346. Memorandum From the President’s Assistant for National Security Affairs (Kissinger) to President Nixon 1

SUBJECT

  • Heath Informs You on Northern Ireland Situation

Prime Minister Heath has sent you a message through the Chargé of the British Embassy advising you of the decision, announced on August 9, to order internment without trial for IRA guerrillas and to ban all marches and parades (Tab A).2

Brian Faulkner, the Prime Minister of Northern Ireland, came to London last week. He told the British, Heath reports, that he had come to the conclusion that internment was the inevitable course. This was Faulkner’s decision, since the powers under which these measures are taken are powers of the Government of Northern Ireland. However, the [Page 1022]implementation depends on the cooperation of British Army units (British forces in Northern Ireland now total some 12,000).

Heath made it clear to Faulkner that the British forces would not implement an internment decision unless it were accompanied by a complete ban on marches and parades. Faulkner accepted this. As announced, the ban will run for six months, but Heath advises you that he made it clear to Faulkner that the ban will have to be extended beyond that period.

The ban on marches comes just in time. The ban eliminates the August 12 “Protestant Apprentice Boys” parade in Derry, an annual event celebrating the victory over the Roman Catholics in 1689. Irish Prime Minister Lynch on August 7 publicly called for the British Government to stop this parade. Heath notes that he has sent a message to Lynch asking him to react to the internment/parade ban announcement with understanding. Heath also hopes that Lynch will still come to London in October in accordance with a previously scheduled visit.

This clearly has been a difficult decision. The use of internment has been an increasing possibility for the last two months in view of the rising tide of arson, shootings and killings among IRA, British security forces and other groups. Belfast and Derry have been the major scenes of the strife.

I have expressed to the British Embassy, on your behalf, your appreciation for the Prime Minister’s thoughtfulness in providing you with such full information on this decision.3 The British understand that we cannot be drawn into the substance of this issue.

  1. Source: National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Box 728, Country Files—Europe, United Kingdom, Vol. VI. Secret; (UK Top Secret Attachment). Sent for information. The first page is stamped: “The President has seen.”
  2. Not printed.
  3. A copy of Kissinger’s letter, dated August 14, is in the National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Box 728, Country Files—Europe, United Kingdom, Vol. VI. In it Kissinger expressed the President’s “gratitude and understanding” for Heath’s message.