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Text and Research: Brendan Lynn ... Edited and Compiled: Martin Melaugh
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Surname: A B C D E F G H I J K L M Mc N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z

| Adams | Ahern | Alderdice | Alison | Ancram | Andrews | Annesley | Atkins | Attwood |

Adams, ('Gerry') Gerard (b. 6 October 1948)
Politician; President of Sinn Féin (SF) 1983-present; SF MP for West Belfast 1983-1992 and 1997-present

Gerry Adams was born in Belfast on 6 October 1948, into a family with a strong Republican background. After leaving school at the age of 17 he began work as a barman before an interest in politics saw him become involved in what has been described as 'defence work' in Catholic areas of Belfast after the outbreak of civil unrest in 1969. He was believed by security forces at the time to have been the head of the Irish Republican Army (IRA) in the Ballymurphy area of west Belfast and this led to him being interned in 1971. In 1972 Adams was released to take part in secret talks in London between IRA and the Secretary of State, William Whitelaw, in the wake of a brief IRA ceasefire. After his arrest with other leading republicans in Belfast in 1973, he twice unsuccessfully tried to escape from the Maze prison and was later sentenced to eighteen months imprisonment. During this period of imprisonment Adams was reputed to have been the author of a series of articles which began to appear in the republican paper, Republican News, under the heading of the 'Brownie Articles'. The significance of these was the way in which they advocated the need for republicans to develop a political programme as well as the need to maintain the so called 'armed struggle'.

He was eventually released in 1977 but allegations continued that he remained a senior figure in the IRA, a charge he has always denied. In February 1978, he was charged with membership of IRA, but was later freed after a ruling by the presiding judge that there was insufficient evidence for a conviction. In November 1978 he was selected as Vice-President of Sinn Féin (SF) (1978-1983) and in this role began to gain some prominence with calls for the republican movement to recognise that its aims could not be secured by military means alone but would also have to entail a more active engagement in political activity. His growing importance in deciding and shaping future policy became clear during and after the 1981 H-Block hunger strike. This new approach soon became known as the 'armalite and ballot box' strategy with republican goals to be advanced by both violent and political means, the latter being done by means of the contesting of elections on both sides of the border. The first indication of the apparent success of this strategy came in October 1982 when he was one of five SF candidates to be returned to the new Northern Ireland Assembly (1982-86), although in line with party policy they refused to take their seats.

In June 1983 he fought and won the West Belfast seat in the Westminster parliament on an abstentionist ticket (1983-92). This success on the electoral front was also to be matched in the early 1980s by Adam's growing dominance within SF itself and this culminated with his selection as its President in November 1983 (1983-present). From that point on, along with key allies, he sought to develop a coherent political strategy for the republican movement which at times led to a number of significant developments. In November 1986 against the opposition of many traditionalists Adams was successful in dropping SF's policy of abstention from the Dáil. In the late 1980s he began a series of discussions with the leader of constitutional nationalism in Northern Ireland, John Hume then leader of the Social Democratic and Labour Party (SDLP), which were to pave the way in 1993 to an agreed position between Northern nationalists as to how political progress could be made. Along the way however Adams was to suffer a series of setbacks most notably in 1984 when he survived an assassination attempt by Loyalist paramilitaries and then in April 1992 he lost his Westminster seat to his party's main political rival, the SDLP.

In spite of these he retained his dominant position within the republican movement and thus was to play a significant role in the political developments of the mid-1990s. These were to coincide with the declaration of an IRA ceasefire in August 1994 in the expectation that this would allow for all-party talks to begin between the main political parties in Northern Ireland along with the British and Irish governments. The entry however of Adams and SF into this process was delayed as the British government remained sceptical over the status of the 1994 IRA ceasefire and then over the demands for decommissioning by the IRA. Although this ceasefire was to breakdown in February 1996 the role played by Adams and Sinn Fein was by now being recognised in terms of growing electoral support especially amongst the nationalist electorate in both parts of Ireland. At the Westminster general election of May 1997 he regained his West Belfast seat (1997-present)as well helping to produce the party's best ever election result in Northern Ireland winning over 126,000 of the total votes cast and obtaining 16.1 per cent share of the vote. An added bonus followed in the general election of June 1997 in the Republic where SF succeeded in electing a candidate pledged to take a seat in the Dáil for the first time.

