A question on the IRA, the CPI and the USSR in 1969 December 28, 2012Posted by WorldbyStorm in History, Irish History, Irish Politics, The Left.
Reading Making the Difference? The Irish Labour Party 1912-2012, and in particular a piece by Eunan O’Halpin on Labour and the Making of Irish Foreign Policy, I was struck by the following paragraph.
Writing about Communist Party influence on the Soviets in the 1960s onwards he writes [p143];
There is evidence of Irish Communist unilateralism in response to the Northern Ireland crisis – for instance in 1969 Michael O’Riordain made a direct appeal to the Soviet Union for arms and money, which he believed would enable him to bring a faction of republican activists led by the energetic Seamus Costello under his control to further wider revolutionary aims.
The footnote links to page 141 of Hanley and Miller’s The Lost Revolution. On that page they note that in August 1969 ‘the race for weapons was on and any and every source was utilised’.
They write in reference to O’Riordain:
Goulding and Costello approached Mick O’Riordan and asked if the Soviet Union would provide weapons. Costello was to organise a trawler crewed by ‘select and reliable’ IRA members who would pick up the shipment in neutral waters. During November O’Riordain informed the Soviets that the IRA’s ‘combat potential’ had been weakened by its concentration on ‘social protests and educational activity’. It needed weapons urgently. O’Riordain optimistically requested 2,000 AK-47 assault riflers and 150 machine guns along with over a million rounds of ammunition. But the Soviets were not inclined to supply arms at short notice to an unknown quantity like the IRA. KGB chief Yuri Andropov insisted that if arms were to be supplied then the ‘secret of their source of supply’ had to be preserved. meanwhile the United Irishman launched a ‘Dynamite Fund’, aimed at Irish America, arguing ‘bandages are not enough, defence is needed’.
Interesting to see another mention of a trawler in relation to the IRA (though is this the same trawler as the one mentioned in relation to the OIRA some time later?). But more importantly these seem to be somewhat differing interpretations of these events. Anyone have any further information on this idea of O’Riordain seeking control of a faction of SF or IRA activists?