jump to navigation

Arms Crisis… even more… September 18, 2020

Posted by WorldbyStorm in Uncategorized.

Here’s a review by Brian Hanley of Michael Heney’s The Arms Crisis of 1970 – The Plot That Never Was, mentioned yesterday in a post. The conclusion of which is that:

[the] book is a readable and at times forensic account of the minutiae of arguments and counter-arguments around the Arms Crisis. But those seeking an understanding of why the North provoked such upheaval in southern politics will have to look elsewhere.


1. Roger Cole - September 18, 2020

If you write a book on the Arms Trial, it hardly unreasonable that it is about the Arms Trial, so it is a rather silly comment.

Liked by 1 person

WorldbyStorm - September 18, 2020

I know where you’re coming from but isn’t it that in order to understand the Arms Trial one has to be offered a sense of the broader contextual environment of the time? If that broader contextual environment isn’t outlined clearly enough then the why as much as the how of the Arms Trial occurring may not be self-evident.

Liked by 1 person

irishelectionliterature - September 18, 2020

I’ve read the book, would be well versed on the Arms Trial and the outbreak of the Troubles .
I enjoyed it but it is slightly tedious and by no means a page turner. In a way it has to be tedious as the author goes through so much in forensic detail to try and illustrate how Gibbons and Lynch knew an awful lot more than they let on.

Liked by 1 person

2. CL - September 18, 2020

“Crisis exposed power struggles within FF, desperate not to lose leadership in nationalism”

“While tremendously detailed, the book’s major weakness is a lack of contextualisation of how northern civil rights protest impacted on the Republic post-October 1968. The batoning of marchers in Derry occurred just as the south was preoccupied with an attempt by Lynch’s government to replace proportional representation. Campaigners against that proposal noted that the introduction of such a system in the North was one of the demands of northern protesters, warning that “if P.R. is abolished . . . the cities of our Republic will be carved up in the same manner as the notorious ward system of Derry”.

“It all goes back to the autumn of 1969, when there was huge unrest in the North. Oppressed Catholic families had been burnt out of their homes in Belfast and thousands of refugees had streamed across the border. There were widespread concerns in Dublin that further pogroms against nationalists might be imminent. There was widespread fear that we would be drawn into a bloody conflict.”- Mary O’Rourke, Independent, June 14, 2020

“Haughey had indeed taken a tough stand against the IRA when he was Minister for Justice some years previously; but if you’re involved in running guns to a terrorist organisation, it’s not really viable to then claim afterwards that they were only intended to be used for one purpose. Haughey certainly wasn’t opposed in principle to the use of force to take back the North. He just didn’t think it had the slightest chance of succeeding.”- Eilis O’ Hanlon

“Rather than seeing it as a plot undertaken by a faction within the then government, without proper authority, Heney argues convincingly that this was in fact an informally authorised operation….
from mid-1969, the Lynch government was pursuing a twin track strategy:

(1) A diplomatic one, that was openly acknowledged, seeking reforms in Northern Ireland. Jack Lynch’s Tralee speech (eschewing coercive means to achieve a united Ireland) was part of this and

(2) A parallel, covert and deniable, strategy to give military aid to the nationalist minority for “self defence”, in the event of a further intensification of Loyalist attacks on them. The attempted arms importation was part of this second track….
Michael Heney controversially argues that this second track approach (of the Irish state preparing to arm Northern nationalists) might, by reassuring them that they were not alone, have forestalled the re-emergence of the Provisional IRA.
I do not believe this at all: it is dangerous historical nonsense….

Michael Heney does show, however, that the prosecutions in the Arms Trial of 1970 were unjustified. This is principally because the accused believed sincerely that they were acting with formal or informal government authority.”-John Bruton

Liked by 1 person

3. sonofstan - September 18, 2020

“Oppressed Catholic families had been burnt out of their homes in Belfast and thousands of refugees had streamed across the border”

I wonder how common this knowledge is among Irish people too young to remember it?

Liked by 1 person

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: