GAA vetoed Croker visit by NIO minister

GAA vetoed Croker visit by NIO minister

1985 papers show GAA blocked plan by Aer Lingus to invite Nick Scott

In 1985 the GAA – in recent years one of the most progressive and effective supporters of Northern Ireland’s political and peace processes – vetoed a visit by Northern Ireland Minister Nick Scott to either of that year’s All Ireland finals at Croke Park.

Mr Scott, then a Tory MP for Chelsea, had been one of Ireland’s most sympathetic allies in achieving the Anglo Irish Agreement and remained a friend of Ireland up to his death in 2005.

He was suspected by hard-line Thatcherites of being too “wet” on social issues and was eventually – some years later – successfully deselected as the Kensington and Chelsea Tory candidate (the two constituencies were merged) after a mishap at his party conference in Bournemouth in 1996 after he attended the Irish Embassy party.

Newly released Irish State papers reveal that the then Secretary General of Ireland’s Department of Affairs Sean Donlon, in a letter to Ireland’s Ambassador in London Noel Dorr on 4 March 1985, makes reference to a trip to Dublin by Nicholas Scott, parliamentary under-secretary of state at the NIO (Northern Ireland Office).

Mr Scott had expressed to Irish officials his desire to attend an All-Ireland GAA final. David Kennedy, Aer Lingus chief executive, “who receives complimentary tickets from the GAA asked the General Secretary of the organisation if there might be any objection to bringing Mr Scott in his party”.

The letter continues: “The matter was referred to the GAA’s Ard Chomhairle which decided to inform David Kennedy that they would not welcome Scott or any other British minister to a major GAA event.

“David Kennedy feels there is no point in raising the matter again in the foreseeable future and he is hoping Mr Scott won’t press the matter. “He has not, of course, told Mr Scott of the GAA’s attitude.”

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