Robinson and Paisley said they ‘narrowly escaped with lives’ after court visit

DUP pair claimed they had ‘inadequate protection’ for 1986 hearing in Dundalk

DUP MPs Peter Robinson and Ian Paisley lodged a formal protest with the British foreign office over "the totally inadequate protection" afforded to them during a court appearance in Dundalk in 1986.

The pair claimed they had “narrowly escaped with their lives” during a court appearance in the town.

They travelled to the foreign office in London in August 1986 in connection with the arrest of Mr Robinson in Clontibret, Co Monaghan, earlier that month and his subsequent remand in custody, according to files released today by the Public Record Office in Belfast.

Mr Robinson had been charged after leading a loyalist incursion into the village in protest at the Anglo-Irish Agreement. The details are contained in a confidential report from the foreign office in London to the British ambassador in Dublin.

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The report says that on August 21st, 1986, Dr Paisley and Mr Robinson called to the Republic of Ireland division over the “Clontibret affair”. During their 45-minute meeting “Dr Paisley did most of the talking though Mr Robinson intervened on one or two occasions”.

‘Inadequate protection’

“Their message was that Mr Robinson had been treated badly when he appeared in court on August 8th and that Dr Paisley, Mr Robinson and their supporters had been given totally inadequate protection when the DUP MP appeared in court in Dundalk on August 14th,” the official said. They claimed that when Mr Robinson was remanded on bail on August 8th he was given to believe bail would be set at IR£5,000. “The court sitting was timed to take place after the banks had shut and the judge then raised the bail to IR£10,000. Dr Paisley claimed that this was a deliberate attempt to prevent Mr Robinson’s release from custody. He also pointed out that £10,000 sterling had been handed over and alleged that the Irish authorities had failed to keep their promise to repay the difference between the Sterling and Punt values.”

Noonan promise

Dr Paisley alleged that, despite a promise by the Irish minister for justice, the security provided when Mr Robinson appeared in the Dundalk court had been totally inadequate.

“The DUP leader claimed that £100,000 worth of damage had been done to cars belonging to Mr Robinson’s lawyer and supporters because of the Garda’s failure to protect them.”Mr Robinson “expressed grave concern about his safety should he appear in court again, as required, on October 2nd”.

The foreign office official undertook to relay Mr Robinson’s concerns to the Irish authorities and “to remind them of the need to provide suitable security for Mr Robinson’s next court appearance in the Republic”.

He was subsequently fined IR£17,500 for unlawful assembly.

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