Defending Ireland: The Irish State and Its Enemies since 1922

Defending Ireland: The Irish State and Its Enemies since 1922

Defending Ireland: The Irish State and Its Enemies since 1922

Defending Ireland: The Irish State and Its Enemies since 1922

Synopsis

This book is the first to draw together the various strands of Irish national security policy and practice in a single chronological study, from independence in 1922 right up to the present day. Dr O'Halpin analyses the rapid emergence of a complex external security policy combining an absolute commitment to military neutrality and independent defence with close co-operation with Britain over issues of joint concern such as security and immigration. He traces the development of the army and police force in the new Irish state; and examines the state's reaction to the enduring republican threat, casting fresh light on how far the state was willing to put key constitutional protections into abeyance in its conflict with the republican movement. The book also examines the clandestine intelligence activities of belligerent powers during the Second World War, documenting the growth of the state's close wartime security understandings with the Allied powers, and the evolution of Cold War links with MI5 and the CIA. It investigates the evolution of post-war defence policy, and the activities of the defence forces in relation to the Northern Ireland crisis, as well as in their primary tasks of defending the state from external aggression and of contributing to UN peace-keeping operations. Dr O'Halpin highlights continuities as well as innovations in state security policy as the obligations and opportunities of European Union membership grate more and more against the absolutist rhetoric of neutrality. This book is essential reading for anyone wishing to understand the development of the Irish state in the twentieth century.

Excerpt

The four years between April 1923 and August 1927 saw the steady consolidation of the new state, beginning with republican collapse in the civil war and culminating in de Valera's grudging entry to the Dáil. in retrospect the victory of constitutional politics has the appearance of inevitability. At the time, however, matters did not seem so simple: the violent deaths of key political figures mark key points in the period. the republican irreconcilable Liam Lynch was killed in action in April 1923, and Kevin O'Higgins , the passionate advocate of the rule of law, was assassinated while walking to mass in July 1927. As he lay dying O'Higgins forgave his killers but warned his friends to beware of de Valera. He was right: his death forced Fianna Fáil into parliamentary politics. in so doing it wrought not only the marginalization of militant republicanism which O'Higgins had hoped for, but also the electoral triumph in 1932 of the man whom he and his colleagues loathed the most.

The problems facing the government in April 1923 were enormous. Roads, bridges, and railways had suffered great damage, threatening the country's economic life. in many areas the local taxation system had almost collapsed, jeopardizing the provision of essential services. Land agitation in the west and south, fanned by the civil war but largely independent of it, seemed to challenge the established social order. Labour unrest added to the sense of menace. the explosive issue of the boundaries of Northern Ireland remained on the agenda. Despite military defeat, republicanism was still a potent political force. the state was almost bankrupt, faced with enormous reconstruction costs but saddled with large, expensive, and truculent security forces. Yet economic recovery required not only the restoration of order but a reduction in the level of state taxation and spending, and hence radical cuts in the security machine on which the state depended for survival. What was to be done?

There were five strands to the government's response to these issues. These were a gradual switch to civilian policing, ameliorative land legislation, the establishment of a coherent civil court system, a careful relaxation of emergency . . .

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