Did Cosgrave and Lynch stop the slaughter in Northern Ireland?

bagel

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This already received a mention over in http://www.politics.ie/forum/current-affairs/259507-liam-cosgrave-dies-35.html but I think it deserves a thread of its own. The content could be equally at home in several different fora on this site but I've opted for the Defence Forum on the grounds of so much 'military' mentions in the letter. I'm hoping readers will throw some light on the contents because most, if not all, of it is news to me. As its not strictly a newspaper article but instead a letter to the Editor, I assuming copyright doesn't apply so I'll post the entire contents:

Cosgrave and Lynch stopped slaughter in Northern Ireland - Independent.ie
"One Sunday in August 1969, when tensions were rising in Northern Ireland, British PM Harold Wilson "imagined" he had the immediate answer to end British involvement there. He telephoned the then-Taoiseach, Jack Lynch, on a secure line, informing him he would have no objection to the Republic sending the Irish Army into the North.
Prior to the phone call, Wilson had in fact ordered the general officer commanding (GOC) of the British army in Northern Ireland to confine all troops to barracks from midnight on the following Tuesday, for 72 hours. He further directed that the troops in the barracks could only defend their barrack if it came under direct attack: they were to take no part whatsoever in any occurrence outside the barrack.
On Monday morning, the GOC met the military attaché in the British Embassy in Dublin. He outlined the scenario that would ensue if the Irish Army attempted to 'invade' the North.
The 'B' Specials had the same up-to-date armoury as the British army; the large number of gun clubs throughout Northern Ireland, with all members well trained in the use of firearms, by comparison to the then aged equipment of the Irish Army. They did not even have a wireless communication system. The GOC also pointed out the fact that if the Irish Army crossed the Border, it would be deemed an attack on Nato; placing the Government of Ireland in international hot water. Any Irish person imagining Nato would not have responded is indeed a fool.
The main concern of the GOC and the military attaché was the danger of wholesale slaughter of Catholics by a well-armed militia, who at this stage were in a state of deliberately induced terror from unionist politicians, and clerical firebrands. Both men went to the then leader of the Opposition, Liam Cosgrave, to whom they outlined everything in detail.
Mr Cosgrave immediately went to Jack Lynch who, when faced with the reality of the situation, ordered the Irish Army back from the Border. A month later, a number of the Army top brass held a meeting in Mullingar barracks to plan a coup d'etat: they were foiled by An Garda Síochána.
Mr Cosgrave and Mr Lynch were criticised by those whose ideology on uniting Ireland was only by violent means. The fact remains, they prevented thousands of people being killed, or maimed, in what would have been sheer lunacy.
Declan Foley
Berwick, Australia"

Is the letter absolute nonsense or is there indeed some truth in it?
 


redneck

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I don't know, pity Mr Cosgrave never had to answer any questions about this matter. Also I am sure there are records in the Garda that could confirm or deny this.
Interesting about the "coup d etat" allegation. I know that the regular Irish Army felt very frustrated about the North for the first 10 years of the troubles.
 

Catalpast

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This already received a mention over in http://www.politics.ie/forum/current-affairs/259507-liam-cosgrave-dies-35.html but I think it deserves a thread of its own. The content could be equally at home in several different fora on this site but I've opted for the Defence Forum on the grounds of so much 'military' mentions in the letter. I'm hoping readers will throw some light on the contents because most, if not all, of it is news to me. As its not strictly a newspaper article but instead a letter to the Editor, I assuming copyright doesn't apply so I'll post the entire contents:

Cosgrave and Lynch stopped slaughter in Northern Ireland - Independent.ie
"One Sunday in August 1969, when tensions were rising in Northern Ireland, British PM Harold Wilson "imagined" he had the immediate answer to end British involvement there. He telephoned the then-Taoiseach, Jack Lynch, on a secure line, informing him he would have no objection to the Republic sending the Irish Army into the North.
Prior to the phone call, Wilson had in fact ordered the general officer commanding (GOC) of the British army in Northern Ireland to confine all troops to barracks from midnight on the following Tuesday, for 72 hours. He further directed that the troops in the barracks could only defend their barrack if it came under direct attack: they were to take no part whatsoever in any occurrence outside the barrack.
On Monday morning, the GOC met the military attaché in the British Embassy in Dublin. He outlined the scenario that would ensue if the Irish Army attempted to 'invade' the North.
The 'B' Specials had the same up-to-date armoury as the British army; the large number of gun clubs throughout Northern Ireland, with all members well trained in the use of firearms, by comparison to the then aged equipment of the Irish Army. They did not even have a wireless communication system. The GOC also pointed out the fact that if the Irish Army crossed the Border, it would be deemed an attack on Nato; placing the Government of Ireland in international hot water. Any Irish person imagining Nato would not have responded is indeed a fool.
The main concern of the GOC and the military attaché was the danger of wholesale slaughter of Catholics by a well-armed militia, who at this stage were in a state of deliberately induced terror from unionist politicians, and clerical firebrands. Both men went to the then leader of the Opposition, Liam Cosgrave, to whom they outlined everything in detail.
Mr Cosgrave immediately went to Jack Lynch who, when faced with the reality of the situation, ordered the Irish Army back from the Border. A month later, a number of the Army top brass held a meeting in Mullingar barracks to plan a coup d'etat: they were foiled by An Garda Síochána.
Mr Cosgrave and Mr Lynch were criticised by those whose ideology on uniting Ireland was only by violent means. The fact remains, they prevented thousands of people being killed, or maimed, in what would have been sheer lunacy.
Declan Foley
Berwick, Australia"

