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Last Updated: Saturday, 1 January, 2005, 02:15 GMT
IRA and UDA 'held secret talks'
Talks: IRA members met with UDA
Secret talks between the UDA and the Provisional and Official IRA 30 years ago have been revealed in confidential Cabinet papers.

They have been made available under the 30 year rule.

They also reveal an offer from brutal Ugandan dictator Idi Amin to host peace talks.

There was also a plan to provide power during the Ulster Workers Strike of 1974 from a nuclear submarine in Belfast Lough.

There was a certain amount of camaraderie
1974 Northern Ireland Secretary Merlyn Rees

It came from the then Prime Minister Harold Wilson.

The Cabinet papers reveal that the contacts between the paramilitary groups were instigated by the then Ulster Defence Association chairman Andy Tyrie.

They eventually led to a conference attended by more than 60 people at which there was a certain amount of camaraderie.

It was held at a house in north Down called Laneside.

'Meeting expenses'

The papers say that some of the leaders were clearly anxious to have what was described as "a meaningful relationship" with one another.

One document said they undoubtedly saw this as a means of getting their organisations off the hook of having to continue a campaign of violence.

Another document said that though the government could not become involved in direct financing or control of any political party formed by any of the groups, it could allow the use of charitable fund money for specific educational and meeting expenses.

It was the year of the failed power-sharing executive and the Ulster Workers' strike.

At one point, the papers indicate a fleet of nuclear submarines could have been brought to Belfast within 48 hours to provide an emergency power supply.

But it never happened and nor did any peace talks - which the papers show the unlikely figure of Idi Amin had offered to host in Uganda.

There is a special BBC Northern Ireland programme on the archive papers. Cabinet Confidential is broadcast on BBC One NI on Sunday 2 January at 2245 GMT.

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