Internment 1970? July 1, 2015Posted by guestposter in Uncategorized.
A very welcome post from Brian Hanley.
On Friday 4 December 1970 Jack Lynch announced that his government were about to introduce internment without trial. He claimed this was in response to information that a paramilitary group were about to assassinate or kidnap politicians and civil servants. (The group involved was presumed to be Saor Éire.) While most of the media reported a general sense of incredulity that such a measure was necessary, government sources were adamant that the threat from a ‘secret armed conspiracy’ was credible. It was suggested that Saor Éire were targeting either the Minister for Justice Des O’Malley, Peter Berry of the Department of Justice or Chief Superintendent John Fleming of the Special Branch. Reports that the Curragh camp had been reopened and that lists of potential internees drawn up were soon in circulation. A wave of Garda raids on republican and left-wing activists during December were seen as dry-runs for an eventual round-up of suspects.
Internment had last been implemented between 1957-59 under a Fianna Fáil administration determined to prevent the IRA from utilizing the republic for its campaign in the North. Special courts had been introduced in late 1961 to deal with a resurgence of the same campaign and the general view in government circles was that these measures had been effective. However the situation in late 1970 was different in several ways. The crisis in Northern Ireland had escalated during the year: 27 people there died violently in a 12-month period that saw the Falls Curfew and the Battle of St. Matthews, along with numerous riots and a series of unclaimed bomb blasts. While public opinion in the south was not as enthusiastically nationalist as it had been in August 1969, there was still widespread sympathy with northern Catholics. Though the Gardaí had raided several alleged IRA training camps during the winter, there was still a sense that as long as they avoided confrontation with state forces republicans would have some leeway to operate. However worries about the conflict ‘spilling over’ were intensified in April 1970 when Garda Richard Fallon was shot dead during a robbery in Dublin, reputedly by Saor Éire members. The Arms Trial, with allegations of gunrunning and plots by ministers to intervene militarily in the North took place the following month and some observers noted a cooling of the public’s interest in the northern issue.
Nevertheless the government’s intention to introduce internment provoked initial shock, followed by outrage. Most commentators felt that the threat, even if credible, hardly justified such a measure, the Irish Times warning that ‘internment camps mean a step on the road to dictatorship.’ The Irish Press on the other hand, while expressing ‘surprise and puzzlement’ nevertheless considered that while ‘we live in a world of hijackings, in a country in which there is a tradition of not recognising the courts, intimidating jurors and, above all, not giving evidence against political defendants…some such recourse as detention camps is inevitable if distasteful. We can only hope that in the present instance such recourse will eventually prove to be unnecessary.’ However republicans, the left, the labour movement and civil liberties groups were all united in opposition. Northern critics, from Paddy Devlin of the SDLP to Michael Farrell of Peoples Democracy noted that internment in the south would only embolden the Unionist government in its use of repression north of the border. (Indeed the Reverend Martin Smyth of the Orange Order applauded Lynch’s proposal). As protests grew, Eamonn McCann and Bernadette Devlin, along with Official Sinn Féin’s Máirín de Burca, Labour’s John Horgan and solicitor Con Lehane were among those who addressed a rally of 1,000 people at the Dáil. Walkouts and ‘teach-ins’ took place in several universities and leading trade unionists forcibly expressed their opposition. During a debate about the measure on RTE’s Féach Tomas Mac Giolla walked out of the studio because of the exclusion from the discussion of his Provisional counterpart Ruairí Ó Brádaigh. The government refused to allow a special debate about the issue in the Dáil and four Labour TDs were suspended from Leinster House for protesting about this. Party leader Brendan Corish alleged that Fianna Fáil wanted a ‘police state’ while Limerick TD Steven Coughlan warned that ‘the Taoiseach knows where this is going to end, in hunger strikes and civil war. Be it on the Taoiseach’s head.’ Noel Browne called for the unions to take industrial action in protest while Conor Cruise O’Brien was verbally and physically accosted by Fianna Fáil TDs. Noting O’Brien’s stance approvingly, Hibernia’s Proinsias Mac Aonghusa wrote that ‘part of the (Fianna Fáil) hatred for Dr. O’Brien is based on the fact that he can expose to the world just what is going on here.’ At local level there was some evidence of unease in Fianna Fáil’s ranks but party discipline held together impressively in Leinster House itself. Fine Gael meanwhile, were put in the perplexing position of having to oppose a repressive measure aimed at republicans which many in the party were emotionally predisposed to support (just two years later they would face the same choice in more dramatic circumstances). While most of those who opposed the government suggested that its claims about imminent armed threats were fantasy, Saor Éire themselves reacted by asserting that they might indeed just do what the government alleged they were planning to do.
