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Irish Leader Targeted for Death, Papers Say

September 21, 1987|From Times Wire Services

DUBLIN, Ireland — Protestant assassins plan to kill Irish Prime Minister Charles Haughey and set off bombs in Dublin in a campaign against an agreement to bring peace to British-ruled Northern Ireland, it was reported Sunday.

The reports, carried in British and Irish newspapers, came as British police conducted an unprecedented security operation to guard British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher against a reported plot by the outlawed Irish Republican Army to assassinate her at the Conservative Party conference next month.

Irish police gave no details of the plot against Haughey but confirmed they are investigating.

"We are taking this information seriously," a police spokesman said. "There have been no arrests but inquiries are in their initial stages. We cannot discuss it further because it hinges on security matters."

Haughey appeared to ignore the reported threat. He went to the Croke Park stadium in Dublin to greet players in the All-Ireland Gaelic Football (soccer) Final, one of the republic's big sporting events of the year.

Asked if detectives had tightened their protective net around Haughey for the game, the police spokesman said: "There is an adequate security there."

The newspapers, citing security sources, said the Ulster Defense Assn.--a Protestant paramilitary group fighting for continued Protestant dominance in Northern Ireland--plans to kill Haughey and Irish Foreign Minister Brian Lenihan to mark the second anniversary of the Anglo-Irish agreement.

But association leader Andy Tyrie in Belfast described the reports as "a load of rubbish."

"It is just ridiculous. It is nothing but fantasy," he said. "There has never been anything like that happening here so why should it start now?"

In 1974, suspected Protestant radicals set off car bombs in Dublin and an Irish border town, killing 27 people, in an apparent plot to undermine an earlier peace agreement. The power-sharing plan, also opposed by a general Protestant strike, collapsed 11 days later.

The latest agreement, signed Nov. 15, 1985, gives the mainly Roman Catholic Irish Republic an advisory role in governing mostly Protestant Northern Ireland to safeguard the rights of the 600,000-member Catholic minority. The province's 900,000 Protestants are opposed to the pact, claiming it is the first step of a British pullout and eventual rule by Dublin.

Meanwhile, police in the northwest English city of Blackpool checked all hotels and guest houses for an IRA squad reportedly sent to Britain to kill Thatcher at the party conference in October.

The IRA--fighting to end British rule in Northern Ireland and unite it with the Irish Republic--narrowly missed assassinating Thatcher in a bomb blast at party's 1984 conference where five people were killed.

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