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Title: Irish government security policy along the border 1969-1978
Author: Mulroe , Patrick
ISNI:       0000 0004 5914 9854
Awarding Body: Ulster University
Current Institution: Ulster University
Date of Award: 2016
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This research examines the role played by Irish security forces along the border with Northern Ireland between 1969 and 1978. Security policy posed particular problems for the southern state. By cooperating with the RUC and British Army against republicans, there was a risk of re-igniting latent republican sentiment in a state with a nationalist ethos at its core. Meanwhile, the IRA had the expressed aim of taking over the southern state and in many ways presented as great a threat to the southern state as it did to Northern Ireland. The implications of this dilemma are central to the study. There has been consistent criticism of the Irish security response to violence during this period from the media, British security sources and political figures. This remains one of the least researched 'legacy' issues associated with the troubles which this thesis now addresses. Using sources from official archives in Dublin and London, newspaper archives, the reports of official inquiries as well as other published sources the thesis reveals some significant findings. First, the notion that all cross border violence resulted from lax security south of the border is erroneous. Second, considerable new information on cross border security cooperation emerges from the archives, showing that cooperation was better in some parts of the border than others. There is evidence of discrete unofficial cooperation taking place in some areas but not in others. Third, archive material supports the view that successive Irish governments privately favoured such discrete cooperation. FOUlth, there was considerable animosity between republican groups and the Irish security forces. However, action against republicans was not necessarily accompanied by security cooperation with UK forces. Overt cooperation with British security forces risked destabilising the southern state. Chapters follow a consistent pattern of evidence and are structured according to a strict template. They examine first, the nature of political relations within the Republic of Ireland and with its neighbour; second, the state of the Irish security forces; and third, the general security situation along the border. By examining the political background the thesis demonstrates that the Irish state was essentially "weak" in socio political terms and placed primary emphasis on domestic security. The state was also weak in material terms with the Gardai and Irish Army both poorly organised and equipped. The security forces were, therefore, primarily tasked with ensuring domestic stability and this meant the focus of their actions was on combating the republican threat. Other threats, notably from loyalists, were downplayed. In border areas at stages during the early 1970s, the thesis confirms that republican sentiment was strong and it is shown that this created considerable friction with the Irish security forces. Levels of violence were also high along the border with significant numbers of casualties. This violence emphasised to decision makers in Dublin that there was a possibility of conflict spreading southward. Contrary to some suggestions, the thesis argues that levels of sympathy for republican activists within the security institutions of the southern state were low. While some individuals did collude with republican activists, such incidents were the exception not the rule. Overall, the thesis demonstrates that the Irish state took substantial action to deal with the IRA within the boundaries of the twenty six counties with the role of the Special Criminal Court particularly significant in this regard. Nevertheless, both security and political leaders were unsure as to whether the Irish state could survive the instability associated with overt cooperation with the British security forces.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available