Political sniping about internment continued for a few weeks but soon the issue disappeared from the political agenda. Peter Berry later alleged that the affair had been a ploy by Fianna Fáil to win votes in the Donegal-Leitrim by-election. There was a substantial Protestant minority in the constituency (as many as 4,000 voters in some accounts) and it was presumed that they would react favourably on harsh measures aimed at republicans. Like many great Irish political yarns, Berry’s theory doesn’t stand up to close examination. The by-election (which Fianna Fail won comfortably) took place on 2 December and the prospect of internment was not publicly aired until two days later. However in January 1986 Des O’Malley provided a more interesting explantion. In an interview with Fintan O’Toole for Magill magazine, O’Malley was asked why he had ever contemplated such a drastic measure. O’Malley responded that the Gardaí had information that Saor Éire were planning something dramatic. But they were also aware that neither of the two IRA organizations wanted a state clampdown. By signaling that they were going to introduce internment the government hoped that the larger paramilitaries might try to head off such a threat by neutralizing Saor Éire themselves. So O’Malley argued, the government would ‘threaten to do it (introduce internment) and convey to a much more sizeable subversive organisation the fact that we were considering that and let them exert pressure to see that this matter didn’t happen. It wouldn’t have suited the more sizeable organisation. And that’s the way it worked, and it did work.’ (In his recent biography O’Malley repeats a version of this story while emphasizing that the measure was aimed only at Saor Éire.)
That an Irish government led by Jack Lynch (the saviour of Irish democracy according to many historians and commentators) would gamble on large republican paramilitary organizations being willing to threaten smaller republican organizations is revealing to say the least. Given that this would presumbly have involved threats and/or actual violence and that Saor Éire might respond in kind does not seem to have troubled Lynch. The episode has been largely ignored by historians. An exception is a thesis on political violence completed at UCD during the 1990s. Among those interviewed for the study was an unnamed Provisional IRA Chief of Staff, easily indentifiable as Seán Mac Stíofáin. In response to a query about the threat of internment in the republic, Mac Stíofáin claimed that he had ‘sent two people to the two people in Saor Éire. I said ‘look if your people are responsible for internment down here you’re all dead.’* While far from conclusive (and Saor Éire presumbly would have a different interpretation of this incident) this does suggest that government thinking may not have been too wide of the mark.
When internment was introduced north of the border during August 1971, the Unionists were quick to point out that Jack Lynch had threatened the same measure less than a year before. But within a few years a new coalition government in Dublin had become synonomous with repressive powers and Fianna Fáil’s internment threat, like their extension of censorship, was quietly forgotten, not least by themselves. The affair suggests however that anyone trying to understand the southern state’s response to the northern conflict should also examine events from 1969-73 carefully.
© Brian Hanley, July 2015.
* Quoted in P. McGuill, ‘Political Violence in the Republic of Ireland 1969-1997’ MA, UCD, 1998, p. 128.
1 comment so far
The sage of Tallaght considers the latest polls… July 1, 2015Posted by WorldbyStorm in Irish Politics.
Pat Rabbitte addresses the latest polling data in the SBP at the weekend. Perhaps inevitably he’s most interested in the plight of the Labour Party.
That will concern the party because, as the smaller partner serving in government, there are few opportunities to be distinctly seen as the author of a popular measure. And there are several opportunities for the party to be blamed as the author of unpopular measures. I have seen research which shows citizens articulating the values that matter for them where Labour is clearly the party that represents those same values, but the citizens concerned don’t identify them with Labour. If they don’t make the connection, it is a challenge to the party to correct that.
During a period of deep recession when the challenge is to protect the existing social fabric of communities, it is more difficult for Labour to convincingly espouse those values. There is no dividend for stopping bad, or worse, things happening. Hence the different perspectives being argued by some economists and some politicians. The economic analysts are determined that they won’t be caught offside again. The politicians know that talking about macroeconomics cuts no ice with more than half the electorate.
But he suggests that the loss of 3% by SF might be linked to its identification with Syriza. Okay, but surely that would imply that people would then be more likely to vote for Labour (assuming they can’t find it in themselves to vote for FG)? And yet they don’t. He doesn’t address that puzzle.
He does mention the independents though – well, how could he not – though not the smaller parties.
