Former Secretary of State Peter Hain has said he felt physically threatened by Sinn Féin leaders Gerry Adams and Martin McGuinness during the tense negotiations leading up to IRA decommissioning.
He also said Ian Paisley told him he would have been "skinned alive" if he had made a deal with Sinn Féin in the aftermath of the Northern Bank robbery and murder of Robert McCartney by IRA members.
Mr Hain makes his claims in his new autobiography, out today (Jan 23).
His memoirs give a fascinating insight into the horse trading and intrigue that brought about decommissioning and power sharing.
When Mr Hain took up post in May 2005 the IRA was on ceasefire, but the peace, which depended on a political deal between Sinn Féin and the DUP, looked fragile.
Attacks on the security forces had stopped, but the Independent Monitoring Commission was reporting continuing criminal activity and so-called punishment attacks from all the main paramilitaries, whose arsenals remained intact.
The DUP was still reeling from the shock of the Northern Bank robbery the previous December, the biggest cash heist in Irish history.
None of the political players believed the IRA's denials over the robbery.
Then had come the murder of Robert McCartney by a gang of IRA members outside a Belfast bar who subsequently covered up evidence in the killing.
The political impact was deep.
The DUP had been close to a deal with Sinn Féin before the robbery, but now their confidence was shaken, as emerged in a private conversation when Mr Paisley asked Mr Hain: "How can I trust them again?"
The DUP leader told him: "We had made real progress towards an agreement around the comprehensive proposals, then, weeks later, they go and do that.
"Just as well we did not get an agreement or I would have been skinned alive."
Hain saw his problem and spent most of his term as Secretary of State, which ended in June 2007, trying to unravel this knot.
He describes a process of coaxing, bribing and threatening the two parties into government together.
At times Sinn Féin threatened him.
He recalls squeezing into a "small box-like room" in Hillsborough Castle for a private chat with Gerry Adams and Martin McGuinness.
"They aggressively insisted that my pressure upon them risked sabotaging the whole process, and they would ensure my role as Secretary of State was terminated by refusing to deal with me.
"Although the incident was physically threatening, I politely and calmly stood my ground and they departed without the usual friendly 'God bless'," he wrote.
Mr Hain's hand as Secretary of State was probably strengthened because Tony Blair was preoccupied with Iraq, which Sinn Féin advised him against invading, and the al-Qaida threat to Britain.
Unlike some of this predecessors Mr Hain was allowed to attend all Prime Ministerial meetings with Sinn Féin and he said Tony Blair backed him at every juncture, despite occasional misgivings.
The breakthrough came in July 2005 when the IRA committed itself to "exclusively peaceful means" and pledged to decommission its weapons.
Actual decommissioning was completed two months later.
However, the DUP still held out because neither an inventory of weapons nor photographs of the deed were provided.
Mr Hain reveals that he used tactics like threatening to introduce water rates, remove academic selection and reform of the law on homosexuality as levers to speed the DUP into government.
He seems to have been unwittingly encouraged in the tactic by Dr Paisley who told him that when he met voters on the doorstep: "All they want to talk about is your water charges! They just want us to get into government and put an end to them."
The payoff came in March 2007 when the DUP finally entered power sharing with Sinn Féin and the other parties.
It happened on Mr Hain's watch, but he feels he didn't get enough of the credit, and now we have his side of the story.