. These scenes were relayed prominently on TV news broadcasts, to the distress of the families of the Irish team south of the border. On December 8th, 2015, the thirtieth anniversary of their arrival in Belfast, most of the surviving original members of the Dublin-based group were kindly received at Áras an Uachtaráin by His Excellency President Michael D Higgins. Later in the day they participated in this witness session organised by the Institute for British Irish Studies, University College Dublin, as part of the wider Breaking Patterns of Conflict project. Academics present included Jennifer Todd, Professor, Politics and International Relations, UCD, MRIA, Institute for British Irish Studies; Joseph Ruane, Visiting Professor, Sociology, UCD;…

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