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‘They trusted Albert Reynolds in Westminster’

British Prime Minister John Major shakes hands with Taoiseach and Fianna Fail leader Albert Reynolds on the Joint Declartion at a press conference outside 10 Downing Street. 15/12/1993 Pic Eamonn Farrell/Photocall Ireland
British Prime Minister John Major with Taoiseach and Fianna Fail leader Albert Reynolds on the Joint Declartion at a press conference outside Downing Street in 1993. (Pic Eamonn Farrell/Photocall Ireland)

A UNIQUE insight into relationship enjoyed by Albert Reynolds and British Prime Minister John Major, which gave impetus to the Peace Process, has been revealed by former RTÉ London Correspondent Brian O’Connell, following the death of the former Taoiseach.

As tributes continue to be paid to Mr Reynolds (81) the signing of The Downing Street Declaration in 1993 has been highlighted as one of the seminal moments in both his career and in recent Anglo-Irish relations.

Former RTÉ journalist Brian O’Connell who reported from Westminster throughout the 1990s was a close witness to their dealings during the signing of the Declaration.

“The trust between him and John Major was fantastic. It took about 15 months of talking. Reynolds was very dogged and determined in the run-up to the signing of the Declaration,” he said.

“[Later] When the Good Friday Agreement was signed in 1998, I did an interview with John Major that day in London and Major said: ‘How is Albert?’ He said ‘do you have a number for him’ and he asked could I dial the number.

“I went into my cubby office and dialled up Albert’s number. I got his daughter and I said: ‘is your dad there? I have John Major here in the RTÉ office in London’ and she put her dad on. I handed the phone to John Major and I sat there while two fairly bemused detectives sat in the outer room with me drinking tea, while he nattered to Albert Reynolds on the phone for ages.

They were saying ‘It’s a great day; a great day’ and then Major looked at me as if to say would you mind closing the door please.”

“It was then it struck me that they liked each other.”

He added:

“They trusted Reynolds in Westminster.”

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Robert Mulhern

Robert is a freelance news and sports journalist. He is also the author of A Very Different County and creator/producer of Sex, Flights and Videotapes for RTE's Doc on One. Follow him @MulhernRobert on Twitter

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