From secret details of the internal Irish government view that unionist politician Peter Robinson was "a dangerous man" to letters to the Taoiseach condemning the screening of pornographic films, the State Papers released today offer a behind closed doors view of Ireland in 1985.

Mícheál Lehane and Conor McMorrow, of RTÉ's Political Staff, trawled through the confidential State Papers, which have been kept under lock and key for 30 years until day.

Here is Part Two of 30 things we have learned from 30 years ago. (Read Part One here)


16. Quinn believed Robinson could live with Irish government

In February 1985, then minister for labour Ruairi Quinn detected a signal from Peter Robinson that he could live with some "form of presence of the Irish government" in Northern Ireland.

Mr Quinn told the secretary of state for Northern Ireland, Douglas Hurd, that the DUP was a party with ambitions and unionists had not ruled out "Dublin involvement".

Mr Hurd replied: "Well the DUP have ... notwithstanding Peter Robinson's grace notes."


17. Church view on agreement

After the Anglo-Irish Agreement was signed, Catholic bishop of Derry Edward Daly wrote immediately to the Taoiseach.

He described the accord as a "magnificent and historic achievement" and "our first real ray of hope for many years".

Bishop Daly said he could not say this publicly though, because his endorsement could be interpreted "in the wrong way by some in the unionist community".

However, Fr Denis Faul warned the Department of Foreign Affairs that the agreement must be seen to deliver very soon to retain the confidence of "ordinary people".

He feared that working-class nationalists would view the agreement as something "engineered purely for the SDLP's benefit".


18. Don't pay welfare bonus - Dukes

Finance minister Alan Dukes made it known to government colleagues in 1984 that he did not agree that a double weeks' Christmas payment to long-term welfare recipients was a done deal.

He said they may expect the payment but argued it should not be paid because welfare recipients would be marginally better-off this year.

Plus, he said, the extra cost to the State would be more than £20 million.

Mr Dukes believed too that the country's overall level of borrowing could not be pushed any higher to make these payments.


19. Ireland in 1985 – a cold place for women

There were concerns in 1985 that Ireland would have some difficulty signing up to the UN convention on the elimination of discrimination against women.

The advice to government was that efforts must be made to ensure women in rural areas had access to adequate health care, including family planning services.

But there was less concern about women being refused membership of golf clubs.

This was, the Department of Foreign Affairs concluded, not an issue of human rights or fundamental freedoms.


20. Prisons

The Prison Officers' Association warned of industrial unrest and poor staff morale this year.

But an agreement was reached that they would not engage in "public wrangling" as efforts to address the situation commenced.

Cabinet also agreed in 1985 to open up the military prison in the Curragh - should it be required to deal with rising prisoner numbers.

The Department of Defence was opposed to this. It argued that the Curragh was needed to discipline army offenders.

The cabinet was told that the Curragh worked well as a military jail. So much so that the army was a disciplined force, perhaps, it said, the last one left in the State.


21. RTÉ journalists temporarily taken into custody in Brixton

A team of four people, including two RTÉ Today Tonight staff, were taken into custody in Brixton in March 1985, according to a telex sent to the Department of Foreign Affairs from the Irish Embassy in London.

The telex details how the Today Tonight team were in London preparing a programme on the case of Annie Maguire, who was being falsely detained for the possession of explosives.

They had already filmed a number of interviews with Mrs Maguire in prison.

Pat Cox, a future president of the European Parliament, was the RTÉ reporter on the programme.

Future RTÉ Head of News Joe Mulholland, Pauline O'Brien of RTÉ and two locally-recruited technicians were filming exterior shots of Brixton prison from the public street outside.

As they were filming they were approached by prison staff and then the police were called.

The four were then taken to Brixton Police Station where they were held for three hours but their tapes were confiscated.

The documents released today show how the Irish Embassy in London pressed the matter with the British authorities so the confiscated film would be returned.


22. Fitzgerald says no to unionist role 

An idea that the new Irish secretariat in Belfast should be balanced by a reciprocal arrangement for Northern representatives in Dublin was described by the then minister for trade, John Bruton, as a "very constructive suggestion".

Mr Bruton made the comments in a letter to Garret FitzGerald.

The minister was passing on correspondence from a constituent of his who came up with the proposal.

In his response the Taoiseach said he did not agree that "unionist representatives or the British government should have a role in relation to this State".


23. Unionist dazed – Catholics stock supplies

The State Papers detail a meeting between a Foreign Affairs official and SDLP councillor Brian Feeney following the signing of the Anglo-Irish Agreement.

Secret minutes of the meeting say that Mr Feeney's impression from his unionist neighbours is that "they are still dazed" and do not really know what to make of the agreement.

The minutes too record that most "Catholic parishes in Belfast have emergency supplies of foodstuffs, gas and other items".

It says "these could be availed of in an emergency created by loyalist paramilitary action".


24. Ruairi Quinn on equality for women

In March 1985, the government chief whip Seán Barrett wrote to the minister for labour Ruairi Quinn about the government's policy on equal opportunity between men and women in employment.

Documents released today show a draft response of a letter from Minister Quinn's office to Deputy Barrett.

In the April 1985 letter, a paragraph is crossed out in black pen.

The handwritten notes on the back of the letter suggest omitting the paragraph and this is later agreed by Minister Quinn.

So what was the offending line?

In a sign of how different Ireland was 30 years ago, the line stated: "It was my view that it would be entirely inconsistent to seek to oblige State-sponsored bodies to include an equality of opportunity programme as a specific item of personnel policy if a similar programme did not operate in my own Department."