Boosted by these successes and other related developments, the IRA ceasefire was renewed in July 1997 which allowed Adams to lead SF into the multi-party talks taking place under the chairmanship of George Mitchell. He later committed his party to the Mitchell principles on which those participating in these negotiations had been required to sign. In spite of certain reservations he succeeded in getting SF to sign up to the Good Friday Agreement (GFA) in May 1998 even though this required republicans to formally recognise partition. Adams decided not to accept a position as minister in the new Northern Ireland Executive and instead remained as leader of SF. Although the GFA has stalled on numerous occasions, this has done no obvious damage to either him or the party he continues to lead. On the contrary SF has continued to make electoral advances becoming the largest nationalist party in Northern Ireland following the Westminster general election and local government elections of June 2001 when it obtained 21.71 per cent and 20.66 per cent respectively of the total votes cast. Furthermore this momentum was maintained and built upon in the Republic of Ireland, where in May 2002 SF succeeded in winning five seats in the Dáil. Further success followed at the election to the Northern Ireland Assembly in Novemebr 2003 when SF gained 23.5% of the first preference vote and in the process gained six seats.

Book References:
Adams, Gerry. (1996), Before the Dawn: An Autobiography. London: Heinemann.
Elliott, Sydney. and Flackes, W.D. (1999), Northern Ireland: A Political Directory 1968-1999. Belfast: Blackstaff Press.
Moloney, Ed. (2002), A Secret History of the IRA. London:Penguin Press.
Sharrock, David. and Devenport, Mark. (1997), Man of War, Man of Peace: the Unauthorised Biography of Gerry Adams. London: MacMillan.
Web Sources:
http://news.bbc.co.uk/hi/english/static/northern_ireland/understanding/profiles/gerry_adams.stm
http://www.rte.ie/news/features/westminster_election/constituencies/wst_belfast.html
http://www.ark.ac.uk/elections/gallsum.htm
http://www.unison.ie/features/election2002/
[Entry written by B.Lynn - 29 October 2002; updated 9 June 2004]


Ahern, Bertie (b. 12 September 1951)
Politician; Fianna Fáil (FF) TD; Taoiseach (Prime Minister Republic of Ireland) 1997-present

Bertie Ahern was born in a working-class area of Dublin, with both his parents staunch supporters of the party that he was eventually to lead, Fianna Fáil (FF). His education began at St. Patrick's National School, Drumcondra, St Aidan's CBS, Whitehall, Rathmines College of Commerce, and then University College Dublin. Ahern then began work as an accountant. He first became a public representative in 1977 when he was elected as FF Deputy for the constituency of Dublin Central (1977-present). In the government of Charles Haughey,then Taoiseach, Ahern served as assistant government whip (1980-82) and as chief whip (March 1982-November 1982) when the administration fell from office. Over the next few years he held various positions on the opposition front bench.

With the return of a FF government in 1987, he joined the cabinet as Minster for Labour (1987-91) and over the next four years gained a reputation as a conciliator, attempting to forge better relations between the trade unions and employers. In November 1991 he was promoted to the more senior position as Minister of Finance by Albert Reynolds who had succeeded Ahern's political patron, Haughey, as Taoiseach and Leader of FF. Three years later in November 1994 following the resignation of Reynolds he succeeded to the leadership of his party (1994-present) but failed to be elected as Taoiseach when the Labour Party decided to enter into a coalition government along with the two main opposition groups, Fine Gael (FG) and Democratic Left (DL). In spite of this setback Ahern's subsequent period in opposition proved beneficial as he attempted use his skills as a conciliator to overcome the rivalries and antagonisms that had affected FF for over fifteen years. At the same time however he also faced internal criticism most notably in his decision to pledge FF's support for the 1995 referendum to allow for the introduction of divorce in the Republic of Ireland.

