Documents on Irish Foreign Policy: v. 12: 1961-1965

by  Michael KennedyEunan O'HalpinBernadette Whelan
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Book Details

Published by Royal Irish Academy

November 2020


Number of pages: 939

ISBN: 9781911479253


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From 1961 to 1965 Irish foreign policy embarked on new directions. Under Taoiseach Seán Lemass Ireland sought membership of the EEC, a process which stalled temporarily in 1963 when French President Charles de Gaulle vetoed Britain’s application for EEC membership and Ireland’s application, along with applications of Denmark and Norway, was halted a result.

Away from Europe the first half of the 1960s saw Irish diplomats at the United Nations develop Ireland’s position as an independent-minded member of the organisation and Ireland took steps to promote nuclear non-proliferation, decolonisation and the effective financing of peacekeeping operations. In 1962 Ireland sat on the Security Council for a temporary term which coincided with the Cuban Missile crisis. 

Ireland’s Defence Forces continued to serve with United Nations peacekeeping missions. With the end of the UN’s mandate in the Congo in 1963 Irish soldiers joined the first units of UN peacekeepers deployed to Cyprus with UNFICYP in 1964.

DIFP XII covers these major themes, but it also includes significant documents on the June 1963 visit of President John F Kennedy to Ireland, early steps taken to create Ireland’s development aid policy and the opening of Irish missions in Nigeria and India.

British-Irish relations and North-South relations receive considerable attention as Dublin and London took steps to establish a free trade area in the aftermath of the failure of Britain’s EEC entry talks and on the island of Ireland Seán Lemass and Prime Minister of Northern Ireland Terence O’Neill met to seek common ground between Dublin and Belfast in areas of cross-border co-operation.

One area of interest the volume reveals for the first time is the extent to which Seán Lemass controlled the exercise of Ireland’s foreign policy, often instructing Minister for External Affairs Frank Aiken as to the direction Irish foreign policy should take.

About the authors

Michael Kennedy

Dr Michael Kennedy has for almost three decades written and published widely on modern Irish history, in particular on Irish military and diplomatic history and on Irish foreign policy. He has been the executive editor of the RIA's Documents on Irish Foreign Policy series and head of the DIFP series since 1997. Previously he lectured in Irish and European history at Queen's University, Belfast and received his doctorate from the NUI in 1994 on the early history of Ireland’s relationship with the League of Nations.  Michael appears regularly on television and radio discussing aspects of Irish history ranging from lighthouses to embassies to the history of curry houses in Dublin. Michael is a former member of the Irish Manuscripts Commission, a Research Associate of the Centre for Contemporary Irish History, Trinity College, Dublin and was a Visiting Professor at Liverpool Hope University from 2009 to 2018. He was also formerly an adjunct Professor of History at University College Dublin. He is the co-author (with John Gibney and Kate O'Malley) of Ireland: a voice among the nations (Royal Irish Academy, 2019), and (with Daniel Ayiotis and John Gibney) of The Emergency: A visual history of the Irish Defence Forces during the Second World War, 1939-1945 (Eastwood, 2019).

Eunan O'Halpin

Eunan O'Halpin MRIA is the Professor of Contemporary Irish History at Trinity College, Dublin. He is also an editor of the Documents on Irish Foreign Policy series. His most recent publications are: Head of the Civil Service: A Study of Sir Warren Fisher, Defending Ireland: The Irish State and its Enemies since 1922 and MI5 and Ireland, 1939 – 1935. He is a co-editor of Documents on Irish Foreign Policy: Volume I, 1919-22, Documents on Irish Foreign Policy: Volume II, 1923 – 1926 and Documents on Irish Foreign Policy: Volume III, 1926 – 1932. He is currently co-editing a study of Anglo-American security co-operation between 1914 and 1949. For more information about the Documents on Irish Foreign Policy research project please check

Bernadette Whelan