In fear of Armageddon, 1974–1979
in From Partition to Brexit
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This chapter begins with assessing the Irish Government’s position on Northern Ireland following the bombing of Dublin and Monaghan, and the collapse of the Sunningdale power-sharing institutions established by the Sunningdale Agreement. Using previously top-secret archival files, the chapter demonstrates how Dublin drew up extensive plans for how to respond to a complete breakdown of society in Northern Ireland, which might follow a British withdrawal. The chapter produces evidence of the psychological detachment between the Irish Government and northern nationalists, and how Dublin increasingly acted on the basis that aggression in the North was one-dimensional, occluding rigorous examination of violence perpetrated by loyalists and by the British state.

The latter part of the chapter examines the Northern Ireland policies of the Fianna Fáil administration that won a handsome majority in 1977. It highlights the challenges of the Jack Lynch-led Government in seeking to achieve progress with a weak administration in London dependent on unionist votes. The chapter concludes by demonstrating how Charles Haughey and his supporters succeeded in exploiting Lynch’s weaknesses on Northern Ireland policy as a means to undermine and ultimately dislodge him.

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