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50 years since Ireland’s greatest bombshell

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  • #2


    Miriam O’Callaghan interviewed Michael Heney about his book which is a bestseller. The reviews I’ve seen have been very favourable and I haven’t seen any which challenge his basic thesis - that Lynch knew and approved a plan to import arms.

    https://www.rte.ie/radio/radioplayer/html5/#/radio1/21770376

    https://www.independent.ie/entertainment/books/arms-crisis-was-haughey-the-fall-guy-in-plot-to-smuggle-guns-39079661.html

    Only the Examiner bothered to cover the 50th. Anniversary seriously which suggests the media prefer to pass in silence over a pivotal moment in our history. But I assume the Irish Times is preparing a backlash.


  • #2


    Mary O’Rourke is full of enthusiasm for Heney’s book in the Sindo today but she adds nothing to our understanding of the crisis although her brother, Brian Lenihan, was a leading figure in Haughey’s governments.

    Haughey’s dismissal of Lenihan during the 1990 Presidential campaign undermined Haughey within FF and paved the way for another heave the next year that ultimately led to his resignation in 1992.

    https://www.independent.ie/opinion/comment/mary-orourke-exploding-myths-and-truths-of-70s-arms-crisis-38079932.html


  • #2


    Caquas wrote: »
    Mary O’Rourke is full of enthusiasm for Heney’s book in the Sindo today but she adds nothing to our understanding of the crisis although her brother, Brian Lenihan, was a leading figure in Haughey’s governments.

    Haughey’s dismissal of Lenihan during the 1990 Presidential campaign undermined Haughey within FF and paved the way for another heave the next year that ultimately led to his resignation in 1992.

    https://www.independent.ie/opinion/comment/mary-orourke-exploding-myths-and-truths-of-70s-arms-crisis-38079932.html

    The origins of the saying "On Mature Recollection"...

    One of the earliest "Gotcha" interviews in Irish Politics.


  • #2


    Quin_Dub wrote: »
    The origins of the saying "On Mature Recollection"...

    One of the earliest "Gotcha" interviews in Irish Politics.

    The weird thing is Lenihan did nothing wrong in phoning the Aras and asking to speak to the President. But Hillery wouldn't answer the phone that night because he had been a stalwart Lynch supporter since the Arms Crisis and he would never give Haughey any satisfaction. Lenihan denied it all because he had to show that, as President, he would be independent of Haughey.

    It is often forgotten that, having humiliated himself, Lenihan topped the poll and might well have won if P. Flynn hadn't made snide remarks about Mary Robinson which galvanised the women's vote. Even so, he only lost because Austin Currie (FG) transferred massively to Mary Robinson. Ironic because Haughey had offered funds to Currie in 1969/70 at the same time as he was buying arms.

    In 1990, like in 1970, no-one dreamed of an FF/FG coalition (still less that the two parties combined would depend on Green Party votes!)


  • #2


    Eoghan Harris has mustered a counter-attack but only a weak defence of Jack Lynch. And of course he gets in a few swipes of his own, at Diarmuid Ferriter, David McCullagh and RTÉ.

    https://www.independent.ie/opinion/comment/hawks-v-doves-50-years-on-arms-crisis-still-stirs-controversy-39360589.html
    He disputes Heney’s claim that the government directive of February 1970 authorised the supply of weapons to northern nationalists but he seems to accept that Lynch knew what was going on. He falls back on the traditional view that Lynch was too weak to beard these powerful Ministers until suddenly he was strong enough to fire them summarily. Comparing Lynch on Northern Ireland in1970 to Blair on Kosovo in 1999 is risible and not flattering to Lynch.

    He is right to question Heney’s portrayal of Captain Kelly as an upstanding army officer betrayed by politicians for simply serving his country. Less plausible is Harris’s claim that Official IRA leader Cathal Goulding was devoted to a “peaceful civil rights path”.

    At the root of this dispute is the hopeless lack of strategic thinking at the highest levels of our government when faced with the crisis in 1968/69. Politicians were pronouncing their adherence to peaceful means but events were beyond their control and no options were really off the table. When northern nationalists demanded guns, they were met with prevarication and equivocation. Hillary’s trip to the United Nations was doomed to fail (mercifully).

    There is endless scope for historical interpretation when everyone was behaving duplicitously.


