Documents on Irish Foreign Policy v. 13: 1965-1969
Published by Royal Irish Academy
The thirteenth volume in the Documents on Irish Foreign Policy (DIFP) series runs from April 1965 to July 1969. It covers the Fianna Fáil governments of Seán Lemass (April 1965 to November 1966) and Jack Lynch (November 1966 to July 1969) in which Frank Aiken was Minister for External Affairs.
The four years and three months covered by DIFP XIII saw significant changes in the international context in which Ireland conducted its foreign policy. In 1965 the hope of the Department of External Affairs was that Ireland would enter the European Economic Community (EEC) before 1970. EEC entry would take place alongside that of Britain, an Anglo-Irish Free Trade Area (AIFTA) having come into operation in 1966, cementing trade between Ireland and its principal trading partner. Overall, the United Nations would remain the benchmark of global Irish foreign policy. Peacekeeping, advocating nuclear non-proliferation and ensuring the proper financing of the United Nations as well as promoting decolonisation and the universality of the United Nations system within the bipolar world of the Cold War remained central to 1960s Irish foreign policy.
These assumptions were thrown out of balance by the continuing refusal of France to facilitate the expansion of the EEC and EEC membership remained out of reach for Ireland. Dublin’s fragile relations with Belfast were destabilised with the emergence of new social and political forces in Northern Ireland and the recurrence of sectarian violence. The Department of External Affairs proved initially unable to respond comprehensively to this new environment in Northern Ireland, which was the precursor to the outbreak of the Troubles in 1969. Improved economic and political relations with London were affected by local and international economic difficulties and also as a consequence of events in Northern Ireland. At the United Nations, superpower politics constrained Irish attempts to follow up the success of the 1968 Nuclear Non- Proliferation Treaty with a major policy initiative on the financing of international peacekeeping missions.
In the press
- Dublin Review of Books, February 2023 reviewed by Rory Montgomery MRIA - 'Before the Deluge' "One of the pleasures of this volume, as of other recent volumes which have moved into the period of living memory, is to note the ways in which the Ireland of then was very different from that of today."
- RTE, January 2023: Times change: David McCullagh on Irish foreign policy in the 60s
- January 2023 issue of History Ireland carries an article on the Nigerian-Biafran conflict based on some of the documents in the volume.
- A short series for the National Archives ‘Files in Focus’ series, exploring documents about the Irish message brought to the Moon by Apollo 11, the vexed issue of landing rights for US airlines in Ireland, and the resignation of French president Charles de Gaulle.
- RTÉ Brainstorm – landing rights and de Gaulle’s attitude to Ireland and an account of what the Australian’s thought of the Irish in the late 1960s
- Article in The Irish Times by John Gibney looked at the impact of the emergence of the Troubles on Irish-America, as reflected in many of the documents in the volume.
In case you missed John Gibney's presentation on DIFP at Research Day 2022, watch it here:
Images reproduced by permission of the Director of the National Archives.