Workers' Party sought Irish link to 'red' lobby

Mon, Dec 31, 2012, 00:00

Baghdad summit:Attempts by the Workers’ Party to persuade the shortlived government of Charles Haughey in 1982 to become involved in the Non-Aligned Movement were resisted, newly released State papers reveal.

Founded in Belgrade in 1961, the Non-Aligned Movement is a group of 120 states not aligned with any major power bloc.

The Workers’ Party’s three Dáil deputies had supported Haughey’s minority government when it was formed after the February 1982 election, but withdrew support in November. A Fine Gael-Labour coalition took office after the subsequent general election.

During 1982, party general secretary Seán Garland made a number of efforts to move the Haughey administration towards a more left-wing, or at least neutral, position on world affairs.

‘Totally Red’

A note in the Department of the Taoiseach files at the time mentions that Garland is the Irish representative on the Committee for European Security and Co-operation which the civil servant describes as “totally Red in outlook and completely under the control of Moscow”.

On May 25th, Garland wrote to the taoiseach, asking him to meet the committee in New York when Haughey was attending the United Nations special session on disarmament in June.

Two days later, he wrote again, suggesting to Haughey that he call on the US and USSR to mediate a solution in the Iran-Iraq War (1980-88). He also urged that Ireland be represented – even as an observer – at the Non-Aligned Movement summit scheduled for Baghdad in September (it was eventually shifted to New Delhi in March 1983 because of the conflict with Iran).

“Your policy on the Falklands question has the overwhelming support of the Irish people and, I would say, the support of the majority of countries in the UN,” he writes. “Attendance and support for the Non-Aligned conference in September will consolidate the leading and important position Ireland now occupies throughout the world.”

He wrote again to Haughey on June 16th to repeat his suggestion regarding the summit, and met him on June 21st.

The Department of Foreign Affairs was consulted and assistant secretary Pádraic McKernan wrote back on July 1st: “ . . . attendance at the Baghdad summit, if it takes place, would be of no great advantage to us and indeed might be misunderstood.”

Haughey decided not to send a representative. He also turned down a request for funding for a conference.

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