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August Document of the Month

The Irish government, the United Nations and the outbreak of the ‘Troubles’, August 1969

The crisis that erupted in Northern Ireland in August 1969 took the Fianna Fáil government of Jack Lynch by surprise. Following the ‘Battle of the Bogside’ in Derry (12–14 August), the outbreak of widespread sectarian rioting in Belfast and the deployment of the British army in both cities (14 August), Lynch’s government tried to formulate their response.

One suggestion was that the United Nations should be called on to intervene. Despite British opposition to this proposal, Minister for External Affairs Patrick Hillery presented the Irish case for intervention before the UN Security Council on 21 August 1969. While unsuccessful, this was arguably an attempt to bring international attention to bear on the outbreak of the ‘Troubles’ while also reassuring domestic critics that Lynch was treating the crisis with the seriousness it deserved.

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Letter relating to possible intervention by the United Nations to resolve the conflict in Northern Ireland, 15 August 1969

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Letter confirming a formal approach by the government to the United Nations regarding the conflict in Northern Ireland, 16 August 1969

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Letter with aide-memoire of a meeting between Irish and British ministers, 16 August 1969

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