Army could recruit 50,000 men in North,said Hume

FORMER SDLP leader John Hume telephoned Dublin to suggest the mass recruitment of northern nationalists into the Irish army in the hours following Bloody Sunday, files released to the National Archives today show.

Mr Hume told an Irish Government official the Republic could "easily recruit 50,000 men from the North for the Army" but was asked not to discuss the matter further on the phone.

With a note of desperation, he also warned the official, with whom he had been in touch "all evening" after the shootings, that he and his colleagues were "at the end of their political resources".

Mr Hume threw out the suggestion against the background of fears that the IRA would capitalise on the public outrage and enjoy a flood of new recruits from men never before involved in paramilitary activity if the Government did not offer an


The extent of public anger and confusion was illustrated in the same note by the unnamed official, who recorded that Senator Paddy McGowan in Donegal had phoned to report his belief that 16 people had in fact been killed and 45 wounded "many casualties having been taken across the border".

Senator McGowan suggested the Government should make a gesture in relation to the families of those killed by supplying money to "the Fund of which Mr PK O'Doherty is chairman in the Derry area" (presumed to be the Relief of Distress Fund for the North). He suggested a sum of £1,000 per family.

The official also noted the comments of Phil Curran of the Catholic ex-Servicemen's Association in Belfast, who phoned to warn that "the ghettos were openly talking about a mass insurrection and demanding that the Dublin Government supply


The note, dated January 31, 1972, is one of tens of thousands of individual papers contained in over 2,000 State files released to the National Archives under the 30-year rule today.

Most come from the Department of Foreign Affairs, the Taoiseach's office, the Attorney General and the President and relate to the year 1972. This year was overshadowed by the events in Derry on Bloody Sunday, which plunged relations between Ireland and Britain into an abyss not experienced since the early 1920s.

Correspondence, memos, minutes of Cabinet meetings and records of conversations show there were strongly held fears of all-out war in the North and considerable concern about the consequences for the peace and prosperity of the South.

A detailed account of the Bloody Sunday events as witnessed and interpreted by the late human rights observer Lord Brockway is contained in a letter written to Taoiseach Jack Lynch a few days after the atrocity, to which Lynch sent heartfelt thanks in reply.

Also included is a note of a phone call from the British Ambassador in Dublin to the Government following the burning of his embassy in the city in which he concluded: "there is a breakdown in law and order here".

The turmoil that followed Bloody Sunday came on top of two years of violence and unrest in the North and followed the controversy over the 1970 Arms Trial, further details of which have also been disclosed in this year's release of documents.

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