  • #2


    Caquas wrote: »
    It is often forgotten that, having humiliated himself, Lenihan topped the poll and might well have won if P. Flynn hadn't made snide remarks about Mary Robinson which galvanised the women's vote.

    Sorry Caquas but this is the 'Mna na hEireann' nonsense again.

    The myth was created by the woman herself when, in the euphoria of victory, she asserted that she had won, thanks to 'Mna na hEireann' who 'came out massively to make their mark on the ballot paper', a claim which was not borne out by the numbers.

    If Robinson could validly claim that Mna na hEireann had 'massively' come out to vote for her, it would have shown up as a swing (to her) from both Fianna Fail and Fine Gael when compared to the share of the vote they had achieved in the General Election held the previous year. In fact, in the 1990 Presidential election, Brian Lenihan Sr. received 44.1% of the first preferences, just 0.1% less than the FF first preference vote in the 1989 General Election. In other words, virtually everyone who gave their first preference to FF in the 1989 general election went out and voted for Brian Lenihan in 1990.

    If Mary Robinson was elected by 'Mna na hEireann', there was very few Fianna Fail supporters among them!


  • #2


    coylemj wrote: »
    Sorry Caquas but this is the 'Mna na hEireann' nonsense again.

    The myth was created by the woman herself when, in the euphoria of victory, she asserted that she had won, thanks to 'Mna na hEireann' who 'came out massively to make their mark on the ballot paper', a claim which was not borne out by the numbers.

    .....

    If Mary Robinson was elected by 'Mna na hEireann', there was very few Fianna Fail supporters among them!

    Therein lies the brilliance of Dick Spring’s insight. Remember he was the one who insisted on an election. Fine Gael were committed to the Tallaght Strategy and were willing to give FF a walkover but Spring understood that FF/Haughey had “only” 44% and that our PR system would give victory to anyone who could muster the anti-FF / anti-Haughey majority.

    That’s where Mary Robinson came in. She seemed to float above politics. Was she Left-Wing? was she Liberal? was she radical? She attracted all types but her campaign was driven by the enthusiasm of women, young and old, who were tired of male-dominated politics which had failed to solve Ireland’s problems in the 1980s and which failed to cope with social change (contraception, abortion, divorce)

    So Brian Lenihan won every constituency outside of the major urban areas but Robinson won because she got over 205,000 second preferences from FG’s Austin Currie while Lenihan got less than 37,000.

    FG had abandoned Labour for the Tallaght Strategy but FG voters overwhelmingly preferred Robinson to Lenihan. Why? Because a majority wanted change. Brian Lenihan was establishment and Mna na hEireann gave Mary Robinson an aura of freshness and hope. P. Flynn reminded everyone that FF were the party of patriarchy. No one cared about the arms trial or why Mary Robinson had opposed the Anglo-Irish Agreement.


  • #2


    Caquas wrote: »
    Therein lies the brilliance of Dick Spring’s insight. Remember he was the one who insisted on an election. Fine Gael were committed to the Tallaght Strategy and were willing to give FF a walkover but Spring understood that FF/Haughey had “only” 44% and that our PR system would give victory to anyone who could muster the anti-FF / anti-Haughey majority.

    That’s where Mary Robinson came in. She seemed to float above politics. Was she Left-Wing? was she Liberal? was she radical? She attracted all types but her campaign was driven by the enthusiasm of women, young and old, who were tired of male-dominated politics which had failed to solve Ireland’s problems in the 1980s and which failed to cope with social change (contraception, abortion, divorce)

    So Brian Lenihan won every constituency outside of the major urban areas but Robinson won because she got over 200,000 second preferences from FG’s Austin Currie. FG had abandoned Labour for the Tallaght Strategy but FG voters overwhelmingly preferred Robinson to Lenihan. Why? Because a majority wanted change. Brian Lenihan was establishment and Mna na hEireann gave Mary Robinson an aura of freshness and hope. P. Flynn reminded everyone that FF were the party of patriarchy. No one cared about the arms trial or why Mary Robinson had opposed the Anglo-Irish Agreement.
    And it gave her a good oul number for a few years until a better offer came along. Then it was two fingers to Mna na hEireann and off to the good life in New York


  • #2


    Edgware wrote: »
    And it gave her a good oul number for a few years until a better offer came along. Then it was two fingers to Mna na hEireann and off to the good life in New York

    Only because she was bullied by a man!

