58 The Arms Crisis
The deteriorating relations between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland reached a crisis point in this political scandal involving two serving cabinet ministers of the Irish Government.
Charles Haughey (Minister for Finance) and Neil Blaney (Minister for Fisheries and Agriculture) were dismissed after they were accused of attempting to smuggle arms from the South to the IRA in the North, assisted by Captain James Kelly, an Irish Army intelligence offer. As a result of the escalating violence in the North, Jack Lynch’s Government had provided a support fund (￡100,000) for Nationalist families forced from their homes; Haughey had been assigned control of this sum.
Haughey and Blaney were critical of the Republic’s lack of direct
action in its policies concerning the North, and what they
saw were sectarian motivated activities from a pro-Unionist
paramilitary force, viewing the IRA as simply defenders of
weaker, Catholic enclaves. At the resulting trial, all charges
against Blaney were withdrawn, and Haughey and Kelly were
found not guilty. Haughey was demoted to the backbenches,
but in 1979, Charles Haughey would become Taoiseach.
You can listen to the RTE documentary about this event here Gunplot.