Minister Quinn had already initiated an equality programme for staff in his department to begin "in the near future".


25. Dukes opposed to devolving powers to local councils

Not for the first time, 1985 saw the government come up with proposals to devolve powers from central government to local authorities.

But a letter from minister for finance Alan Dukes to Taoiseach Garret FitzGerald in April 1985 shows how opinions on the matter clearly differed at the cabinet table.

Minister Dukes warns that devolution could involve significant additional costs at a time that were not provided for in the National Plan.

He said the budgetary position requires the government to seek savings and "not contemplating ideas which would add to public expenditure". 

Mr Dukes then lays out his views to the Taoiseach in no uncertain terms: "We should not seriously consider, still less given any commitment, even in principle, to ideas in this area until the full consequences, notably the financial, have been shown to be acceptable, I will certainly refuse to sanction any proposals involving additional expenditure."

He added that certain functions should not be devolved from central to local government.

He added: "I would make it clear not that I have no intention of considering, much less agreeing to, any proposals for the devolution to local authorities of any of the functions of the Revenue Commissioners."

He warned against being "over-ambitious" with the devolution proposals.


26. Norris v Ireland – State told not to mention AIDS 

This was the year the government prepared its defence against David Norris' bid to force the decriminalisation of homosexuality in Ireland through his action in the European Courts.

The minister for foreign affairs had asked government to decide if the State might argue that one of the reasons for retaining the laws against "homosexual acts" was the consideration that the laws might "counter the spread of AIDS".

After consulting the Attorney General and the State's chief medical officer, it was decided the issue of AIDS should not be raised in defence of the case.

The AG warned that pleading AIDS as a defence would logically lead to a commitment to enforce the existing law.

John Rogers argued "it is unlikely this will be acceptable in our community as it would be seen as an attack on homosexuals".


27. Cabinet concerns over President Hillery's meeting with future Belfast mayor

Sinn Féin local election candidate Máirtín Ó Muilleoir, who would go on to become mayor of Belfast, was at the centre of a diplomatic incident 30 years ago, that involved late night phone calls from Áras an Uachtaráin to then tánaiste Dick Spring.

President Patrick Hillery's secretary contacted the Taoiseach's office on 11 May 1985 about the presentation of the Glór na nGael Awards the following day.

An award was due to be presented to the west Belfast committee of Glór na nGael, which would be collected by its chairman Máirtín Ó Muilleoir – who was also a Sinn Féin election candidate.

Documents released today detail how minister for foreign affairs Peter Barry was in touch with the President about the matter.

Minister Barry was concerned about adverse publicity.

If he were to attend the presentation ceremony, "a photo of the President presenting the west Belfast award to Mr Ó Muilleoir with the minister in the background would invariably appear in the media. Mr Ó Muilleoir in this way would be able to manipulate the occasion to his own political advantage."

President Hillery decided that "it would not be prudent for him to pull out of the ceremonies at this stage and the lesser of two evils was to proceed" and "try to ensure the presentation ceremony was as low key as possible".

Tánaiste Dick Spring was contacted by the Taoiseach's office at his home in Tralee late on the Saturday night and briefed about the matter.

He agreed that at official level, the government should not request the President to withdraw from the function.

The Tánaiste said the President was not presenting an award to a political figure and it was "in effect a community award".


28. Garda killer's death sentence reprieve 

On the morning of 27 June 1985, two men in their early 20s - Noel Callan and Michael McHugh - took part in an armed robbery outside the labour exchange in Ardee, Co Louth.

In the garda chase that ensued, McHugh shot dead Garda Sergeant Patrick Morrissey with a shot to his head.

Both Callan and McHugh were convicted of the murder by the non-jury Special Criminal Court in December 1985.

McHugh was initially sentenced to death for the murder.

The sentence was commuted to one of 40 years of penal servitude by then President Patrick Hillery, seven days before the execution was scheduled to be carried out.

McHugh was released from prison in early December 2015.

The State Papers released today include documents from the Department of the Taoiseach that show how President Hillery "on the advice of the government … commuted the sentence of death passed on Michael McHugh to a sentence of penal servitude for 40 years".

The government's decision to advise the President was "taken on the basis that the full sentence of forty years will be served without remission".

Callan was released in November 2015 and McHugh was released in early December after serving 30 years in prison.

In 2013, Callan had fought and won a legal case, which found he was entitled to 25% remission on his 40-year sentence.


29. Refugees in Ireland

As Europe is engulfed in the migrant crisis in winter 2015/2016, a government memo from November 1985 shows that the refugee issue was also on the political agenda 30 years ago.

Minister for foreign affairs Peter Barry sought government approval for the establishment of a "permanent organisational structure to provide for the admission, reception and resettlement of refugees".

The new structure would "make every effort to integrate refugees into Irish society".

Up to then Ireland had accepted groups of refugees from Hungary in 1956, Chile in 1974 and from Vietnam in 1979/81. In July 1985, the government decided to admit 25 Iranian Bahai refugees for resettlement.  


30. Stardust compensation

Ministers were warned that there would be “chaos” in October 1985 unless one of them took responsibility to handle a compensation scheme for victims of the Stardust disaster and their families. 

The previous month the government had established a Tribunal to award compensation. But the cabinet records show there was concern over which government department would deal with the issue in the Dáil.

The Taoiseach's Department concluded the scheme would involve a lot of detailed work and “could be highly controversial.” 

It was advised that it should be kept as “as far as possible” from the Department of the Taoiseach.