• U.S.

NORTHERN IRELAND: Off the Deep End

3 minute read
TIME

The troubles of Northern Ireland boiled over in many directions last week. In Dublin, the capital of the Irish Republic to the south, Prime Minister John Lynch attacked the British for troop violations of his border, and threatened to call upon the United Nations to police the area.

In Amsterdam, Dutch police seized a planeload of Czech-made arms flown from Prague and allegedly intended for the outlawed Irish Republican Army to use in its campaign to oust British troops from Ulster. They also arrested the Belgian pilot of the charter aircraft and an American who was charged with importing arms without a license.

In London, demands mounted for an open investigation into published reports (see THE PRESS) that I.R.A. suspects in Belfast were being brainwashed and tortured. In Ulster itself, where at least ten more died in one of the bloodiest weeks thus far, the British were blowing up roads along the Ulster-Eire border to stop gunrunning. They also boosted their troop force to 13,500 men.

Perhaps the biggest brouhaha of all originated in the U.S. Senate over a resolution by Democratic Senators Edward Kennedy and Abraham Ribicoff calling for the withdrawal of British troops from Northern Ireland and talks leading to a united Ireland. “Ulster is becoming Britain’s Viet Nam,” said Kennedy in a speech. “America cannot keep silent when men and women of Ireland are dying. Britain has lost its way, and the innocent people of Northern Ireland are the ones who now must suffer . . . The tragedy of Ulster is yet another chapter in the unfolding larger tragedy of the empire. It is India, Palestine, Cyprus and Africa once again.”

Hoary Propaganda. The speech caused hardly a ripple in the U.S., but from Belfast to Whitehall it reaped a whirlwind of scorn. Kennedy, declared Northern Ireland’s Prime Minister Brian Faulkner, “has shown himself willing to swallow hook, line and sinker the hoary old propaganda that I.R.A. atrocities are carried out as part of a freedom fight on behalf of the Northern Irish people.” Other critics quickly pointed out that Kennedy’s proposal for unification was unrealistic, and that even the Irish Republic’s Lynch has said only that he hopes unification can be achieved in his lifetime. In the London Times, Louis Heren said that “[Kennedy’s] assertion that the U.S. was entitled to intervene because of the Irish contributions to American culture” amounts to “an ethnic Brezhnev doctrine.”

The British Foreign Office declined to comment, but a Conservative M.P. introduced a motion in the House of Commons questioning the Senator’s qualifications “for expressing moral judgments on anything”—an obvious reference to the 1969 Chappaquiddick tragedy. In a cutting cartoon, the London Evening Standard showed a crusty clubman growling over his port: “Looks like Kennedy’s driven in at the deep end again.”

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