    The Secretary General of the United Nations, no less.


  • #2


    The latest edition of the Phoenix (firewalled) points out that Eoghan Harris relied on two sources - Justin O'Brien and Garret Fitzgerald - to rebut Michael Heney's thesis but each of these sources had to apologise and pay damages to Capt. James Kelly for their comments on his role in this affair.

    Now Capt. Kelly's daughter, Suzanne Kelly, is campaigning to have him elevated posthumously to the rank of Colonel (is that possible?). Perhaps the latest Fianna Fall Taoiseach would make it happen
    Suzanne notes that Taoiseach Micheál Martin’s idol is Jack Lynch.“If I meet Micheál, I’m going to say ‘Micheál, sometimes idols have feet of clay. Read this book by Michael Heney and come back to me and let’s have a chat’.”

    https://www.con-telegraph.ie/2020/07/19/sore-festers-50-years-after-arms-crisis/


  • #2


    My dad was in the same class in school as Capt Jim Kelly. They were great friends. He gave me a signed copy of his book The Genesis of Revolution.


  • #2


    Caquas wrote: »
    Now Capt. Kelly's daughter, Suzanne Kelly, is campaigning to have him elevated posthumously to the rank of Colonel (is that possible?). Perhaps the latest Fianna Fall Taoiseach would make it happen

    The campaigning bug is one that's hard to shake off. I wonder what she'll be looking for next, if she gets the posthumous (and completely meaningless) promotion for her father?

    If she does get him the 'promotion', he will join an exclusive club of honorary colonels like 'Col.' Tom Parker (Elvis' manager) and 'Col.' Sanders (KFC).

    Give it up FFS.


  • #2


    My dad was in the same class in school as Capt Jim Kelly. They were great friends. He gave me a signed copy of his book The Genesis of Revolution.

    If he gets a posthumous promotion, that book would be a collectors’ item. Until then, it’s just a souvenir.

    Capt. Kelly was a paradox. His defenders say he was merely doing his job under the direction of his superiors and ultimately of Minister Gibbons. But his life after the Army was highly political, especially in his writings. He seemed determined to show that he acted from patriotic motives and that our cowardly politicians shrank from his inconvenient political insights. He has proved wrong on the evolution of the North, though perhaps it’s still too early to say.


  • #2


    Caquas wrote: »
    Fifty years ago tonight, Taoiseach Jack Lynch dismissed Finance Minister CJ Haughey and Agriculture Minister Neil Blaney. Local Government Minister Kevin Boland resigned in sympathy. Haughey, Blaney and others were then tried and acquitted on charges of smuggling guns for use in the North.

    Lynch claimed he knew nothing about the guns but Blaney and others claim they acted with the approval of the government. Many say it was the start of the Provisonal IRA.

    It was the most divisive issue in Irish party politics since the fall of Parnell and it almost destroyed Fianna Fáil but most people under 40 are barely aware of it.

    The Examiner has a special report -

    https://www.irishexaminer.com/breakingnews/specialreports/special-report-ghosts-of-arms-trial-haunt-fianna-fail-half-a-century-later-997598.html

    You’d imagine that the day De Valera and his merry men and women leaving Dáil Éireann in protest of the vote on the Treaty is a far more divisive event , which destroyed Sinn Fein (the real one) . Led to Civil War and years of issues with it

    Not for the first time , a Cork man fiddled and dallied . (Lynch)

    Did it really almost destroy FF ? People seemed to side with CJ and Boland, especially the bar stoolers .they did fine in subsequent elections . I’d argue that Fr Brendan Smith and the McArthur murderer was more damaging and they helped bring down FF governments

    I think it was already mentioned but Miriam O’Callaghan produced a great series for RTE of the great man, CJ in 2004/2005. Might be on YouTube. Can get the dvd


  • #2


    Caquas wrote: »
    The weird thing is Lenihan did nothing wrong in phoning the Aras and asking to speak to the President. But Hillery wouldn't answer the phone that night because he had been a stalwart Lynch supporter since the Arms Crisis and he would never give Haughey any satisfaction. Lenihan denied it all because he had to show that, as President, he would be independent of Haughey.

