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Head of Zeus
The Arms Crisis of 1970
The Arms Crisis of 1970: The Plot that Never Was Michael Heney

The arms crisis of 1970 came about when two Irish cabinet ministers, Charles Haughey and Neil Blaney, alongside an army officer and other figures, were accused by Taoiseach Jack Lynch of smuggling arms to the IRA in Northern Ireland.

The criminal prosecution that followed, the Arms Trial, was a cause celebre at the time; while it resulted in the acquittal of all the accused, the political crisis it generated was one of the major events of late twentieth-century Irish history.

In the fifty years since, myth and controversy has surrounded the trial and its aftermath. Was the country really on the brink of a bloody civil war involving North and South? Did the two Ministers sacked by Lynch help generate the bloody campaign of the Provisional IRA – or were they set up by the Taoiseach as fall guys for an arms plot that was unofficially authorized but always deniable by Lynch? Was there, as is often claimed, a kind of coup in preparation that Lynch's prompt action foiled?

A great deal of astonishing new evidence has been uncovered by Michael Heney in his research for this book, raising serious questions about Lynch and his relationship with future Taoiseach Charles Haughey. The book also contains the first comprehensive investigation into how the arms trial prosecution was mounted, and how the jury came to their verdict of acquittal. Heney's meticulous scholarship challenges much of the conventional wisdom about these sensational events.

The Arms Crisis of 1970 is a major contribution to our understanding of a pivotal moment in postwar Irish history.

Head of Zeus, an Apollo book * History
02 Apr 2020 * 448pp * £8.99 * 9781789545616
'Michael Heney, a former RTÉ journalist who has spent the 50 years since the Arms Crisis considering it more deeply, has written a fascinating and thoroughly researched book about this episode and found new evidence'
The Times
'As a former journalist with RTÉ for over 40 years, Heney knows how to tell a story and keep an audience hooked ... It's written with the pace and drama of a political thriller, with characters that you just couldn't invent'
Irish Independent
'Heney tracks these key players' movements like pieces on a chess board, constantly asking the fundamental questions of who knew what and when ... Heney's detective skills deserve great respect and he has written an undeniably important book'
Sunday Business Post
'Heney's book is a reminder of how a version of the frictions that led to splits in Sinn Féin and the foundation of Fianna Fáil in the 1920s surfaced again in the late 1960s and early 1970s'

Michael Heney

Michael Heney
Dr. Michael Heney is a former award-winning journalist and producer with RTE Television, having previously worked with the Irish Times and with RTE Radio. A Fellow of the World Press Institute in Macalester College in Minneapolis/ St. Paul, his achievements include two Jacobs Television awards, Cross Broadcaster of the Year, and Liam Hourican European Journalist of the Year. His television exposés on the criminal convictions of the Tallaght Two led to the verdicts in that case being overturned in the Irish Court of Criminal Appeal. Since retiring from journalism in 2010, Michael has conducted six years of full-time academic investigation into the 1970 Arms Crisis, for which he was awarded firstly an MA (2014), and later a Ph.D (2018) by University College Dublin. He lives in Dublin.