LONDON, March 17 (UPI) -- A top official in the Tony Blair administration said the former English prime minister held secret meetings with the Irish Republican Army on peace deals.
Jonathan Powell, the chief of staff for Blair, said in his latest book that Blair held secret meetings with IRA leaders in an effort to save the Belfast Agreement of April 10, 1998.
The Belfast Agreement, or Good Friday Agreement, was set up to get the IRA to decommission its weapons and in exchange for independent leaders for Northern Ireland.
Powell says Blair met with Sinn Fein President Gerry Adams to discuss disarming the armed faction of the IRA despite opposition from Seamus Mallon of the nationalist Social Democratic and Labor Party in Ireland who was a strong opponent of the IRA, The Guardian reported Monday.
"Seamus Mallon's complaint is that we talked to Sinn Fein because they had the guns. My answer to that is: 'Yes and your point is?' Powell said.
Powell said Blair offered Adams a secret deal to release IRA prisoners and Powell himself claims to held a series of meetings with the Sinn Fein president IRA leader Martin McGuiness.
Powell served as Blair's chief of staff from 1995 until Blair stepped down in June.