    It is often forgotten that, having humiliated himself, Lenihan topped the poll and might well have won if P. Flynn hadn't made snide remarks about Mary Robinson which galvanised the women's vote. Even so, he only lost because Austin Currie (FG) transferred massively to Mary Robinson. Ironic because Haughey had offered funds to Currie in 1969/70 at the same time as he was buying arms.

    In 1990, like in 1970, no-one dreamed of an FF/FG coalition (still less that the two parties combined would depend on Green Party votes!)

    Yes, Brian did enough to win. That bollox from Castlebar opened his mouth about Robbo (he wasn’t entirely wrong in his account, but shouldn’t have said it allowed) and seriously gave her more transfers to help her beat Brian , who got way more first preference votes

    The telephone issue and that disaster of a tv interview wasn’t THE reason for his failure to get the House

    Mary O’Rourke should have had Pee Flynn lynched up onto the lamp posts of the town bridge when they all met in Athlone


  • #2


    Joe Duffy devoted today’s Liveline to the Arms Trial. It features an interview with Col. Michael Hefferon, a key figure in the arms trial, and with Sean Haughey T.D. who mentions Michael Heney’s book and a book to be published today called “Deception and Lies - the Hidden History of the Arms Trial” by David Burke.

    https://www.irishexaminer.com/news/arid-40053293.html

    I'm listening to Liveline from Tuesday 22 September on RTÉ Radio 1 http://rte.ie/r.html?rii=9_21838502_53_22-09-2020


  • #2


    The new book by David Burke has astonishing claims about “pivotal role of an IRA informer in the affair.”
    The book also reveals a dirty tricks campaign by Britain’s Foreign Office to conceal the ancillary role of a British agent called Capt. Markham-Randall in the murder of Garda Richard Fallon on the eve of the eruption of the Arms Crisis



    https://www.mercierpress.ie/irish-books/deception-and-lies/


  • #2


    why would somebody from the IRA stop arms being imported to the north?


  • #2


    Sean Haughey’s questions about how the arms importation was uncovered might produce extraordinary revelations.

    The official line was that civil servants just chanced upon the flight but that was never credible. Many people assumed it was a tip-off from MI5 to Special Branch. Haughey now claims, based on the new book, that the tip-off came from Sean Mac Stiofáin who was instrumental in the IRA split and the creation of the Provos. Haughey says Mac Stiofáin “exploited his position to create mischief for his arch rival, Cathal Goulding.” (I.e. the leader of the Official IRA).

    Minister McEntee wasn’t born when these events happened but she is in the hot seat - an FG Justice Minister with access to information about the trial that almost destroyed her party’s historical rivals, but now her coalition partners.

    https://www.irishtimes.com/news/politics/arms-trial-anniversary-mcentee-pledges-to-release-1970s-records-as-appropriate-1.4361912


  • #2


    https://www.rte.ie/culture/2021/0407/1208391-gunplot-rte-revisits-the-irish-arms-crisis/

    RTÉ Doc on One has launched Gun Plot, a new eight-part series on the Arms Trial.

    RTE 1 will broadcast a companion TV documentary on 28 April.

    Pass the popcorn!
    https://www.rte.ie/radio1/doconone/2021/0412/1209237-gunplot-ep1-the-spark-that-lit-the-flame/


  • #2


    Bertie has a peculiar view of these events, defending the attempt to supply weapons to the Catholic communities.

    https://www.irishtimes.com/news/politics/ahern-says-exposure-of-gun-plot-exacerbated-violence-in-north-1.4549398
    Bertie was always a faithful follower of CJH but he was shrewd enough to disguise that, especially when Haughey was disgraced at the Tribunal.

    Looking forward to the TV programme tonight. The first three episodes of the podcast are excellent.

    https://www.rte.ie/eile/podcasts/2021/0331/1207299-gunplot/


  • #2


    RTÉ accused of distorting the truth of the arms trial by Dessie O’Malley, the sole survivor of that Government.

    https://www.independent.ie/opinion/comment/the-truth-matters-exceptwhen-it-comes-to-rte-and-the-arms-crisis-40531759.html

    And his son now calls RTÉ bared-faced liars for claiming they had contacted his Dad, one of the central figure in our political history over the past 50 years. Is there anyone in the Oireachtas today who would come to his aid?

