A protestant paramilitary group wrote to former Irish Prime Minister Charles Haughey to warn him that MI5 had asked them to assassinate him, according to newly disclosed documents.
The Ulster Volunteer Force - a loyalist group classified as a terrorist organisation by the UK - contacted Haughey during his third term as Taoiseach in 1987, claiming that two years earlier, an MI5 agent had provided information about his home, his cars and the yacht he used to reach his private island, and encouraged them to assassinate him.
The previously classified government documents were released under the thirty-year rule.
“In 1985 we were approached by a MI5 officer attached to the NIO [Northern Ireland office] and based in Lisburn, Alex Jones was his supposed name,” the UVF letter said. “He asked us to execute you.”
The UVF letter says they turned down the request, because they did not want to do the work of the UK’s “Dirty Tricks Department”.
In the letter to Haughey they wrote: “We refused to do it. We were asked would we accept responsibility if you were killed. We refused.
“We have no love for you but we are not going to carry out work for the Dirty Tricks Department of the British.”
The agent was said to have provided extensive information about Haughey’s vehicles, along with photographs of his home, details of his trips to Kerry airport, and pictures of the plane he used.
The threat was taken seriously at the time, and scuba divers were used to search the hull of Haughey’s boat for explosive devices.
The UVF letter said they believed the MI5 plot was designed to destroy the Irish economy, and also said the British planned to provide them with anthrax, and also the means of spreading foot and mouth disease, fowl pest, and other animal diseases.
The declassified papers also show that Ireland’s embassy in Australia received threatening and abusive calls after a statue of Queen Victoria which had been in storage for 40 years was given as a gift to the city of Sydney.
The embassy wrote to the Irish government in December 1987 to warn that the gesture had not been received well by some.
The message said: “In the days preceding the unveiling, you should be aware that the embassy received a number of threatening and abusive phone calls about the propriety of an Irish government giving a statue of Victoria as a gift.
“The callers demanded to know the name of who was going to represent the Irish government at the ceremony and to warn him/her to stay away.”