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Article

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This item is available under a Creative Commons License for non-commercial use only

Publication Details

Clonan, T., 2009: Operation Armageddon: Doomsday For Irish Armed Forces, Dublin: The Irish Times.

Abstract

Lynch’s Invasion Plans Exactly forty years ago, in August and September of 1969, intense rioting and civil unrest prevailed throughout Northern Ireland – violence that would ultimately lead to the outbreak of the Troubles. As the violence reached fever pitch the then Taoiseach, Jack Lynch made a televised speech to the nation on RTE in which he used – the now immortal and much misquoted phrase – ‘We will not stand by’. For almost forty years, historians and political pundits alike have argued over the precise meaning of this provocative – and yet somewhat ambiguous phrase. Had Jack Lynch intended to convey the possibility of an Irish army invasion of Northern Ireland – ostensibly to protect nationalists from sectarian attacks? Unlikely as it may seem today, the Irish Army did indeed draw up secret plans to invade the six counties. In a secret Irish Army document, drawn up in September 1969 and entitled ‘Interim Report of Planning Board on Northern Ireland Operations’ – the Irish military authorities explicitly outline their concept for ‘feasible’ military operations within the six counties. In its opening paragraphs, the military document – seen by the Irish Times – predicts with considerable understatement that ‘all situations visualised (in this document) assume that military action would be taken unilaterally by the Defence Forces and would meet with hostility from Northern Ireland Security Forces’. In other words, due to the prospect of confronting far superior forces and being exposed to ‘the threat of retaliatory punitive military action by UK forces on the republic’ Irish military operations would of necessity commence unannounced – with no formal declaration of war. The document sets out various attack scenarios whereby the Irish general staff would seek to exploit the element of surprise to launch both covert unconventional or ‘guerrilla-style’ operations against the British authorities along with conventional infantry attacks on Derry and Newry.

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