News-Lead front page story-Monday, August 16, 2004-Exclusive by Seamus Mc
INVASION OF NORTH LOOKED AT BY DUBLIN
NEW evidence has emerged that the Dublin government of 1969
was considering an Irish army invasion of Northern Ireland.
In September 1969-following the Battle of the Bogside in Derry and fierce
street fighting in Belfast-a detailed contingency plan was drawn up for the
office of the Irish army's then Chief of Staff exploring the possibility of
The proposal never reached implementation stage but still casts new light on
one of the most traumatic periods in recent Irish history. Significantly the
plan was drawn up just days before Taoiseach Jack Lynch said in Dail Eireann
that his government only supported Irish unity through peaceful means.
Titled 'Report of Planning Board on Northern Ireland Operations' the
document obtained by the Irish News is dated September 27 1969.
According to Sheila Kelly, widow of Irish army captain James Kelly- who,
along with government ministers Charles Haughey, Neil Blaney, former Sinn
Féin assembly member John Kelly and Belgian businessman Albert Luyx, was
acquitted of charges of attempting to import arms into the south-the report
was never shown to her husband during the 1970 arms trial.
The report stated as its objective: "To report on the feasibility of the
defence forces undertaking military combat or support operations in Northern
But the report examined the feasibility of the Irish army moving into Derry
and Newry. It considered the need for conventional and unconventional
operations throughout the north but stated that "guerrilla-type operations"
would be difficult to conduct over a protracted period.
It is significant that the report explored the feasibility of the Irish
defence forces co-operating with extreme republicanism through training and
the supply of arms.
It noted: "A number of courses suggested would involve support of and
cooperaton with various movements in Northern Ireland such as civil rights
and republican groups.
"They should also lead to co-operation with illegal groups in the Republic.
These contacts would have serious political implications on the national and
According to historian Eamon Phoenix, this showed the establishment in the
Republic was considering such a co-operation just weeks before Mr. Lynch
dismissed it publicly.
Mr. Pheonix said he believed it unlikely that the document would not have
been seen at government level.
He said of the document:"It is very significant. It means that Lynch after
August 1969, had still not ruled out intervention despite the ramifications
for the Irish state or [the possibility of] provoking loyalist
paramilitaries and the A and B' Specials and a British government response."