Following the general election of June 1997, FF returned to power by way of a coalition with the assistance of one of the smaller parties in the Dáil, the Progressive Democrats (PD), with Ahern being elected as Taoiseach (1997-present). With regards to the 'Peace Process' in Northern Ireland which had been stalled since the breakdown of the Irish Republican Army (IRA) ceasefire in February 1996, he was anxious to use his election victory along with the return of a majority Labour government in Britain, to inject fresh impetus. After behind the scenes negotiations, the renewal of the PIRA ceasefire in July 1997 in conjunction with other related developments, eventually allowed for a date to set for the commencement of multi-party talks in September 1997. Along with his British counterpart, Tony Blair, he became increasingly involved in these as both worked to try to ensure that some sort of agreement could be reached between the two governments and those Northern Ireland political parties involved in the negotiations. Amongst all the participants he was praised for his dedication and commitment particularly when he returned to the crucial discussions in early April 1998 following the death of his mother. The successful conclusion of these by way of the signing of the Good Friday Agreement (GFA) on 10 April 1998 was largely based on his willingness to reach a compromise on key issues raised during the discussions. Thus, on those articles of the Republic' s constitution which laid territorial claim to Northern Ireland Ahern agreed to introduce amendments in return for the establishment of cross-border bodies to encourage cooperation between the authorities north and south.

In the subsequent referendums, held on 22 May 1998, he actively campaigned for the electorate in the Republic to support both the GFA and the proposed constitutional amendments, which they subsequently did by an overwhelming majority. In spite of the success of having the GFA secure a majority of the electorate of support by way of the referendums, held both in parts of Ireland on 22 May 1998, the problems of having it fully implemented have continued to consume a large part of his political agenda. As a result along with Tony Blair, Ahern has been closely involved in the ongoing attempts to reach a final conclusion. In all of this, his role has been seen by many observers as being based on the need to encourage the republican movement to make positive moves whilst at the same persuading the British government to respond in kind. This is a task in which Ahern is likely to continue given the fact that in May 2002 he became the first Taoiseach in over 20 years to have been returned to office following the return of his coalition government following in the general election.

Book References:
Collins, Stephen. (2000), The Power Game: Fianna Fáil Since Lemass. Dublin: O'Brien.
Elliott, Sydney. and Flackes, W.D. (1999), Northern Ireland: A Political Directory 1968-1999. Belfast: Blackstaff Press.
McRedmond, Louis. (ed.) (1998), Modern Irish Lives: Dictionary of 20th-century Biography. Dublin: Gill & Macmillan.
Whelan, Ken. and Masterson, Eugene. (1998), Bertie Ahern - Taoiseach and Peacemaker. Dublin: Blackwater Press.
Web Sources:
http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/northern_ireland/1170144.stm
http://www.infoplease.com/ce6/people/A0802804.html
http://www.rte.ie/culture/millennia/people/ahernbertie.html
http://www.trinity.edu/rhuesca/article/ahern.htm
http://www.cnn.com/WORLD/europe/9804/10/n.ireland.profiles/ahern/ahern.html
http://www.bartleby.com/65/ah/AhernB.html
http://www.taoiseach.gov.ie/index.asp?locID=189&docID=-1
[Entry written by B.Lynn - 29 October 2002]


Alderdice, John (Life Peerage 1996)(Doctor of Psychiatry), (b. 28 March 1955)
Politician; Leader of the Alliance Party of Northern Ireland (APNI) 1987-1998; Speaker of Northern Ireland Assembly 1998-2004

The son of a Presbyterian minister John Alderdice was educated at Ballymena Academy, Queens University, Belfast, and the Royal College of Psychiatrists, before later working at Belfast City Hospital as a consultant psychiatrist. He first joined the Alliance Party of Northern Ireland (APNI) in 1978 and became a member of the party's ruling council in 1979 and also served for a time as its Vice-Chairman. In spite of the fact that he had never been elected as a public representative, in October 1987 Alderdice was chosen as the new party Leader (1987-98). His early years were dominated by the aftermath of the Anglo-Irish Agreement (AIA). On this he issue he rejected unionist demands for its suspension whilst also calling for a review of its operation in order to try to allay the fears of many within the unionist community in Northern Ireland. In the early 1990s he was particularly active in calling for inter-party negotiations and in order to encourage this process Alderdice pressed for the British and Irish governments to use their influence to bring these about. When these talks finally began in June 1991 he led the APNI delegation but after a prolonged process these ended towards the end of 1992 without any agreement. In spite of this setback Alderdice continued to lead the party and built upon his own position by successfully winning a seat on Belfast City Council (1989-97). From this political base he also attempted to win the Westminster constituency of East Belfast at the general elections of 1987 and 1992 and although unsuccessful he did ensure that the APNI polled well on both occasions.

