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Behind Closed Doors

1977

Behind Closed Doors

Behind Closed Doors

Introduction

1977 saw an historic general election victory for Fianna Fáil and Jack Lynch, who won the biggest Dáil majority in the history of the State, thanks in part to an election manifesto which has been subsequently criticised for promising too much and for plunging the country into debt.

The year also saw continuing tensions between Dublin and London. Firstly over the trial of eight SAS men who were found, armed to the teeth, on the southern side of the border, and later by the return to power of a more Republican-leaning Fianna Fáil.

This year's programme includes contributions from Richie Ryan (Minister for Finance in the Coalition), Garret FitzGerald (Coalition Minister for Foreign Affairs), Brendan Halligan (Labour Party TD and General Secretary), Seamus Brennan (Fianna Fáil General Secretary), Martin O'Donoghue (Fianna Fáil Minister for Economic Planning and Development, and the driving force behind the Manifesto), and Michael O'Kennedy (Fianna Fáil Minister for Foreign Affairs).

Secret Mission

The newly released State papers show that London was far more worried about the SAS trial than had been publicly realised.

London was so worried, in fact, that Prime Minister Jim Callaghan sent a special envoy on a secret mission to Dublin to seek assurances about the men's treatment from Taoiseach Liam Cosgrave.

Doomsday: Watch clip

The 1977 election was the one the Fine Gael/Labour coalition was not supposed to lose - thanks to a constituency revision by Local Government Minister Jimmy Tully.

But after four years in Opposition, Fianna Fáil had other ideas, with an American-style campaign, and a very attractive, crowd pleasing Manifesto.

Downing Street show-down

The British were understandably concerned about the return to Government of Fianna Fáil, especially as the party had committed itself, while in Opposition, to seek a British declaration of intent to withdraw from Northern Ireland.

So when Jack Lynch sought a meeting with Jim Callaghan, the Prime Minister was very clear about what he would, and would not, discuss.

It was also the year when Queen Elizabeth visited Northern Ireland, but not everyone was happy to see her.

Happy ever after?

Fianna Fáil had won the greatest majority in the history of the State, thanks in part to its Manifesto.

But implementing those promises - including the abolition of car tax and domestic rates - would later be blamed for leading the country into the economic crisis of the 1980s.

Behind Closed Doors: Watch the show in full Watch clip

 

David McCullagh, Behind Closed Doors:


 David, McCullagh, Political Correspondent, Stephen Collins, Political Editor of The Irish Times, and Eamon Phoenix, political historian at Stranmillis University College, discuss the 1977 Government papers that have just been made public


 David McCullagh, Political Correspondent, outlines the details contained in the newly released documents


 David McCullagh, Political Correspondent, reports that the documents cast new light on a the Loyalist strike, and how the Government responded to claims of Garda brutality


 David McCullagh, Political Correspondent, reports on new information revealed in the State papers



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