Jack Lynch (1917-99)

Criticism


Life
b. Cork city; ed. Christian Brothers’ North Monastery; Leaving Cert., 1936; former GAA hurling champion playing for Glen Rovers and Cork, 1936-50; four-times successive winner of All-Ireland hurling; also played Gaelic football, winning the Dublin and considered the finest dual-player of all time; holder of give All-Ireland titles; took first employment with the Dublin District Milk Board; returned to Cork and worked as clerk on the Cork Circuit Court; took night-courses in Law at UCC, and transferred to UCD and King's Inns after two years; bar 1945, while working at Dept. of Justice; commenced practice in Cork; m. and married Mairin O'Connor, Aug. 1946 (no children);
 
elected TD for Cork, 1948-81; served as Minister for Finance, 1965–66, succeeding Seán Lemass; Minister for Industry and Commerce, 1959–65, Minister for Education, 1957–59, Minister for the Gaeltacht, 1957) and Parliamentary Secretary; elected Taoiseach 1966; travelled to Stormont to meet Terence O'Neill (NI PM), Dec. 1967, and met again in Dublin, 8 Jan 1968; presided over Haughey Arms Trial, 1970; ovesaw Irish entry in to European Community, 1 Jan. 1973; suffered parliamentary defeat by Labour and Fine Gael, Feb. 1973; successfully sponsored Erskine Childers for Presidency; rehabilated Charles Haughey as opposition spokesman on Health; gained by coalition embarrassment when Cearbhall Ó Dálaigh resigned presidency on being called a ‘thundering disgrace’ by Paddy Donegan (Min. of Defence); Fianna Fáil candidate Patrick Hillery replaces Ó Dálaigh, 3 Dec. 1976;
 
relected with 20-seat majority, 1977, being Fianna Fáil govt. leader to secure an overall majority in the Dáil; tenure on power injured by five-month Postal Strike; his leadership challenged by Sile de Valera in 1916 commemoration speech following security his talks with Thatcher, Aug. 1979; made official visit to USA in Nov. 1979; appt. President of European Community and resigned from office at the conclusion of his stint, 5 Dec. 1979; succeeded in premiership by Haughey in narrow contest with George Colley; retired from Dail Eireann, 1981; received the Freedom of the City of Cork; d. 20 Oct. 1999; the Jack Lynch tunnel under the Lee was named in his honour, May 2000.

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Criticism
Dermot Keogh, Jack Lynch (Dublin: Gill & Macmillan 2009), 544pp.

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Commentary
Joseph Lee, Ireland 1912-1985: Politics and Society (Cambridge UP 1989), ‘The Northern virus inevitably infected the Southern body politic. The wonder is that it infected it so little for so long. This was partly due to the quarantine measures adopted by Jack Lynch. His own instinct was against involvement. But he had to tread carefully. “Re-unification” held ritualistic pride of place not only on the agenda of “national aims” but in Fianna Fáil rhetoric. Public opinion, as far as one can tell in the absence of specific surveys, had subscribed overwhelmingly to the aspiration of a united Ireland since partition, at least as long as nothing need be done about it. In 1969 the majority seemed to be mainly concerned to prevent the problem spilling over into the South, while at the same time being anxious to protect Catholics in the North from feared Protestant pogroms. Lynch thus found himself confronting a confused popular instinct, searching for a way to do nothing while persuading itself of its anxiety to do something. How to disengage from the implications of the rhetoric without affronting self-respect required a sustained mastery of shuffle techniques.’ (p.458; quoted in Conor McCarthy, Modernisation: Crisis and Culture in Ireland 1969-1992, Dublin: Four Courts Press 2000, p.62.)

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Quotations
N. Ireland Troubles (RTE address of August 1969): ‘It is clear now that the present situation cannot be allowed to continue. It is evident also that the Stormont government is no longer in control of the situation. Indeed, the present situation is the inevitable outcome of the policies pursued for decades by successive Stormont governments. It is clear also that the Irish Government can no longer stand by and see innocent people injured and perhaps worse. It is obvious that the RUC is no longer accepted as an impartial police force. Neither would the employment of British troops be acceptable nor would they be likely to restore peaceful conditions, certainly not in the long term. The Irish Government have, therefore, requested the British Government to apply immediately to the United Nations for the urgent dispatch of a Peace-Keeping Force to the Six Counties of Northern Ireland and have instructed the Permanent Representative to the United Nations to inform the Secretary General of this request. We have also asked the British Government to see to it that police attacks on the people of Derry should cease immediately. / Very many people have been injured and some of them seriously. We know that many of these do not wish to be treated in Six County hospitals. We have, therefore, directed the Irish Army authorities to have field hospitals established in County Donegal adjacent to Derry and at other points along the Border where they may be necessary. / Recognising, however, that the re-unification of the national territory can provide the only permanent solution for the problem, it is our intention to request the British Government to enter into early negotiations with the Irish Government to review the present constitutional position of the Six Counties of Northern Ireland.’