Why did Lynch go on holidays?

Published in 20th-century / Contemporary History, Features, Issue 4 (Jul/Aug 2009), Troubles in Northern Ireland, Volume 17

If the myopia of the British Labour government in early August 1969 is hard to fathom, it is equally difficult to understand why Lynch felt he could start his annual leave only a few days before the predicted outbreak of open conflict in Derry and right across Northern Ireland. Detailed contingency plans needed to be put in place. All holidays should have been cancelled. Government departments needed to be prepared. The Irish army had to be equipped and placed on stand-by to deal with the humanitarian crisis. Intelligence-gathering by the Special Branch, army intelligence (G2) and the Departments of Defence, Justice and External Affairs required careful coordination. In retrospect, it is easy to diagnose what preparations needed to have been made by the government in August 1969. Even if the Irish government had correctly analysed the potential for conflict—and it had—the scale of what was to transpire was unprecedented.

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