War, 1969–1974
in From Partition to Brexit
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The chapter critically examines the Irish government response to the outbreak of the Troubles in Derry and Belfast in August 1969. It reviews the differences within the cabinet that led ultimately to the Arms Crisis of May 1970. Using previously top-secret archival files, the chapter also demonstrates how detailed plans for Irish Army intervention into Northern Ireland were devised.

The chapter then evaluates the Irish Government’s responses to internment in Northern Ireland, and to Bloody Sunday, which prompted the burning of the British embassy in Dublin and the withdrawal of the Irish ambassador from London. It is argued that UN initiatives in 1969 and 1972 were conducted with minimum expectation of success but mainly aimed at assuaging popular opinion at home. Particular attention is devoted to the Sunningdale Agreement of December 1973 to which the Irish Government was a co-signatory with the British Government and Northern Ireland leaders. The chapter concludes with the unsuccessful struggle to maintain the power-sharing institutions established as part of the Sunningdale Agreement, culminating in the Dublin and Monaghan bombings and the reimposition of British direct rule.

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