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Last Updated: Friday, 14 March 2008, 14:06 GMT
Fireside talks 'led to ceasefire'
Brendan Duddy
Brendan Duddy gave an extensive interview to the BBC
A man who passed secret messages between the government and the IRA for 20 years has given his first television interview.

Brendan Duddy's involvement in the peace process brought him into contact with MI5, MI6 and senior Republicans.

He has never spoken extensively about his role before, but in a documentary for BBC2, journalist Peter Taylor has persuaded him to do so.

It emerged that crucial talks took place in Brendan Duddy's home.

Mr Duddy told the BBC: "The notion that big things happened in the Oval Office in Washington or in the Grand Hall of the Kremlin... actually it doesn't happen that way.

"It happens less formally and simply."

Peter Taylor said the Derry man's role was "absolutely critical".

In the process, because he was dealing on the one hand with the British, on the other hand with the IRA, he did put his life on the line
Peter Taylor
BBC journalist

"He brought the IRA and the British government together for talks that ultimately led to the ceasefire of 1994," said Taylor.

"Without that ceasefire there would have been no Good Friday Agreement and no peace today.

"What is astonishing is that these talks took place in Brendan Duddy's house. It is really the story of an ordinary man in extraordinary circumstances."

Peter Taylor said those involved used to clean out the fire and go and make tea.

Stormont Castle
MI5 officers were based at Stormont Castle during the Troubles

"It is a million miles away from the kind of circumstances you expect these historic events to take place in," he said.

Peter Taylor said Mr Duddy was prepared to take risks as he was "driven by the desire to end the conflict".

"He couldn't stand violence, he abhors violence.

"As far back as 1972, he began talking to the IRA to remove weapons from the Bogside on Bloody Sunday. So, he developed these abilities to try and bring peace over a long period of 20 years.

"In the process, because he was dealing on the one hand with the British, on the other hand with the IRA, he did put his life on the line."

Peter Taylor's programme, The Secret Peacemaker, will be broadcast on BBC2 on 26 March.



VIDEO AND AUDIO NEWS
Brendan Duddy explains his role in the negotiations



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