Is the letter absolute nonsense or is there indeed some truth in it?
A work of Fiction to be sure.
 

PO'Neill

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Far from it been seen as " an Irish army invading the UK ", it would have been supported world wide as the Irish army coming to the rescue of unarmed, beleaguered nationalists in Derry etc been attacked by British state forces of the RUC, B Specials along with supremacist unionist mobs. And nowhere more than America had the Civil rights movement international sympathy due to it's similarities with the Civil Rights movement there and of course Irish America in Boston, New York etc And the unionist state wasn't and still isn't very popular with the average English person, they'd rather be rid of it.

Lynch, FF and the other cheek of the same ar$e FG didn't send the army in because the Gombeen men in the 26 govt - despite their rhetoric for 5 decades regarding a United Ireland - as it would have disturbed their cosy, corrupt, conservative, catholic set-up, and didn't want their profitable political life and little fiefdoms disturbed in anyway.These quislings have absolutely not the slightest care or concern for the ordinary people of Ireland, we seen it in 1969 and we seen it again with the EU banksters bailout with NAMA etc as they ditched the country so to protect themselves and their corrupt cronies at the expense of everyone else.
 

Odyessus

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This already received a mention over in http://www.politics.ie/forum/current-affairs/259507-liam-cosgrave-dies-35.html but I think it deserves a thread of its own. The content could be equally at home in several different fora on this site but I've opted for the Defence Forum on the grounds of so much 'military' mentions in the letter. I'm hoping readers will throw some light on the contents because most, if not all, of it is news to me. As its not strictly a newspaper article but instead a letter to the Editor, I assuming copyright doesn't apply so I'll post the entire contents:

Cosgrave and Lynch stopped slaughter in Northern Ireland - Independent.ie
"One Sunday in August 1969, when tensions were rising in Northern Ireland, British PM Harold Wilson "imagined" he had the immediate answer to end British involvement there. He telephoned the then-Taoiseach, Jack Lynch, on a secure line, informing him he would have no objection to the Republic sending the Irish Army into the North.
Prior to the phone call, Wilson had in fact ordered the general officer commanding (GOC) of the British army in Northern Ireland to confine all troops to barracks from midnight on the following Tuesday, for 72 hours. He further directed that the troops in the barracks could only defend their barrack if it came under direct attack: they were to take no part whatsoever in any occurrence outside the barrack.
On Monday morning, the GOC met the military attaché in the British Embassy in Dublin. He outlined the scenario that would ensue if the Irish Army attempted to 'invade' the North.
The 'B' Specials had the same up-to-date armoury as the British army; the large number of gun clubs throughout Northern Ireland, with all members well trained in the use of firearms, by comparison to the then aged equipment of the Irish Army. They did not even have a wireless communication system. The GOC also pointed out the fact that if the Irish Army crossed the Border, it would be deemed an attack on Nato; placing the Government of Ireland in international hot water. Any Irish person imagining Nato would not have responded is indeed a fool.
The main concern of the GOC and the military attaché was the danger of wholesale slaughter of Catholics by a well-armed militia, who at this stage were in a state of deliberately induced terror from unionist politicians, and clerical firebrands. Both men went to the then leader of the Opposition, Liam Cosgrave, to whom they outlined everything in detail.
Mr Cosgrave immediately went to Jack Lynch who, when faced with the reality of the situation, ordered the Irish Army back from the Border. A month later, a number of the Army top brass held a meeting in Mullingar barracks to plan a coup d'etat: they were foiled by An Garda Síochána.
Mr Cosgrave and Mr Lynch were criticised by those whose ideology on uniting Ireland was only by violent means. The fact remains, they prevented thousands of people being killed, or maimed, in what would have been sheer lunacy.
Declan Foley
Berwick, Australia"

Is the letter absolute nonsense or is there indeed some truth in it?

Absolute nonsense of course.
 

between the bridges

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No.




Next...
 

