Recently there has been much comment in the media about the need to talk to dissident republicans.� Should the government enter into discussions, formal or informal, direct or indirect, with dissident republicans?� Some commentators have argued that it is a good thing to do but have failed to produce any substantial evidence or argument.� In that context it is perhaps worthwhile reflecting on what happened in 1972.�

There was a�secret meetings between the IRA and MI6 in Northern Ireland and these led on to another secret�meeting between two IRA representatives, David O'Connell and Gerry Adams, Frank Steele of MI6 and Philip John Woodfield of the Northern Ireland Office.� The IRA demanded that Adams, who was interned at the time, be released for the meeting.

This paved the way for another secret meeting but this time�with the Conservative Secretary of State, William Whitelaw, in London.� This took place in the home of another senior Conservative politician, Paul Channon and the IRA was represented by Sean MacStiofain, David O'Connell, Seamus Twomey, Ivor Bell, Gerry Adams and�Martin McGuinness and Mac Stiofain later confirmed that all the representatives were members of the IRA.�
The meeting took place on 7 July and just a few weeks later, on 31 July, the IRA placed three car bombs in the little village of Claudy and murdered nine civilians.