September 21st 2020

Delma Sweeney

Today the Community & Vocation Committee speak to us about the “Ask Rotary” initiative.” We will also hold a short EGM.
Forthcoming Speakers and Events
Sept 28th Representative of the Scottish Government in Dublin: Scottish Office
Oct 05th “Bordeaux Vintage Wine and the Irish, Wild Geese:” Hechem Cherif.
Oct 12th “Glencree Reconciliation Centre” Barbara Walshe, Chair of the Board.
Oct 19th “75 anniversary of the United Nations” Lalini Veerassamy.
Oct 26th Public Holiday
Nov 16th “Prisoner Liaison Project:” Barry Owens of IASIO.
VP Alexander Kopf was in the chair last week as President Alan was speaking to the Belfast Club.
Brian George gave the “Thought for the Day.”

Rotary Rangers Walks
Sept 22nd Bray to Greystones
Sept 29th Lough Ouler, Military Road
Social distancing rules will apply. More details are available from PP Brian George.
Apologies
Hon Sec Tony McCourt gave apologies from Patrick White; Kevin McAnallan; President Alan; Rana Al Damin; Tom O'Neill and David Booth.

Attendees
At last week’s virtual meeting there were 22 attendees. Our one visitor was Eamonn Allen.

President’s Announcements
President Alan reported that the call put out on radio for Bikes4Africa had resulted in a number of people contacting our club with the offer of a bicycle. Research showed that while there are 10 collection sites in Ireland there are none in Dublin. Additionally, Loughlan House, where the bikes are refurbished, is at full capacity. Thank you, letters were sent, explaining this to the potential donators.
Last Week’s Speakers
Paul Loughlin introduced last week's speaker Michael Heney, author of “The Arms Crisis of 1970: The Plot that Never Was.” He told us that Michael began his career in the Irish Times. He then worked in radio and on television, mainly in current affairs and investigative journalism. Paul noted that Nicky Kelly, had his conviction for the Sallins’ train robbery overturned and received a Presidential pardon due to the research conducted by Michael.
Michael began his presentation by reminding us that it is 50 years since the Arms Crisis or, “How Jack Lynch got Away with It.” He believes that the Arms Crisis is one of the main events in Ireland in the 20th century. The crisis broke when the Taoiseach Jack Lynch, fired two of his Ministers, Charles Haughey and Neil Blaney. Charles Haughey, Captain James Kelly, John Kelly of the IRA and Belgian businessman Albert Luykx, were charged with, and subsequently acquitted of, importing arms and ammunition for the Defence Committees in the North in 1970. In the event the arms were not imported. The question arose in the public mind: Were they planning to rearm the IRA? Were they planning to get rid of Jack Lynch? What most believed was that Jack Lynch was betrayed by Haughey and that Lynch saved the country from an internal war. There are four myths about the Arms Crisis. These are:
Myth 1: A crisis arose because the Taoiseach uncovered a plot.
Myth 2: That there was an attempt to rearm the IRA and break partition.
Myth 3: Captain James Kelly was involved in the plot.
Myth 4: The Arms Trial was justified and the result was wrong.
Michael told us that his book has had high praise in the media. All of his sources from the archives are referenced in the book.
He went on to tell a story at the time of the trial about Charles Haughey which illustrated his nature. To set a context for the story he reminded us that Haughey had a lot to lose from the trial. He was a sacked Minister of Government. His solicitor, Pat O’Connor and his team met for lunch in a conference room each day. The fare was ordinary. One day at their break, Haughey’s barrister, Niall McCarthy produced a white napkin and opened a quality lunch pack, including lobster, to the surprise of the team. Haughey said to him “I regret that our fare does not please you.” Some days later Haughey told the team to hurry down early to the conference room, but did not tell McCarthy. The team found a set table, white linen and cut glass, silver service and a smoked salmon display. There were chairs for everyone but not McCarthy. When he arrived Haughey said, “I thought that you would have your own fare.” Michael posits that this event illustrates Haughey’s strength of character, given that he was under such pressure at the time.
Michael told us that confusion arises relating to the Arms Crisis because of the sheer number of lies told by all the principal characters. His book draws the conclusion that Jack Lynch made 30/40 false statements, many to Dail Eireann. Gibbons and Haughey did not tell the truth. Nevertheless, deceptions are only part of the story. Lynch had a hidden agenda. He was prepared to support the Catholic Nationalists, with guns if necessary, but not to rearm the IRA and not to break partition. He was scared that there would be serious loss of life in this population if there was no intervention. At the end he had to have scapegoats, who were Charles Haughey, Captain James Kelly, and Colonel Michael Heffernan. The latter two were victims in the affair and both emerge with credit. His book shows that the trial should not have taken place. The truth should have been revealed in 2001 with the evidence of Colonel Heffernan but the state covered this up. Michael concludes that if Lynch had not acted his government would not have survived. Michael’s book belatedly reveals the facts. Fifty years on and we are still struggling to get the truth.
Frank Bannister gave the vote of thanks.

DUCK RACE: A Video (edited by Eamonn Allen) and photos of the Duck Race are now up on our website for all to see www.rotarydublin.ie.
BOOK CLUB: The next Book Club meeting is online at 17.00 on 7th October. “A Thousand Moons” by Sebastian Barry is this month’s choice by Mary O’Rafferty. Contact Delma Sweeney at delma.sweeney@mu.ie if you wish to join the Club.

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