'A failed political entity': Charles Haughey and the Northern Ireland question, 1945-1992

Kelly, Stephen 'A failed political entity': Charles Haughey and the Northern Ireland question, 1945-1992. Merrion Press/Irish Academic Press, Dublin. (Accepted for Publication)

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This book is the first of its kind. It tell the story of Haughey’s youthful republicanism (when he burnt a Union Jack flag in 1945 and then years later when proposed that the Irish government ‘invade’ Northern Ireland in 1955!) to his period in consecutive Fianna Fáil governments in the 1960s (when he helped crush the IRA border campaign!). Then of course was his involvement with the Arms crisis and his integral role in attempts to import guns into Ireland in the hope of arming Northern Republicans (the nascent Provisional IRA).
Following several years in the political abyss during the 1970s (following his sacking as a government minister) Haughey made the greatest political comeback in the history of modern Irish politics. In 1979 he became Fianna Fáil leader and taoiseach. It was his time as leader of his beloved party (1979-1992) that Haughey made his greatest impact in relation to Northern Ireland.
The book explores Haughey attitude to Anglo-Irish relations from 1979 to 1992 (specifically his relationship with Margaret Thatcher); his role during the Republican hunger strikes, 1980-1981; his contribution to the New Ireland Forum, 1983-1984; his relationship with Ulster Unionism and the SDLP; Irish-American relations during the 1980s; and lastly his integral role in kick-starting the Northern Ireland peace process (I name him the ‘grandfather’ of this process – a controversial argument, but it’s support by evidence).
In essence, this book lifts the lid on Haughey’s real attitudes (private and public) to the emotive issue of Northern Ireland and more generally Anglo-Irish relations: a hitherto misunderstood subject. It delves into Haughey’s private life, revealing, on the one hand, the flawed nature of his character, which was a mixture of political opportunism and anglophobia. Yet, on the other, he is depicted as a man of conviction. Irrespective if you agreed with his stance on Northern Ireland, the book reveals the extent that Haughey was driven by a personal crusade; a mission to see his beloved country reunited.
This book is not a ‘hatchet job’ on Haughey. Rather it offers a fair and balanced assessment of his attitude to Northern Ireland over the course of his political career. In fact, it points out many of the positive contributions that Haughey make, particularly during his early period a taoiseach (his Dec. 1980 Anglo-Irish summit meeting with Thatcher, for instance). But equally it is not afraid to lampoon Haughey for some of his more outlandish stances in relation to Northern Ireland (the Arms Crisis; his antics at the New Ireland Forum, 1983-1984; and his opposition to the Good Friday Agreement in 1998, to name a few).

Item Type: Book
Faculty / Department: Faculty of Arts & Humanities > History and Politics
Depositing User: Stephen Kelly
Date Deposited: 13 Apr 2016 15:02
Last Modified: 13 Oct 2016 12:15
URI: https://hira.hope.ac.uk/id/eprint/1204

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