RUC tipped off gardaí over Peter Robinson’s 1986 incursion

DUP MP was among 150 loyalists who crossed border into Clontibret

The RUC tipped off gardaí about the loyalist incursion into Clontibret, Co Monaghan, in 1986, according to declassified files released today.

A report in the files by JE McConnell of the Northern Ireland Office's political affairs division refers to the "Clontibret affair". It said in the early hours of August 7th, 1986 a crowd of about 150 loyalists, "some wearing paramilitary uniforms and carrying cudgels", accompanied by Peter Robinson, crossed the border near Keady and invaded Clontibret.

The report noted the crowd dispersed when gardaí fired shots into the air.

"Robinson, who appears to have lingered behind deliberately, was arrested and held in custody for 32 hours (during which he refused all sustenance provided by the gardaí, preferring the wholesome Ulster food brought to him by his wife) before being charged", according tothe report.


The files also contain a report from Northern Ireland Office official Mark Elliott to the British ambassador in Dublin dated August 15th, 1986.

He said the RUC had warned the Garda of the impending events in Clontibret.

‘Warmly appreciated’

“The RUC’s action in tipping off the gardaí during the night of August 6th and 7th about the incursion by Peter Robinson and his Loyalist thugs was also warmly appreciated in Dublin, according to

Michael Lillis

[of the Irish Department of Foreign Affairs],” he wrote.

The British aim through the Anglo-Irish Agreement, he told the ambassador, was to achieve some identifiable progress in the field of cross-Border security and “perhaps more crucially . . . striking at the Provisional IRA’s base in the South”.

He added: “Peter Robinson’s exploits in Clontibret were, after all, designed to focus attention on this aspect of the Agreement”.

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