The share of support going nominally to independents remains truly remarkable. When it comes to a general election, the purpose of which is to elect a new government, will a quarter of the Irish electorate actually vote for independent candidates?
At least some of that support is an expression of rejection of all political parties and only in some cases a positive vote for the particular independent candidate. It is for some people their way of saying “a plague on all your houses”. If the outcome of the next general election is that a government can only be formed with the participation of a dozen or so independents, the same people will be doing novenas for the restoration of the party system.
Perhaps. Though, it’s not as if something like it hasn’t happened before. The 1947 election saw 7 Independents support the Inter-Party Coalition, though not be a member of it. 2007 saw a more explicit agreement and although things got ropey once the crisis hit one has to wonder if it might have staggered on in better shape otherwise.
He throws in a near comforting thought for the Government:
Maybe the polls are wrong. The mainstream view following the British general election was that the polls got it wrong. The pollsters themselves engaged in a measure of self-flagellation. I am not so sure. When British voters were staring, day after day, during the campaign at a hung parliament enough of them switched in the polling booths to vote for a definite outcome.
We may yet see something similar.
Though in fairness he has to add:
But there is no sign of it yet.
What you want to say – 1st July 2015 July 1, 2015Posted by WorldbyStorm in Uncategorized.
As always, following on Dr. X’s suggestion, it’s all yours, “announcements, general discussion, whatever you choose”, feel free.
They did it! Greece defaults on IMF July 1, 2015Posted by WorldbyStorm in Uncategorized.
1 comment so far
The International Monetary Fund has confirmed that Greece did not make a €1.5bn repayment due today.
The fund said it received a request from Greece for a repayment extension, which its board would consider in due course.
This is in and of itself remarkable given as the Guardian puts it ‘Greece has become the first advanced economy to fall in arrears to the IMF as its second bailout expires’.
Department store story June 30, 2015Posted by WorldbyStorm in Uncategorized.
add a comment
Intriguing mention in the SBP at the weekend in an article that focused on the new SF Mayor of Dublin. Críona Ní Dhálaigh from the south inner city has stated that she will do all she can for Clery’s staff. No great surprise there, but what of this in relation to another department store:
Meanwhile solicitor Noel Smyth, whose company Fitzwilliam Finance Partners took total control of Arnotts earlier this year, plans to meet union leaders next week to reassure them that he remains committed to the business. Denis O’Brien’s long-term public relations guru James Morrissey is advising Smyth.
‘Public relations guru’? Really? Really?
A number of new candidate were announced by The Shane Ross chaired Independent Alliance yesterday.
There were some interesting names among them with a number of decent prospects for seats.
Early days yet but you’d think Carol Hunt would find it difficult to win in the effective 3 seat Dun Laoghaire. That said the only sure thing here is that there will be a Fine Gael seat.
Tuam based Sean Canney in Galway East has a good chance, he polled 5,567 votes in the 2011 Election and once again topped the poll in the Local Elections. Has a decent chance.
Niamh Kennedy topped the poll in the local elections and is highly thought of. Geography is also on her side as currently there are no candidates in her locality. Donegal will be hotly contested but again in with a chance of a seat, possibly at the expense of Thomas Pringle.
Kevin ‘Boxer’ Moran is another one who polled well at the last election, the Longford Westmeath By Election and also the Local Elections. Moran is an ex FFer and there is currently a row in FF over running an Athlone based candidate. Were FF to run just a Longford based candidate along with Robert Troy then Moran who is Athlone based would be well placed.
Kevin Callan , a councillor who was elected for Fine Gael in 2014, will be running in Louth. Not a great chance of taking a seat.
Deirdre O’Donovan was one of a number of Ross endorsed candidates elected at the Local Elections polling over 1500 votes in Rathfarnham. She is running in Dublin South West, she may do well but will be hampered by the fact that five of the six councillors elected for Rathfarnham in 2011 will be running in Dublin South West.
We’ll see who else will nail their colours to the Ross mast….
Re this Alliance, I can see whats in it for Ross and the other ccurrent TD’s, in that they fancy being in government…. but what’s the point of being an Independent Alliance ‘backbencher’ ? You might have access to a Minister, but surely you are just lobby fodder like most backbenchers?
1 comment so far
Greece is expected to default on its debt to the International Monetary Fund and see its bailout deal expire later today.
By falling into arrears on its IMF debt it will mean it can no longer borrow from the fund.
