Probus Dún Laoghaire Marine
Talks's Reports
Hon. Secretary Notes (The Arms Trial 1970 - what did Jack know? Dr Michael Heney)
Published on 04/02/2019

Probus Dunlaoghaire Marine

Monday 4 February 2019

Royal St. George Yacht Club

Frank Sheridan (President), John Bolton, (Vice – President), Paddy MacManus (Treasurer), Myles Duffy (immediate Past President),Raymond Burke, John O’ Neill, John Ryan (Secretary).


1. The President welcomed all members to the fifth meeting of 2019.

2. The President welcomed and introduced guests attending the meeting –

Jim Lillis, Daithi O Ceallaigh (former ambassador to the Court of St. James), and Joe Joyce the journalist and author.

3. The President said that he was advised on Friday that our scheduled speaker Colum Eastwood leader of the SDLP, was cancelling his talk because of the arrival in Belfast this morning of the deputy leader of the British Labour Party who wanted to meet all local party leaders to discuss Brexit.

The President said that our speaker this morning Michael Heney graciously agreed to move forward his talk scheduled for later this month and thanked him most sincerely on behalf of all members for doing so at such short notice.

The President said that Michael is going to talk about an event which given the age profile of the club all members would remember and which at the time took everybody by surprise.

The abrupt dismissal by the Taoiseach Jack Lynch of Charles Haughey then Minister for Finance and Neil Blaney Minister for Agriculture and Fisheries allegedly because of their involvement in a plan to import weapons to arm nationalists in Northern Ireland. Kevin Boland Minister for Social Welfare resigned his position in sympathy with the two dismissed Ministers and the Minister for Justice Michael O’ Morain resigned under pressure from the Taoiseach Jack Lynch. Four Ministers out of a Cabinet of fourteen losing their jobs was an event without parallel in modern Ireland. Michael Heney will this morning give us as they say in tabloid journalism the untold story.

Michael Heney is in every sense an expert on this important historical chapter. In June 2018 he was awarded a PHD by University College Dublin for his doctoral thesis entitled “Unresolved Aspects of the 1970 Arms Crisis revisiting the roles played by Jack Lynch, Charles Haughey, Niall Blaney and James Gibbons. The President reminded members that James Gibbons was Minister for Defence at the time and it is important for to bear in mind that the dismissed Ministers (Charles Haughey and Neill Blayney) contended that he was well aware of the plan to import weapons which Gibbons at all times denied.

Michael is about to complete a book on this series of events and it will be published in the coming months.

Michael has had a long career in journalism. He was a journalist with the Irish Times from 1967-1971 specialising on education matters. Subsequent to that he was with RTE radio for four years working on the “News at One Thirty” and also on the “This week” programme broadcast every Sunday.

Following that Michael spent the following thirty three years in RTE Television as a reporter and producer / director working on the programmes “Today – Tonight”, “Prime Time Investigates” and “RTE investigates” until his retirement in 2010 following which he has pursued the unresolved issues arising from various programmes he made in 2001 on the arms crisis.

Apologies –

Noel O’ Reilly

Michael Cotter

Lorcan MacConaonaigh

Kevin O Malley

Tim Magennis