chapter  18
80 Pages

Internment in the Republic of Ireland

July 1957–March 1959
WithSeán McConville

For all its ambivalences about Northern Ireland, de Valera’s government was firm in its belief in the rule of law. By July 1957, internment had been in operation in Northern Ireland for seven months. It was, of course, largely a preventive measure, and, apart from the sometimes unreliable and incomplete intelligence on which it was based, Northern internment was to some extent nullified by the existence of a nearby and effortlessly accessible haven in the Republic. The Curragh received its first internees on Monday, 8 July 1957, following the execution of the sixty-three internment orders. Visiting privileges remained at one family visit per month, but since the ICRC inspection, facilities had been improved, and the average duration of visits, even at weekends, was around one hour. Staff–inmate relations were relatively good – ‘very benign’ as one leading internee put it.