Issue 2 - 2024 200dpi

28 October 1999 Edition

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Legacy of Lynch era

Former Taoiseach Jack Lynch's death last week prefaced nothing short of a rewriting of history by a succession of politicians and journalists who tried to whitewash the abandonment of nationalists in the Six Counties by the Southern political establishment.

At Lynch's graveside, Dessie O'Malley, referring to the outbreak of conflict in the North in 1969, claimed that Lynch had ``refused to cave in to sinister elements'' thus saving the 26 Counties from a possible fate which O'Malley did not expand upon but which he indicated would have endangered ``law and order'' and the''prosperity'' of the Southern state.

The widespread feeling of anger throughout the 32 Counties in the face of Unionist and British agression against a defenceless nationalist population in the north in 1969 demanded that something be done. But instead of pursuing Fianna Fáil's stated policy objective of British withdrawal and national unity, Lynch's government panicked, turned its back on the North, and resorted to repression against Irish republicanism.

In his zeal to stabilise the status quo Lynch's justice minister, the same Dessie O'Malley who delivered his graveside oration, introduced repugnant and draconian security measures which eroded civil liberties in the 26 Counties. These included special non-jury courts for political suspects. O'Malley closed down the offices of Sinn Féin.

The Lynch government sacked the entire RTÉ authority for carrying an IRA interview, and the journalist involved, Kevin O'Kelly, was sent to jail. O'Malley changed the law so that the word of a Garda Chief Superintendant was enough to convict someone of membership of an unlawful organisation.

Commentators and politicians over the past week have argued that the policies of the Lynch government saved the lives of nationalists in the North. This ignores the thousands of deaths over the past 30 years of conflict which resulted from the events of 1969/'70 and the failure to tackle and possibly resolve then the underlying causes of that conflict.

An Phoblacht
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