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Speaking of the Arms Crisis September 16, 2020

Posted by WorldbyStorm in Uncategorized.

There’s a review in the current/last edition of History Ireland of The Arms Crisis of 1970: The Plot that Never Was by Michael Heney. The book argues that Lynch had a ‘hidden policy’ of supplying arms to nationalists in the North ‘in emergencies’ for ‘defensive and humanitarian purposes’ should a civil war break out and the British Army not protect that community. An interesting tacit acceptance that no Irish Army could project its power very much north of the border at the time.

But a point is made in the review by Thomas Leahy that resonates with me. In it he argues that the Arms Crisis was effectively an ‘attempt by Lynch to protect his government’. But that…

…it also implicitly signalled to beleaguered nationalists in the North that the Irish State would do exactly what Lynch said it would not do in August 1969; stand idly by. Heney explains that his sense of desertion contributed to a sizeable minority of northern nationalists turning towards the IRA. Perhaps this is the principal (even if unintended) legacy of the Arms Crisis.

I’d tend to agree. A power vacuum had opened up – or become manifest. The state in the North had proven itself entirely unable to protect nationalist interests at crucial junctures. The South was disinterested or deeply anxious about any involvement. Political means forward seemed blocked in various ways, whichever options posited stymied by events such as the UWC strike, etc. Small wonder that a tranche of people decided to look towards those asserting their rights, in whatever manner they could. And this has made me deeply sceptical of the Harris school of chiding, and worse, nationalists who could quite reasonably say they were effectively abandoned by the South and whose options were remarkably limited.


1. Roger Cole - September 16, 2020

The Northern Ireland state was just a small part of the British Imperialist State. The core function of 6 county state established in 1921 by the British Imperial state was ensure six counties of Ireland remained part of the British Empire and was more than happy to support a perpetual one party rule by Protestants as long as they remained loyal to the Empire. My father was a member of the dismissed first jury, and he told me that it was obvious that it had been a government decision to supply weapons if necessary to Catholics if the Protestant led pogroms continued,and he would have found Haughey and the others innocent, as the 2nd jury did. The armed struggle grew out of an understandable anger, but an anger devoid of politics, regardless of the result of the trial. I have always believed that anger was deliberately fed by the British Imperial State via terrorist activities such as Bloody Sunday.

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