In the political developments of the mid-1990s, Alderdice at first voiced concerns over the talks between Gerry Adams, then President of Sinn Féin (SF) and John Hume, then leader of the Social Democratic and Labour Party (SDLP). While broadly supporting the Downing Street Declaration (DSD) he urged the British government to take the initiative in producing its own framework as to how Northern Ireland should be governed and for a fresh a round of talks between the main political parties. In February 1995 he led his party for the first time into formal talks with SF in Belfast and in May 1996 Alderdice was elected along with six of his party colleagues to the newly established Northern Ireland Forum (1996-1998). His political work was recognised in August 1996 when he became a life peer, taking a seat in the House of Lords at Westminster, after his nomination by the Liberal Democrats in Britain, with whom he had encouraged his party to forge close ties.

At the multi-party talks which began which began in earnest in September 1997, Alderdice headed the APNI delegation and was to sign up to the Good Friday Agreement (GFA)in April 1998. The APNI campaigned actively for a 'Yes' vote during the referendum in May 1998 and the party believed that its long-term policies and attitudes were vindicated by the positive result. This belief however was shattered with the party's disappointing showing in the elections for the new Northern Ireland Assembly in June 1998 when it won only six seats, polling just 6.5 per cent of the vote. Disappointed by this setback, the APNI then suffered further damage when shortly after these results Alderdice stunned his party colleagues by announcing his decision to resign as party Leader. His decision was to be based on his willingness to accept the nomination of Mo Mowlam,then Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, to become the Presiding Officer in the new assembly. This title was later altered to that of Speaker (1998-2004) and in this role, whilst attempting to remain neutral in the handling of Assembly matters, he has at times faced criticism from both unionist and nationalist members. In October 2003 Alderdice was appointed as a member of the Independent Monitoring Commission, a four person body, established by the British and Irish governments to monitor the paramilitary ceasefires in Northern Ireland.

Book References:
Elliott, Sydney. and Flackes, W.D. (1999), Northern Ireland: A Political Directory 1968-1999. Belfast: Blackstaff Press.
Web Sources:
http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/events/northern_ireland/focus/97363.stm
http://www.ni-assembly.gov.uk/members/biogs/lordalderdice.htm
[Entry written by B.Lynn - October 2002; updated June 2004]


Alison, Michael James Hugh (b. 27 June 1926)
Politician; Conservative Party MP; Minister of State at the Northern Ireland Office (NIO) 1979-81
[Entry to be included at a later date]


Ancram, Michael (Earl) (b. 1946)
Politician; Conservative Party MP; Minister of State at the Northern Ireland Office (NIO) 1994-1997

Michael Ancram was educated at Edinburgh University and Oxford before qualifying as a barrister. Although Ancram was the heir to the title of Marquess of Lothian he relinquished it in order to enter the House of Commons as a Conservative MP, firstly for the constituency of Edinburgh South (1974-87) and later for Devizes (1992-present). In the wake of the republican and loyalist ceasefires in 1994, in his position as Minister for Political Development at the Northern Ireland Office (NIO), he was later involved with meeting their political representatives at a series of bilateral meetings at Stormont during 1995. In early 1996, following the Irish authorities support for a proposal from the British government for the holding of elections in Northern Ireland to proceed the commencement of political talks, it fell to him to guide the necessary legislation through the Westminster Parliament. As a result the Entry into Negotiations Act (NI) became law and elections were held in May 1996 for a new body, the Forum, from which members would then be chosen to attend all-party talks. At the British general elections of 1997 and 2001 Ancram was to retain his parliamentary seat and unsuccessfully stood for the leadership of the Conservative Party in the autumn of 2001.

