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The word ‘clarification’ bounced back and forth in the game of semantics versus reality, the perpetual hallmark of Anglo-Irish relations.

Its terms have come to be a guarantor of peace – or as near to it as Northern Ireland ever comes – for 20 years. Yet the lessons of history are repeatedly forgotten, or disregarded by those who find them inconvenient for their present circumstances.

But opposition from his own party’s right wing meant only a Labour prime minister could carry it through to fruition.

April 2018, with an uncertain Brexit hovering over the graveyards, is an apposite moment to recall the grim origins of the ‘peace process’, which lie in part in a particularly gory incident on the streets of Belfast that brought home to the British public the horror that most have since preferred to forget.

Reid orchestrated secret meetings at Clonard Monastery on the ‘peace line’ in Belfast, where the 20ft-high wall had a statue of the Virgin Mary on one side and a ‘No Surrender’ mural on the other.

The IRA top command had started to realise they might not convince the British government to ‘sell out’ the wishes of nearly one million citizens in Northern Ireland at the barrel of a gun.

The slogan ‘Armalite in one hand and ballot box in the other’, coined by Danny Morrison in 1981, was being called into question.

On the other hand, Peter Brooke, British Secretary of State for Northern Ireland between 19, admitted military defeat of the IRA was ‘difficult to envisage’.

Still, many at the top of the IRA now believed London’s insistence – communicated publicly by Brooke – that it laid no claim to the six counties other than respecting the wishes of a majority of its people.