Irish News-Lead front page story-Monday, August 16, 2004-Exclusive by Seamus McKinney--NW Correspondent


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
an invasion.

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 Ireland.".

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 international scene."

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."

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