One of the main topics covered by the release of the State Papers for 1982 is the Falklands War and the Irish government's response to it. When the Argentinians invaded the islands, Ireland originally sided with the international consensus in opposing the takeover. However, the FF government's position changed sharply after the British sank the Belgrano.
There are very differing views of the government's approach in the weekend papers. Deaglán de Breadún in the Irish Times suggests thatFirst out of the blocks was minister for defence Paddy Power who told a Fianna Fáil meeting at Edenderry, Co Offaly: “Obviously Britain themselves are very much the aggressors now.” He linked it to a recent incident in which an Irish trawler, the Sharelga, was sunk when a British submarine, HMS Porpoise, got entangled in the fishing nets.
Ireland was a member of the United Nations Security Council at the time and, on May 4th, the Haughey government issued a statement that it was seeking an immediate meeting of the council to prepare a resolution calling for a ceasefire by both sides, but made no reference to a previous resolution demanding an immediate Argentine withdrawal. The statement also rejected European sanctions as “no longer appropriate”. Although ultimately there was no UN ceasefire resolution and the EEC did renew the sanctions, with Ireland and Italy dissenting, the statement marked a major rift in British-Irish relations.
On the other hand, a rather craven piece in the Sunday Independent by Ronan Fanning, who alleges that Haughey was Anglophobic, posits a very different view:it could be argued that, for all his well-publicised failings as a political leader, this was, in the Churchillian phrase, Charlie’s finest hour.
My own opinion is closer to de Breadún's than Fanning's. The Falklands was an imperial war and the sinking of the Belgrano was a disgraceful act. Given the craven approach of Irish governments, of all hues, in international affairs, it is instructive to remember that previous Taoisigh were willing to stand up against the actions of the larger powers, even if it was not in our short term interest.But this humiliating outcome for Haughey's self-indulgent exercise in Brit-bashing cannot disguise the fact that the damage done to Anglo-Irish relations was immense.
He cast aside whatever residual influence he had with Thatcher at an especially turbulent and dangerous time in Northern Ireland. The result was her statement of July 29, 1982 that "no commitment exists for Her Majesty's government to consult the Irish government on matters affecting Northern Ireland".
He ignored the damage to the Irish economy, especially in regard to inward investment. He ignored the embarrassment and abuse visited on the Irish living in Britain.
By identifying, in effect, with the Argentinian military dictatorship, he undermined Ireland's role in promoting human rights, especially in Latin America; by a strange irony, Ireland was elected to the UN Commission for Human Rights for the first time in the middle of the crisis, on May 6, 1982.
Major rift in relations after British sank 'Belgrano' - The Irish Times - Fri, Dec 28, 2012
Ronan Fanning : Haughey's Brit bashing on Falklands cost us dear - Analysis, Opinion - Independent.ie