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Sunday, 23 October 2016

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23 October 1970: In one of the most dramatic and controversial trials of in the history of Modern Ireland Charles J. Haughey, Captain James Kelly, John Kelly and Albert Luykx were all acquitted of the charges against them of attempting to illegally import Arms into the State. This marked the end of an extraordinary series of political and legal events, which had begun on 6 May that year when Cabinet Ministers Charles Haughey and Neil Blaney were sacked from Jack Lynch’s Government. Their summary dismissal was over alleged improprieties in the importation of weapons through Dublin. It was believed that these were for use by the Catholics in the North against further sectarian attacks.

Though they vehemently denied the allegation they and others were put on trial on 28 May. The charges against Blaney were dropped in the District Court July 2, 1970 and as a result he was not tried. The main trial got underway under Justice Aindrias O'Caoimh. The trial collapsed a week later after allegations of bias. A 2nd trial began but no concrete evidence was ever presented that could secure a prosecution against the defendants. Following a second trial the other four defendants were cleared on October 23.

The involvement of Haughey in all of this remains decidedly murky but he would seem to have had good grounds for believing that certain rivals within Fianna Fail shafted him. There were definitely political opponents who wished to stop his rise to power within the Party and his expected takeover one day.

If so they were to be disappointed. Though it took Haughey nine long hard years to climb his way back to the top he achieved his life long ambition and unseated Jack Lynch as Taoiseach in December 1979. But the shadow of 1970 was to haunt his political reputation forever....