Kevin O’Sullivan
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Ireland comes of age
Congo, peacekeeping and foreign policy
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This chapter outlines the difficulties that faced the ‘fire brigade’ states in their efforts to translate their vision of international stability based on collective security into practice. On the surface, involvement in the UN peacekeeping operation in the Congo (ONUC; 1960–64) offered an opportunity to match anti-colonial rhetoric with practical action. In that sense the experience proved successful: peacekeeping became an important outlet for expressing Irish commitment to the UN. Yet the episode was, in large part, a chastening one. With its role limited by the influence of the Cold War powers, by the relative powerlessness of the UN, and by an increasingly vocal Afro-Asian bloc, the Congo experience forced Irish officials to come of age: to recognise the limits to their actions but also to accept their standing as pro-Western, pragmatic, European states.

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Ireland, Africa and the end of empire

Small state identity in the Cold War 1955–75


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