Book References:
Elliott, Sydney. and Flackes, W.D. (1999), Northern Ireland: A Political Directory 1968-1999. Belfast: Blackstaff Press.
Web Sources:
http://www.politicallinks.co.uk/POLITICS2/BIOG/MP_BIOGS/bio.asp?id=187
[Entry written by B.Lynn - 29 October 2002]


Andrews, David (b. 1935)
Politician; Fianna Fáil (FF) TD; Irish Foreign Minister 1992-1993 and 1997-2000

David Andrews was educated at UCD and King's Inn, Dublin, he qualified as a barrister before entering the Dáil in 1965 as a Fianna Fáil (FF) deputy for the Dun Laoghaire constituency (1965-2000). In entering politics he was to follow in the footsteps of his father, Dr C.S. Andrews, who had fought in the War of Independence and on the anti-Treaty side during the Civil War, and who subsequently went onto become a founder member of FF. It was some time however before he gained promotion to higher office. The explanation most frequently advanced for this was his alleged strained relationship with party Leader and later Irish Taoiseach, Charles Haughey. Thus after having served in a number of junior positions, as minister of state at the Department of Foreign Affairs (1977-79) and the Department of Justice (1979) it was not until 1992 that Andrews was appointed to a cabinet position. In that year he became Minister of Foreign Affairs (1992-93) in the new Irish government led by Albert Reynolds. In this role he also assumed the position of co-chairman of the Anglo-Irish Intergovernmental Conference (AIIC) established under the 1985 Anglo-Irish Agreement (AIA).

His early period in these twin roles was to be dominated by the talks process initiated by Peter Brooke,then Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, and Andrews give his full support for the commencement of these. To allow for the negotiations to take place he agreed to the suspension of the AIA. When the talks got underway involving the British and Irish governments along with the main political parties in Northern Ireland, except for Sinn Féin (SF), Andrews made clear that the views of unionists were vital if they were to succeed. At the same time however he emphasised that any proposed settlement involving amendments to those articles in the Irish constitution which laid claim to Northern Ireland would have to be balanced with changes to the Government of Ireland Act 1920.

Although these talks were to break up at the end of 1992 without any sort of agreement, Andrews was at pains to emphasise the positive aspects and continued to advocate they formed the basis for the resumption of future discussions. By this point however internal political developments in the Republic of Ireland saw his removal as Minister of Foreign Affairs as the formation of a new FF-Labour government saw the post being given to Dick Spring, with Andrews becoming Minister of Defence and Marine (1993-4). When FF returned to government following the general election of June 1997 he was again appointed Minister of Defence but in October 1997 he replaced Ray Burke as Minister of Foreign Affairs. He at once became involved in the multi-party talks taking place at Stormont under the chairmanship of George Mitchell. During the crucial period of negotiations he was a senior member of the Irish governments delegation. As such on occasions he found himself involved in controversy. For instance in early 1998, he angered unionist delegates by arguing that any proposed cross-border powers should have executive powers, whilst also provoking the fury of republicans by agreeing to support the British governments move to temporarily exclude SF in February 1998 following a series of sectarian murders. Andrews was present for the formal session which finally saw an agreement reached in April 1998. In the wake of the referendums that ratified the Good Friday Agreement (GFA) in May 1998 he took part in the negotiations to try to ensure its full implementation. He announced his decision to resign his position as Foreign Minister in January 2000 along with a declaration that he was to retire from active politics at the next general election which took place in May 2002.

Book References:
Collins, Stephen. (2000), The Power Game: Fianna Fáil Since Lemass. Dublin:O'Brien.
Elliott, Sydney. and Flackes, W.D. (1999), Northern Ireland: A Political Directory 1968-1999. Belfast: Blackstaff Press.
Hennessey, Thomas. (2000), The Northern Ireland Peace Process: Ending the Troubles. London: Gill & Macmillan.
Web Sources:
http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/uk/northern_ireland/614118.stm
http://www.irelandemb.org/press/57.html
http://www.rte.ie/culture/millennia/people/andrewsdavid.html
[Entry written by B.Lynn - 29 October 2002]


Annesley, Hugh Norman (Sir) (b. 22 June 1939)
Police Officer; Chief Constable of the RUC June 1989 - November 1996