Levellers

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Cosgrave lengthened the war because, like the Brits, he sought a military victory.
 

sparky42

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Any military action by Ireland against the UK, a) would have been suicidal and b) would have been laughed at by the world as they watched the UK shatter such an attempt. The suggestion that in the Cold War any NATO nation would have taken Ireland's side over a major NATO Nuclear power is divorced from reality.
 

PO'Neill

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Any military action by Ireland against the UK, a) would have been suicidal and b) would have been laughed at by the world as they watched the UK shatter such an attempt. The suggestion that in the Cold War any NATO nation would have taken Ireland's side over a major NATO Nuclear power is divorced from reality.
Yeah sure, just like the world support the Brits got in Suez in 1956 - and then couldn't get their asses out quick enough. Even the Brits learn the odd lesson. The Civil rights movement had international sympathy, especially in America, where one telephone call from Washington would have ended any British thoughts of all out attack of the Bogside, Newry and Dublin. If the Brits could have attacked as they pleased - then why didn't they do it when the IRA launched thousands of attacks from across the border throughout the troubles and escaped south again umpteenth times ?
 
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sparky42

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Yeah sure, just like the world support the Brits got in Suez in 1956 - and then couldn't get their asses out quick enough. Even the Brits learn the odd lesson. The Civil rights movement had international sympathy, especially in America, where one telephone call from Washington would have ended any British thoughts of all out attack of the Bogside, Newry and Dublin. If the Brits could have attacked as they pleased - then why didn't they do it when the IRA launched thousands of attacks from across the border throughout the troubles and escaped south again umpteenth times ?
Because it wasn't worth their time against a non state actor of relatively limited threat, an offensive action by a State is a completely different matter. The North is UK territory, attacking it would have been an Act of War that no NATO nation would have intervened against, (So not Suez but Falklands in international support). Nor does that change the core and most vital point, asking the Defence Forces to go against the British Army in such a military action was and would be a suicide mission that would achieve the square root of feck all.
 

PO'Neill

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Because it wasn't worth their time against a non state actor of relatively limited threat, an offensive action by a State is a completely different matter. The North is UK territory, attacking it would have been an Act of War that no NATO nation would have intervened against, (So not Suez but Falklands in international support). Nor does that change the core and most vital point, asking the Defence Forces to go against the British Army in such a military action was and would be a suicide mission that would achieve the square root of feck all.
It was the longest conflict the Brits were involved with in the last century. In A. R. Oppenheimer's IRA: The Bombs and the Bullets: A History of Deadly Ingenuity, he estimates that the IRA carried out 19,000 explosions during the troubles. Along with maybe as many ambushes, gun battles etc, the IRA killed several hundred listed as civilians but that includes loyalists, informers, Brit agents, splinter groups etc. The mega explosions in London, Manchester etc he states were the largest bombing campaign of a European city since WW2. Some limited threat all right Napoleon.

The British embassy is international law British territory, didn't see mighty Britannia invading Dublin when it was burned down in 1972. Likewise the Icelandic's burned down the Brit embassy and rammed British ships and fired at the British navy in the early 70's. International opinion was with Iceland, no British all out war on tiny Iceland of course !! Maybe if we had the Icelandic govt instead of the servile, pandering quislings of FF,FG, LP the situation would have been completely different :)

[video=youtube;c0JpxmEvSu4]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=c0JpxmEvSu4[/video]
 

Jezza15

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Yeah sure, just like the world support the Brits got in Suez in 1956 - and then couldn't get their asses out quick enough. Even the Brits learn the odd lesson. The Civil rights movement had international sympathy, especially in America, where one telephone call from Washington would have ended any British thoughts of all out attack of the Bogside, Newry and Dublin. If the Brits could have attacked as they pleased - then why didn't they do it when the IRA launched thousands of attacks from across the border throughout the troubles and escaped south again umpteenth times ?
Based upon the classic Republican delusion that NI is the same as India, the Middle East or the rest of Ireland for that matter.

A little difference- the majority of Northern Irish were ethnic Britons; from the elites to the gutter most people were British and happy about it. If that was the case in all those other places they would have panned out very differently.

And it is beyond question that the British Governments held back in NI because of their determination to paint it as an internal issue within the UK, and to appear to have 'normal' relations with Dublin. The British military could have crushed the IRA if they had taken the same attitude towards 'collateral damage' as they did in places further away full of non-white foreign types.

