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168. Telegram From the Department of State to the Embassy in Ireland1

153852. Subject: Irish Request for US Representation to UK. Ref: State 149588.2

1. Irish Ambassador Warnock called August 20 on instructions and delivered to Acting Assistant Secretary Fessenden copies of Lynch/Heath telegraphic exchange of August 19 and Lynch’s statement of August 20 in reply to Heath.3 He then asked about his request of August 13 (reftel).

2. Fessenden replied that we feel deep humanitarian concern over the human suffering in Northern Ireland, that the request of the Irish Government had been considered at high level, but we do not consider that constructive end would be served by any approach we could make to the British.

3. Irish Ambassador replied that he recognized problem but mentioned several times that “even an expression of humanitarian concern would be useful.” Fessenden replied that non-intervention was a cardinal point in American policy, and that although he realized intervention was not being requested, it is still difficult for us to see how any step we might take with British would really help situation.

4. Irish Ambassador ended discussion by stating that he expected he would be coming in often to keep us apprised of NI situation during crisis.4 He also mentioned that Counselor O’Heideain5 would be attending meeting on Northern Ireland situation called by Mayor Daley in Chicago for August 24.

Johnson
  1. Source: National Archives, RG 59, Central Files 1970–73, POL 23–9 UK. Limited Official Use; Priority. Drafted by Robert DuBose (EUR/BMI), cleared by Scott George (EUR/BMI), and approved by Fessenden. Repeated to London and Belfast.
  2. Dated August 13. It summarized Lynch’s August 12 statement on Northern Ireland. (Ibid.) Lynch called for the restructuring of the Northern Irish Government and spoke against the use of violence as a means to effect political change.
  3. On August 16, Heath had stated that he would not recall Parliament to discuss the situation in Northern Ireland. On August 19, Lynch telegraphed Heath, informing him that he would support acts of passive resistance by Catholics unless Britain abandoned the use of “military solutions” to solve the Northern Ireland problem. Heath’s reply characterized Lynch’s message as “unacceptable in its attempt to intervene in the affairs of the United Kingdom.” (“Heath Rejects Wilson Move,” New York Times, August 17, 1971, p. 7; Anthony Lewis, “Wilson Asks Commons Debate on Ulster,” New York Times, August 21, 1971, p. 3)
  4. See Document 346.
  5. Sean O’Heideain.