    There is certainly a notable dearth of voices defending Jack Lynch during the TV documentary and, even more obviously, during the podcast series.

    https://twitter.com/anmailleach/status/1404140641899188227?s=21


  • #2


    And now RTE's apology and retraction

    https://www.independent.ie/irish-news/rte-apologises-to-des-omalley-over-its-gun-plotstatement-40558959.html

    This is not just about making a phone call to Dessie O'Malley. RTE's biggest documentary so far this year, with its supporting podcast series, has just been exposed as hopelessly one-sided. Jack Lynch, the most popular politician in Irish history, was accused of complicity in the plot and betrayal of his colleagues but almost no voices were heard in his defence. This is RTE's most humiliating failure since "Mission to Prey" (a truly nasty piece of work).

    Will this end up with the Broadcasting Commission?


  • #2


    Do you really believe that Lynch was not aware of the plan to import arms long before Cosgrave put the cat among the pigeons?


  • #2


    Caquas wrote: »
    RTE's biggest documentary so far this year, with its supporting podcast series, has just been exposed as hopelessly one-sided. Jack Lynch, the most popular politician in Irish history, was accused of complicity in the plot and betrayal
    Ah now. That might have been true in the 1970's -- even then, I'd have my doubts -- but that's a very outdated designation in 2021.

    Admiration of Lynch didn't really endure once memory of his GAA career faded. He was an Enda Kenny sort of Taoiseach, even down to his appearance, who introduced important reforms when they were badly overdue. Some people hate Kenny and almost nobody hates Lynch, I'll give you that.

    But they were both cut from similar cloth: calm, reliable, conservative but not particularly innovative; and prone to blunders at the end.


  • #2


    Apart from the information about the tape recordings of the trial, there wasn't anything particularly revealing in the podcast.

    I remember buying the McGill issue at the time when they had the revelations about Peter Berry.

    The article itself was printed on different paper because no printer in Ireland would do the job.


  • #2


    Ah now. That might have been true in the 1970's -- even then, I'd have my doubts -- but that's a very outdated designation in 2021.

    Admiration of Lynch didn't really endure once memory of his GAA career faded....

    .

    I didn’t say he was the greatest, the best or the finest. Merely the most popular. He won an overall majority and just over half of all votes in 1977. Only de Valera compares and he was far more divisive. Do you know a more popular Irish politician? I doubt if any politician will match his achievement in 1977.

    So, after listening to the GunPlot series in which he was portrayed as a “felon setter” by many contributors, how can we explain his extraordinary electoral success after the arms trial?

    Of course, it all turned sour two years later because George Colley was no match for his arms trial nemesis. Charlie Haughey.


  • #2


    Caquas wrote: »
    I didn’t say he was the greatest, the best or the finest. Merely the most popular. He won an overall majority and just over half of all votes in 1977. Only de Valera compares and he was far more divisive. Do you know a more popular Irish politician? I doubt if any politician will match his achievement in 1977.

    So, after listening to the GunPlot series in which he was portrayed as a “felon setter” by many contributors, how can we explain his extraordinary electoral success after the arms trial?

    Of course, it all turned sour two years later because George Colley was no match for his arms trial nemesis. Charlie Haughey.

    FF's landslide in 1977 was due mainly to the insane giveaway (car tax abolished, domestic rates abolished) which even FF politicians now agree was a disaster for the country.
    And in the immediate wake of the arms trial, he lost the 73 election.


  • #2


    cml387 wrote: »
    FF's landslide in 1977 was due mainly to the insane giveaway (car tax abolished, domestic rates abolished) which even FF politicians now agree was a disaster for the country.
    And in the immediate wake of the arms trial, he lost the 73 election.

    Every Irish politician makes reckless promises, in fact that has become their stock-in-trade. But Lynch was able to convert that into a landslide because of his personal popularity.

    What is generally forgotten is that Lynch and FF increased their vote in 1973 but lost seats because of a voting pact between FG and Labour, a marriage made in hell between a conservative Catholic party (with a socially-conscious wing) and socialists like People before Profit today (minus the gender politics). The Coalition deserve much credit for Sunningdale (but some of the blame for turning the Council of Ireland into a Unionist bogeyman)

    Village Magazine is running a series accusing Lynch of duplicity and the Irish Times of promoting the Official IRA view of the arms trial
    https://villagemagazine.ie/misrepresenting-haugheys-relationship-with-the-provos-the-irish-times-promoted-the-official-iras-version-of-the-arms-crisis/


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