Hugh Annesley was born in and educated in Dublin attending St Andrews Preparatory School and Avoca School for Boys, Blackrock, before joining the Metropolitan Police, London, in 1958. His career in the force was marked by a series of promotions through the ranks and in 1974 he was appointed Chief Superintendent (1974-76). This was then followed in 1976 by a move to become Assistant Chief Constable in the Sussex Police (1976-81) and during his time in this position he was selected to attend courses at the Royal College of Defence Studies. These experiences saw him return to the Metropolitan Police in 1981 as Deputy Assistant Commissioner for central and north-west London (1981-85) and four years later in 1985 he was made Assistant Commisssioner with responsibilty for training and personnel (1985-89). In 1987 his responsibilties were extended to entail control of specialist operations which involved groups such as Special Branch and the coordination of anti-terrorist work in Britain. At the same time Annesley's work was recognised by his appointment as Britain's representative on the executive committee of Interpol (1987-90 and 1993-94) with its objective of coordinating the work of various police forces on a worldwide basis.

In spite of this range of experience his appointment as the Chief Constable of the Royal Ulster Constabulary (RUC) (1989-96) by the Northern Ireland Police Authority (NIPA) in June 1989 surprised many observers. In his new role Annesley's brief was to be an extremely challenging one, attempting to deal not only with the ongoing campaign of Irish Republican Army (IRA) but a fresh wave of attacks from loyalist paramilitaries. Furthermore he faced the task of politically sensitive matters such as attempts to improve relations between the RUC and the nationalist community in Northern Ireland. Here too difficulties were to occur particularly over widespread concerns of the leaking of sensitive security documents on suspected republican terrorists which were then apparently used by loyalists to attack members of the catholic community. In spite of a number of high profile investigations into these matters, allegations of collusion by the security forces continued to provoke ongoing controversy. Despite this controversy his service to the police forces in which he had served was awarded by a knighthood in 1992.

As chief constable of the RUC at the time of the calling of the first IRA ceasefire in August 1994, he responded cautiously drawing attention to the fact that the word 'permanent' had not been used in the statement. Later however following the calling of a ceasefire by loyalist paramilitary groups in October 1994, he began to take a more positive approach on the course of future events believing that there would be no immediate return to violence by either side. In addition he also contributed to the debate over what form and shape policing should take in the absence of any terrorist campaign. Whilst he recognised the need for some sort of reform to the RUC, Annesley made it clear he was not prepared to countenance any sort of radical change that would involve the breakup of the force. In the wake of the ending of the IRA ceasefire in February 1996, he found himself having to reverse some of the measures that had been taken and to once again increase security measures. Following his announcement in May 1996 that he intended to retire in November 1996, Annesley's final months in office were marred by a series of problems which led to some calling for his resignation. To begin with his relations with the NIPA deteriorated initially over the future size of the RUC and in July 1996 he faced widespread criticism for his decision to reverse the ban imposed on an Orange Order march proceeding down the Garvaghy Road, Portadown against the wishes of local nationalist residents.

Book References:
Elliott, Sydney. and Flackes, W.D. (1999), Northern Ireland: A Political Directory 1968-1999. Belfast: Blackstaff Press.
Ryder, Chris. (2000), The RUC 1922-2000: A Force Under Fire. London: Arrow.
Web Sources:
http://www.nics.gov.uk/press/ruc/29may96.htm
[Entry written by B.Lynn - 29 October 2002]


Atkins, Humphrey Edward Gregory (Life Peerage 1987) (b.12 August 1922)
Politician; Conservative Party MP; Secretary of State for Northern Ireland May 1979 - September 1981

Humphrey Atkins was educated at Wellington School before joining the Royal Navy in 1940. In 1943 won promotion to the rank of lieutenant. Resigned from the service in 1948 and first entered politics in 1950 when he was returned to the House of Commons as the MP for Merton and Morden (1950-70), and then the constituency of Spelthorne (1970-87). His early career was marked by promotions to a number of junior ministerial positions. Following the return of the Conservative Party to power at Westminster in May 1979 Atkins was then appointed as Secretary of State for Northern Ireland (1979-81).

