The Making of The Anglo-Irish Agreement of 1985

A Memoir by David Goodall

Frank Sheridan, editor

Catalogue Price: €7.99
Reduced from €20.00
ISBN: 978-0-901510-87-7
Catalogue Price: €35.00
ISBN: 978-0-901510-86-0

July 2021. 244pp. Colour Ills (and Black & White)

"Goodall (was) the perfect diplomat, virtually unknown to the public while his work was taking shape. Now we have this short posthumous memoir about the negotiations between the British and Irish governments in the two years before the Anglo-Irish Agreement. It will be indispensable for historians, not just for the account of the big chess game of the negotiations, but for the pithy descriptions of the players ... Goodall was an astute observer of people and a beautiful writer." Malachi O'Doherty, The Sunday Times

"The Making of the Anglo-Irish Agreement of 1985 – a memoir by David Goodall, gives, for the first time, an insider’s account of the protracted, tense and ultimately fruitful negotiation … His elegantly written, highly personal account is gripping and frequently astonishing in its frankness. It is, in short, fascinating … Goodall’s memoir describes how, with the persistence and patience of negotiators on both sides that an almost improbable conclusion was reached – the treaty was signed." Mal Rogers, The Irish Post

"Garret FitzGerald did not often use racy language. Negotiating the 1985 Anglo-Irish Agreement with Margaret Thatcher, however, was enough to make even the genteel Fine Gael Taoiseach occasionally lose his rag. 'I know that British ministers think their word is their bond,' he once exclaimed, according to this memoir by the senior Whitehall civil servant David Goodall. 'But if I were to give Mrs Thatcher a full-frontal view of what Irish nationalism thinks of a British minister’s word, she’d be more shocked than if I gave her a full-frontal view of something else!' FitzGerald was not to know that Goodall was faithfully recording such outbursts in a diary, which he later used as the basis for a full-blown narrative about the agreement. Like all good diplomats, he was wary of embarrassing anyone and made no attempt to publish it in his lifetime … Goodall’s blow-by-blow account of how the eight-page Agreement came together fully bears this out, making clear that both sides sweated over every single word. It takes the reader through a gruelling series of tense, alcohol-fuelled discussions, occasionally disrupted by episodes such as Thatcher’s notorious 'out, out, out' dismissal of Irish suggestions … Thankfully, Goodall provides some shrewd pen-portraits and anecdotes to break up the technical details. FitzGerald was bemused by the fact that Thatcher often called him 'Gareth', complaining to her officials in private, 'Does she think I’m Welsh?' She suspected the author of being too sympathetic to Ireland and at one point asked, 'Mr Goodall, wouldn’t you like to go and be an ambassador somewhere else – a long way away?' … Thatcher ended up regarding the whole affair as perhaps her biggest mistake, telling FitzGerald, 'You got the glory and I got the problems.' Goodall, on the other hand, came to believe it was the greatest achievement of his professional life. 'It could gradually drain some bitterness out of the British-Irish relationship,' he optimistically concluded, 'and create the basic geometry for an eventual settlement.' This sober, intelligent and historically valuable memoir suggests that he was much closer to the truth." Andrew Lynch, The Sunday Business Post

“THIS book gives a lively account, by one of the leading diplomats on the British side, of the origins and negotiation of the 1985 Anglo Irish Agreement. It is well written and a valuable contribution to history. It also gives a searing insight into Mrs Thatcher’s governing style from the perspective of someone who had to work with her … it was a stormy process. Mrs Thatcher was difficult to brief and hard to keep on topic. David Goodall describes her ‘eclectic and discontinuous style of argument”, and how she often adopted a “hectoring and tangential mode, both confusing and dominating the discussion’.” John Bruton, The Irish Examiner