A civil rights campaign having international sympathy is not the same as a revolutionary nationalist campaign of violence. The NI Civil Rights campaign openly linked itself to Civil Rights in the USA. Well Black Americans were not campaigning to make the USA part of Africa and governed from Lagos, and make Americans a minority in their own nation.
 

petaljam

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Because it wasn't worth their time against a non state actor of relatively limited threat, an offensive action by a State is a completely different matter. The North is UK territory, attacking it would have been an Act of War that no NATO nation would have intervened against, (So not Suez but Falklands in international support). Nor does that change the core and most vital point, asking the Defence Forces to go against the British Army in such a military action was and would be a suicide mission that would achieve the square root of feck all.
Nothing like the Falklands, where one section of the local population was not being chased out of their homes in pogroms facilitated by the local authorities.

I've no idea whether the letter is accurate, nor am I sure whether in hindsight intervention would have led to a better outcome, but a lot of northern nationalists of my parents' generation never got over the feeling of abandonment and even betrayal by the southern government in those early days of the Troubles, and Jack Lynch announcing "We will not stand idly by" while doing exactly that epitomized that pretence of solidarity which, it turned out, was worth exactly nothing.
 

PO'Neill

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Based upon the classic Republican delusion that NI is the same as India, the Middle East or the rest of Ireland for that matter.

A little difference- the majority of Northern Irish were ethnic Britons; from the elites to the gutter most people were British and happy about it. If that was the case in all those other places they would have panned out very differently.

And it is beyond question that the British Governments held back in NI because of their determination to paint it as an internal issue within the UK, and to appear to have 'normal' relations with Dublin. The British military could have crushed the IRA if they had taken the same attitude towards 'collateral damage' as they did in places further away full of non-white foreign types.

A civil rights campaign having international sympathy is not the same as a revolutionary nationalist campaign of violence. The NI Civil Rights campaign openly linked itself to Civil Rights in the USA. Well Black Americans were not campaigning to make the USA part of Africa and governed from Lagos, and make Americans a minority in their own nation.
 

Finbar10

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After a quick google search, it does seem that the writer of this letter "Declan Foley of Berwick, Australia" has written at least one similar letter to the paper with a similar narrative before.

Here's part of one on "Operation Armageddon" from 2009:
Madam, – Perhaps John T O’Neill, Col, retired (September 10th), could illuminate the public about the meeting of senior army officers held in Mullingar Army Barracks 40 years ago, shortly after all Irish Army personnel were ordered by the government of the day back to their respective barracks. This meeting was halted by the Special Branch of the Garda Síochána armed with Uzis. In the following weeks a number of high-ranking officers took early retirement.

Special Branch intelligence were of the opinion the meeting was to organise a coup d’etat because of the refusal of the Lynch government to take back “The North”. When, if ever, Harold Wilson’s complete papers are released, will the people of Ireland and the UK realise how close to slaughter Ireland came in 1969?
My history of this period is a bit sketchy. Is this guy's overall narrative generally unbelievable and running counter to established events, or is it potentially plausible (and might conceivably fit in with what happened) but with no real hard evidence except for his statements?
 

sparky42

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Nothing like the Falklands, where one section of the local population was not being chased out of their homes in pogroms facilitated by the local authorities.

I've no idea whether the letter is accurate, nor am I sure whether in hindsight intervention would have led to a better outcome, but a lot of northern nationalists of my parents' generation never got over the feeling of abandonment and even betrayal by the southern government in those early days of the Troubles, and Jack Lynch announcing "We will not stand idly by" while doing exactly that epitomized that pretence of solidarity which, it turned out, was worth exactly nothing.
The Falklands was a situation where an internationally recognised British Territory was invaded by another nation, an attack by the Republic into the North would have been the exact same situation internationally, and would have been viewed as such by the UK's military partners.

More over what exactly do you or anyone else propose? The Defence Forces wouldn't achieve anything (other than dying) going against the British Army in any combat situation, suggesting otherwise again is divorced from reality.
 

Old Mr Grouser

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... such a military action was and would be a suicide mission that would achieve the square root of feck all.
Also there'd be all the Sanctions and Embagoes.

Irish agriculture would have lost its British market.

The Bank of England would have blocked Irish accounts.

The ferries would have been shut down.

British airports would have been closed to Irish flights.

Irish people wishing to enter Britain would have needed hard-to-obtain visas; yes, even householders returning from a holiday.

etc, etc.
 

PO'Neill

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Also there'd be all the Sanctions and Embagoes.

Irish agriculture would have lost its British market.

The Bank of England would have blocked Irish accounts.

The ferries would have been shut down.

British airports would have been closed to Irish flights.

Irish people wishing to enter Britain would have needed hard-to-obtain visas; yes, even householders returning from a holiday.

etc, etc.
The Brits were hoping to join the EEC, not a hope were they going to act like colonial bully's against another European nation. Hence checkout the Cod War with tiny Iceland to see their real power in the world and in fact were facing economic bankruptcy having to be bailed out by the IMF (several decades before our wee one). Besides one telephone call from Washington would have them changing their tune instantly.
 


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