It’s an abysmal situation – and there are no real upsides – but SYRIZA has pretty much done what it said it would do. And this is interesting too, Tsipras talking last night:
“The greater the number of no [votes], the greater the weapon the government will have to relaunch negotiations. Greece never left the negotiating table, it is still at the negotiating table. ”
Appearing by turns combative and nervous, the 40-year-old leader suggested, for the first time, that he and his radical left Syriza party would resign if the yes vote triumphed in the referendum.
“We will respect the result but we will not be there to serve it,” he told the station.
Where does this go next?
Getting the digs into Greece… June 30, 2015Posted by WorldbyStorm in European Politics, Irish Politics.
Pat Leahy has another excellent piece in the SBP at the weekend which asks why is the Irish government so keen to criticise Athens? In some ways it is not a huge puzzle. Despite a nominally social democratic component the instincts of this government are reliably right of centre on economic thinking (it has been breath-taking, albeit not exactly a revelation, just how willing the LP has been to accede to the orthodoxy economically. And one has to wonder just what mechanisms or resources inside that party there are to generate thinking on economics?). And given that that reflects European thinking small wonder that they are happy to attach themselves to the overall approach.
This has led to complete absurdities. Leahy notes that the Taoiseach in a bid to be the best European around (I paraphrase) came out with some bizarre stuff:
Last week he said at least two things that required further explanation, to put it kindly.
When asked by reporters if Ireland would support debt relief for Greece, he responded bluntly: “No.”
Officials later clarified that Ireland would indeed support debt reprofiling – or stretching the repayment periods and lowering the interest rate on debt, generally thought to be a form of debt relief. It was debt forgiveness, officials explained, that Ireland would not contemplate.
Kenny also said that Greece should follow Ireland’s example in correcting its public finances with growth-friendly measures. Here, he asserted that Ireland did not raise income tax.
“In Ireland’s case, we did not increase income tax, we did not increase Vat, we did not increase PRSI, but we put up alternatives to those measures proposed in order to keep a pro-growth policy and make our country competitive, grow our economy and provide jobs for our people,” he said.
To which Leahy responds:
Well, perhaps. The rates of income tax might not have been increased. But Ireland certainly increased taxes on income.
Ask everyone who pays the Universal Social Charge.
But as was noted by 6to5against, VAT increased too – in December 2011 from 21 to 23%. But I suppose such details are irrelevant.
Leahy makes the point that Dublin is merely articulating openly an attitude that is held widely in the EU, and he sums it up like so:
The political atmosphere and personal relationships around the Brussels negotiating table are toxic. But that is not the biggest problem. The biggest problem is that the two sides remain divided by issues of substance.
Let Schäuble and Yanis Varoufakis, the Greek finance minister, sum it up.
“We cannot allow any member state to spend money without limit and other member states to be liable for it,” Schäuble said on Friday at a conference in Frankfurt.
The same day, Varoufakis told RTE’s Morning Ireland: “When they say that they want more pro-growth measures, what they effectively are saying is we should reduce the minimum wages, we should reduce the minimum pension further . . .
“To do this in a country where one million families rely on a single pension because everyone else is unemployed, instead of intervening in employer pension contributions, is quite absurd, and it is a proposition that I am simply not prepared to put to my parliament.”
What’s most curious about all this is that we know – indeed the SBP editorial itself argues this – that the EU/IMF approaches are futile in relation to Greece, that they cannot work economically and that what is asked of that state and its citizens is both impossible and counterproductive.
The editorial says:
The Greek people have endured massive austerity, and it has not worked, because their economy is nowhere near as open as Ireland’s is, and is without the basic tax-gathering structures to be able to balance the books as we have.
Their negotiating positions have, at times, been unfortunate and haven’t worked out. But precisely the same thing can be said of Ireland.
And yet, on it goes. Testing the EU and the eurozone to breaking point, and perhaps beyond. And to what purpose? It is impossible not, now, to regard this as ideological and political masked as the inevitable. As and when that latter is demonstrated to be manifestly incorrect one can only assume the ramifications will be considerable.
SF’s Críona Ní Dhálaigh and Independent Cieran Perry elected Lord Mayor and Deputy Lord Mayor of Dublin June 29, 2015Posted by WorldbyStorm in Uncategorized.
All this on foot of a pact between SF/LP/GP and most Independents. And look here…
Cllr O’Callaghan said he was running because Fianna Fáil should have a candidate for the position given the “historic” events next year.
He said he feared that Sinn Féin were going to “hijack” the centenary celebrations.