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A statue of Patrick Kavanagh on the banks of the Grand Canal, Dublin

The two best bits of the just published State papers from the 1980s are, inevitably, sections carrying no great national importance.

One record had a staff member from the Irish embassy in London getting verbally beaten up by a British MP during a train journey.

The diplomat — one Richard Ryan — described the MP as getting rattier and rattier throughout the trip, ending up “a fair burgundy colour about the neck”.

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