In 1970 Charles Haughey and Neil Blaney were put on trial charged with
trying to smuggle arms into Ireland. The first trial collapsed in a week. The
Jury in the re-trial acquitted them. Nobody reading the testimony of the chief
Prosecution witness, Defence Minister
James Gibbons,can have been surprised that the jury acquitted Haughey, Blaney and other accused, for it was unbelievable.
Haughey did not testify. If he had done so he would have confirmed the suspicion that he acted in accordance with agreed
Cabinet policy, when, as Finance Minister, he ordered Customs authorities not to inspect a small consignment of pistols.
Captain Kelly, of Irish Army Intelligence, following legitimate orders, was also acquitted. But his employment was terminated
The villain of the piece was Jack Lynch, a Hurling legend, canonised in a hagiography by Bruce Arnold, Lynch, in his first
election as leader of Fianna Fail had led them to a landslide victory. He bribed the greedier voters by abolishing Local
Government Rates, and won the holier ones by wooing Mothers Superior.
Stupid and ignorant commentators such as Fergal Keane will tell you that “the chancer Haughey” was on a “nod and a wink
terms with the IRA” whereas the Northern nationalists that the Irish Government was liaising withthrough Captain Kelly were not
IRA people at all. The then IRA under Cathal Goulding had embraced a half-arsed version of Marxism and was more “anti-Free State” than anti British or anti-Stormont.
As Fianna Fail Minister of Justice, Haughey had brought in legislation to clamp down on the IRA. The second Coalition led byJohn A Costello was more sympathetic to physical force republicans than were Fianna Fail Ministers since the enactment of the Irish Constitution in 1937.
Liam Kelly, expelled from the IRA in 1951 for unauthorised escapades, was appointed to Seanad Eireann at the suggestion of Sean MaBride of Clann na Poblachta, with the support of Fine Gael members, on the Labour Panel.
Kelly had founded Saor Uladh (Free Ulster) in 1952 and a military wing “Laocra Uladh” which attacked RUC Barracks, and incurred fatalities in 1955 an 1958.
In the early 1950s Kelly had addressed a rally in his native village of Pomeroy which was baton-charged by the RUC and led to Kelly’s arrest. Charles Haughey of Fianna Fail was a spectator, and a Lieutenant in the FCA, which he had joined as a teenager in 1940 when it was called the LDF, With him was a member of his Artane platoon, Dessie Francis, who was also also in Fianna Fail. In the early 1960s I was horrified to hear Dessie Francis describe Liam Kelly’s address as “Sedition” in tones I would have then have regarded as West British. Haughey and Francis were in full agreement with de Valera’s conviction that armed force was not likely to bring about a united Ireland.
Haughey’s father, like most of the IRA in the Six-Counties sided with Michael Collins in 1922 in trying to make them ungovernable by the Unionists, and when that scheme came unstuck, joined him in the war unleashed on their former comrades at the insistence of Winston Churchill.
It might be worth mentioning that Charles Haughey, the most impressive of Ireland’s post-revolutionary politicians, together with his ablest colleagues, Brian Lenihan (Senior) and Donagh O’Malley, were Fianna Fail Ministers from “pro-Treaty” families welcomed into the party while it was still led by Eamon de Valera.
The way de Valera, Lemass and their colleagues reconciled former antagonists, saw off the Blue Shirts and co-opted most of the
Republicans of 1922, like all creditable Fianna Fail achievements will never be appreciated by those dependent on hired hacks such as Fergal Keane OBE.
Which is why I intend to highlight achievements of both Charles Haughey and Eamon de Valera, refute lies told about them,
without campaigning for their canonisation.