The Arms Crisis of 1970 – The Plot That Never Was: Readable but lacking context

Book review: Crisis exposed power struggles within FF, desperate not to lose leadership in nationalism

John Kelly is carried shoulder heigh from the Four Courts after the verdict of his acquital of arms smuggling was announced in the Arms Trial on October 24th, 1970. Photograph: Jimmy McCormack/The Irish Times

John Kelly is carried shoulder heigh from the Four Courts after the verdict of his acquital of arms smuggling was announced in the Arms Trial on October 24th, 1970. Photograph: Jimmy McCormack/The Irish Times

Fifty years ago Ireland was transfixed by the Arms Trial. In popular memory the crisis is largely recalled as one in which taoiseach Jack Lynch took decisive action to save Irish democracy, dismissing ministers Charles Haughey and Neil Blaney for conspiring to illegally import arms for use by northern republicans.

A new study by Michael Heney asserts that Lynch and his allies, through a combination of “false testimony, silence, evasion and various forms of subterfuge”, scapegoated Haughey and Blaney and destroyed the career of Army officer Capt James Kelly.

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