chapter  17
46 Pages

Be Careful what you Wish

The Republic of Ireland in the 1950s
WithSeán McConville

The timing of Dublin’s initiative was ill judged, coming as it did rather less than a week into the Border Campaign. British Ambassador, Sir Richard Clutterbuck's proposal was that, in addition to affirming commitment of the 1949 Act and the constitutional status quo, he should be authorised to say that if, at any time, the Irish government had specific ideas they wished to outline to the UK government ‘as a preliminary to a possible approach to the North’, he would be at their disposal. This proposal was as ill judged and ill timed as the head of coalition John Costello’s had been and, in the circumstances, inflammatory in its potential. The Cabinet had considered the matter, and Clutterbuck was directed that the oral response to Irish representations should be confined to a reiteration of London’s adherence to the Ireland Act, 1949, and advice that building cooperation with Northern Ireland on practical administrative matters was the best way forward.