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17 May 2001 Edition

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Jack Lynch's inaction

In the Dáil on Wednesday, Taoiseach Bertie Ahern was questioned on the documents held by his Department in relation to the 1970 arms controversy. While Fine Gael and Labour deputies avoided difficult questions Sinn Féin TD Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin challenged the view that Jack Lynch `saved the country'. Ó Caoláin asked the Taoiseach:

``A debate on the arms crisis has already taken place in the Seanad. Will the Taoiseach agree that such a debate should also take place in the Dáil? Will he facilitate such a debate? Will the Taoiseach also agree that any debate on this matter must look at the context in which these events occurred and the events leading up to them? Does the Taoiseach recognise the quite legitimate point of view held by a significant section of Northern nationalists and many others then and since that the real problem was not the actions of the Lynch Government or a section of it but the lack of action and the failure to defend the communities then at risk by moving the crisis onto the international stage, a critical objective which might have prevented the much greater conflict that followed?''

Bertie Ahern defended Lynch's record and went on to claim: ``I would have thought there would have been enormous support in those days among Northern nationalists for the actions taken by the Lynch Government...''

This no doubt will come as a surprise to many Northern nationalists.
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