His time in office was to be largely dominated by the Republican hunger strikes of 1980 and 1981 in which he followed the hard line approach adopted by the government led by Margaret Thatcher, then Prime Minister. As a result Atkins refused to consider granting any of the demands on which the protest was based and refused to countenance direct negotiations to try to solve the crisis. This was by no means however the only problem to be faced and from the outset he found himself having to deal with the ongoing Irish Republican Army (IRA) campaign. As well in line with his party's commitment to try to restore some form of devolved power to Northern Ireland he launched two new initiatives. The first began in 1980 with the publication of a government white paper, 'Proposals for Further Discussions', and Atkins organised a Constitutional Conference at Stormont to facilitate talks between the main political parties. Little progress was made however and the situation had not been helped by the decision of the largest Unionist party, the Ulster Unionist Party (UUP), to refuse to take part. A year later in 1981, he proposed the establishment of an advisory council consisting of MPs, MEPs along with other public representatives, to assist the Secretary of State to govern Northern Ireland. At the same time Atkins also participated in the other key political development of the early 1980s when he was involved in efforts to encourage progress by way of a series of meetings between the British and Irish governments. These had got underway in December 1980 in a fresh attempt to improve the strained relationship between the authorities in Dublin and London and to further assist with this process, a number of joint studies were set up in order to try come with agreed positions on matters. This included topics such as security, economic cooperation, and new governmental structures for Northern Ireland.

By means of a British cabinet reshuffle in September 1981 he became deputy Foreign Secretary but within a year had been forced to resign after criticism of this department's handling of affairs running up to the Falklands crisis of 1982. His long service to politics was recognised in 1983 with a knighthood and this was followed in 1987 when he was awarded a life peerage after announcing his intention to retire as an MP at the next general election. Later that year he took his seat in the House of Lords as Lord Colnbrook and from (1990-94) was chair of the Association of Conservative Peers.

Book References:
Arthur, Paul.(2000), Special relationships : Britain, Ireland and the Northern Ireland Problem. Belfast: Blackstaff.
Arthur, Paul. and Jeffrey Keith, (1996) Northern Ireland since 1968. Oxford: Blackwell.
Elliott, Sydney. and Flackes, W.D. (1999), Northern Ireland: A Political Directory 1968-1999. Belfast: Blackstaff Press.
[Entry written by B.Lynn - 29 October 2002]


Attwood, ('Alex') Alexander (b. 26 April 1959)
Politician; Social Democratic and Labour Party (SDLP) MLA

Alex Attwood was educated at St Malachy's College, Belfast and Queen's University Belfast, where he served as President of the Students' Union between 1982-83, before graduating with a law degree and later worked as a solicitor. Having joined the Social Democratic and Labour Party (SDLP) Attwood was first elected to Belfast City Council (1985-present), and has served as the party's leader on the council (1993-95 and 1997-present). He was also nominated by the SDLP as one of its members on the Forum for Peace and Reconciliation in Dublin in 1994 and was a member of the party's negotiation team during the multi-party talks at Stormont (1996-98). In addition he has been a member of the Northern Ireland Forum (1996-98) as well as the Northern Ireland Assembly MLA (1998-present) for West Belfast. At the Westminster general election of May 2001 he unsuccessfully stood for the constituency of West Belfast. As his party's spokesperson on policing matters, Attwood was one of three members of the SDLP to take their seats on the Northern Ireland Policing Board (NIPB) in October 2001.

Book References:
Elliott, Sydney. and Flackes, W.D. (1999), Northern Ireland: A Political Directory 1968-1999. Belfast: Blackstaff Press.
Web Sources:
http://www.sdlp.ie/
http://www.ni-assembly.gov.uk/members/biogs/aattwood.htm
http://www.nipolicingboard.org.uk/our%20people/attwood.htm
[Entry written by B.Lynn - 29 October 2002]


Notes:
The information has been compiled from numerous primary and secondary sources.
The best general sources for additional information are:
  • Elliott, Sydney. and Flackes, W.D. (1999), Northern Ireland: A Political Directory, 1968-1999. Belfast: Blackstaff Press.
  • McRedmond, Louis. (ed.) (1998), Modern Irish Lives: Dictionary of 20th-century Biography. Dublin: Gill & Macmillan.
  • Ramsden, John. (ed.) (2002), The Oxford Companion to Twentieth-Century British Politics. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
    For related and background information see also:
  • The list of acronyms associated with 'the Troubles'
  • The glossary of terms related to the conflict
  • The abstracts on prominent organisations
  • The chronology of the conflict

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