The Arms Trial (Justin O Brien)

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In May 1970 two Irish cabinet ministers, Neil Blaney and Charles Haughey, were dismissed by the Taoiseach, Jack Lynch, for allegedly using government money to import arms for the fledgling IRA. It was the early days of the Northern Ireland troubles and the crisis in Belfast and Derry threatened to destabalize the entire island. Blaney and Haughey were subsequently charged, along with three others, with conspiring to import arms. The charges against Blaney were dropped, while Haughey and the other defendants were acquitted in October. Haughey's defence was that he was unaware that the shipment being imported through Dublin contained arms. The other defendants claimed that the entire operation had been sanctioned at the highest levels of the Dublin government. This dramatic moment in modern Irish life is now retold. The book charts the linkages between the struggle for power within the Fianna Fail cabinet and events on the streets of Northern Ireland. The Arms crisis split the Dublin establishment a nd threatened the stability of the Republic of Ireland. It nearly finished the career of Charles Haughey, who spent most of the 1970s in the political wilderness before staging a come-back to power in 1979.