“Written between 1992 and 1998, Sir David Goodall’s personal memoir of the high-level negotiations between Dublin and London that led to the Anglo-Irish Agreement in November 1985 should be compulsory reading for those in Whitehall and Westminster dealing with Ireland in the 2020s. Honest, and often mischievously written, but never ill-considered, Goodall pithily conveys the deadly seriousness of the Troubles in Northern Ireland in the post-Hunger Strike years, the grimness of continued killing in the province, the brutality of IRA terrorism and terrorist murders, and the apparent absence of a political way forward towards peace in Northern Ireland as the mid-1980s began … In a way Goodall’s memoir is negotiation from a bygone age. There is no deference to social media as there was none, in an age before rolling news the media is distant to the process under discussion. There are leaks, there are press conferences and there are interviews, but the need to kow-tow to the media cycle is absent. The need is for progress and momentum to be kept so as to reach an agreed outcome, not so as to satisfy the front pages. Whilst the reader knows the outcome of the memoir and may even have studied the 1985 Agreement Goodall helped broker, the memoir keeps the suspense building because of the way it dramatically, though in a very understated way, captures the twists and turns of the negotiating process to keep the reader on the edge of their seat wondering from where the next twist or turn in the narrative is going to arise as the reader edges towards the signing ceremony in Hillsborough Castle to the south of Belfast on 15 November 1985 … There is a Smileyesque politeness and a quiet, sure-footed, calmness redolent of Smiley to this memoir. The memoir’s imagery of quiet canal-side talks between high-level officials, visits to hotspots in Northern Ireland, inconspicuous backchannels, and the navigation of the corridors of power will also bring George Smiley to mind. And in episodes in the text too the secret diplomacy of a le Carré thriller emerges … Though set in the tough and unforgiving terrain of British-Irish relations during the Troubles, Sir David Goodall’s memoir is a ‘must-read’ for anyone interested in the complexities of human interplay, the hard bargaining and cut-and-thrust of diplomacy and the practice of international relations. Although we know the outcome, it remains a cliff-hanger read to the end as last-minute sticking-points, difficulties and concerns appear from left-field to be met and overcome ... Read against the backdrop of the climate of British-Irish relations in 2022, Sir David’s memoir is deeply refreshing reading that gives hope for better times ahead.” Michael Kennedy, Society

“a frequent contributor over many years, Tablet readers will not be surprised by the eloquence, insight and good humour of his private memoir of the tussle between history, temperament and political calculation in the negotiations between Thatcher and FitzGerald”. The Tablet, 31 July 2021

“The Anglo-Irish Agreement was the first and crucial step towards the later Good Friday Agreement and tenuous peace in Northern Ireland. To achieve it Margaret Thatcher put to one side her instincts, loyalties and friendships because she was convinced the Agreement was the only way to end the bleak cycle of deprivation and violence in the North. David Goodall was one of the key British officials involved. His private and hitherto unpublished account of the tug-of-war between history, emotion and political calculation in the negotiations between Margaret Thatcher and Garret FitzGerald illuminates an epic piece of diplomacy.” Charles Powell, Private Secretary to Prime Minister, Margaret Thatcher 1983–1990

“FitzGerald was a veteran on Northern Ireland policy: Thatcher was a relative newcomer – and a chameleon. She could be fickle and brittle on the subject, often unreadable. How and why she signed the Anglo-Irish Agreement of 1985 was a mystery to some, perhaps even to herself. David Goodall’s enthralling and sometimes waspish account reveals how it was that a small group of mandarins changed the tectonic plates of the Irish-British relationship and opened the door to a more peaceful and interdependent future. It is essential to an understanding of Anglo-Irish relations before 1985 – and since.” Dr John Bowman, Author of De Valera and the Ulster Question, 1917–1973

“I think both of us thought that this [the negotiation of the Anglo-Irish Agreement] was the best thing we had done or were likely to do in our careers.” Robert Armstrong, Former UK Cabinet Secretary and lead British negotiator, from a letter written to Lady Goodall, 8 November 2018

“The National University of Ireland conferred an honorary degree on Sir David Goodall in 2015 in recognition of his significant role in making the 1985 Anglo-Irish Agreement a reality. We are honoured to have been entrusted with the publication of his memoir. We are also pleased to publish this memoir in which our fourth Chancellor, my predecessor, the late Dr Garret FitzGerald is such a central figure. The Anglo-Irish Agreement was the high point of his political career, the greatest of his many achievements and something which we in NUI are proud to honour through this publication.” Dr Maurice Manning, Chancellor, National University of Ireland