The O'Malley-Haughey meeting

The Berry Papers reveal that the purpose of the secret meeting between Desmond O'Malley, then Minister for Justice, and Charles Haughey, then a defendant in the arms trial, on September 9, 1970, was for the purpose of getting Mr. Peter Berry to withdraw his evidence against Mr. Haughey. The Papers disclose that Mr. Haughey enquired of Mr. O'Malley if Mr. Berry could be "induced", "directed" or "intimidated" into not giving evidence.

The Berry Papers reveal that the purpose of the secret meeting between Desmond O'Malley, then Minister for Justice, and Charles Haughey, then a defendant in the arms trial, on September 9, 1970, was for the purpose of getting Mr. Peter Berry to withdraw his evidence against Mr. Haughey. The Papers disclose that Mr. Haughey enquired of Mr. O'Malley if Mr. Berry could be "induced", "directed" or "intimidated" into not giving evidence.

The meeting took place less than two weeks before the arms trial opened and some weeks after the publication of the Book of Evidence which showed that Mr. Berry would be the main prosecution witness against Mr. Haughey.

Magill has decided to publish Mr. Berry's detailed account of conversations he had with Mr. O'Malley both prior to and immediately after his meeting with Mr. Haughey, because of Mr. O'Malley's continued refusal to respond to questions on the issue and because of Mr. Lynch's disclosure that he had no knowledge of the meeting.

Magill previously withheld publication because there was no corroborating evidence available and because the purpose of the meeting, if it had taken place, might have involved an arrangement between Mr. O'Malley and Mr. Lynch to "sound out" Mr. Haughey. This situation has now changed.

In his statement of July 25 of this year, following the publication of the third part of the Magill series on the 1970 arms crisis, Mr. O'Malley dealt with matters of relative insignificance in an attempt to discredit the reliability of the Berry Papers and of the Magill investigation. His failure to allude at all to the revelation that he had met Mr. Haughey on September 9, 1970, is indirect confirmation that the meeting did in fact take place - had it not taken place, surely Mr. O'Malley would have been more than anxious to show that Mr. Berry had deliberately fabricated an incident to discredit him and that therefore the Berry Papers as a whole would be treated with disdain?

Mr. O'Malley failed to respond to specific questions about this meeting put to him by the editor of Magill following his July 25 statement. He also has failed to respond to questions in the November issue of Magill concerning this meeting and he failed to make the necessary arrangements to speak in the Dail debate, even though he must have known that questions

about this meeting would surely arise.

Mr. Lynch stated in the Dail on November 25, that he had no knowledge that a meeting had taken place between Mr. O'Malley and Mr. Haughey on September 9, 1970, thereby confirming Mr. Berry's interpretation of the significance of Mr. O'Malley's participation in the event.

The Berry Papers state:

On September 7, 1970, the Minister arrived off holiday in the afternoon and asked me to brief him up-to-date on what had gone on. Amongst other things I told him that Mr. Haughey had visited Mr. Justice Brian Walsh at Achill on Saturday and that earlier in the week he had been at Tra1ee races where he had been observed in the company of a Minister which had given rise to police comment. I named Mr. Lenihan at his request.

When he said that he, too, had been seeing Mr. Haughey at Tralee races I said that I had been told that also and I suggested that it was unwise for any Minister - and, particularly, the Minister for Justice - to be seen with Mr. Haughey before the trial.

He then told me that he had agreed to Mr. Haughey's request to meet him at his home at Malahide on Wednesday, 9th September. I strongly advised him not to do so, that such a visit would inevitably become known to the S Branch, would give rise to comment and, perhaps, would be leaked before the trial; that from another angle it could be more undesirable. I asked what Mr. Haughey's purpose would be, that it would be likely that he would give him drink and that the Minister might be led to talk indiscreetly and he might even be taped. I suggested that if he had to keep an appointment, his own room in Leinster House would be a discreet place as during the recess the building would be empty. I also suggested that it might be wise to keep the Taoiseach or/and Mr. Colley informed in advance to cover himself.

During the afternoon of 9th September, Mr. O'Malley told me that he had seen Mr. Haughey from 2.30 to 3.00 pm in his room in Leinster House. He said that Mr. Haughey's principal worry was over my evidence and that he had asked if I could be "induced", "directed" or "intimidated" into not giving evidence or changing my evidence.

I asked the Minister what was meant by "induced", did it mean could I be bribed? The Minister did not answer me directly. He was biting his knuckles.

He said that he had reminded Mr. Haughey of my statement in the Book of Evidence and he didn't see how I could withdraw or substantially change.

I said, has he in mind that I could become forgetful or absent-minded or muddled? I asked what had he meant by saying could I be directed?

The Minister went on to say that Mr. Haughey had threatened that I would be roasted in cross-examination by Counsel Seamus Sorohan who would question me on a case in January '70 in which proceedings had to be squared by me.

I said to the Minister that this was a load of nonsense, that the charge on indictment had been preferred on the instructions of the Taoiseach against my advice and that the charge had been withdrawn, subsequently, on the instructions of the Attorney General who had instructed the local State Solicitor. I told the Minister that this particular case was well documented and that I would get him the file. The whole nature of the meeting and the fact that the Minister had even listened to that kind of talk left me in no doubt, that he was pretending to Mr. Haughey that he was a friend.

It gave me a touch of nausea. Quite clearly these revelations have the most serious significance for both Mr. O'Malley and Mr. Haughey. For Mr. Haughey they suggest he was attempting to pervert the course of justice. For Mr. O'Malley there are even more serious issues at stake: They suggest that he, the Minister for Justice, collaborated with Mr. Haughey, if only to the extent of passing along the message, in attempting to pervert the course of justice. They also suggest that he was behaving in a manner totally disloyal to Mr. Lynch, for as the former Taoiseach has revealed, Mr. O'Malley did not tell Mr. Lynch either before or after that the meeting had taken place or what the purpose of the meeting was.

It may of course be that there is a benign explanation to Mr. O'Malley's participation in this meeting; that Mr. Berry was mistaken in understanding that Mr. 0 'Malley was conveying a proposition to him rather than telling him what had transpired; that he had intended informing the then Taoiseach but had overlooked it; that the meeting was actually about something else and the matter of Mr. Berry's evidence came up only in passing and Mr. Berry has attached an importance to it out of all proportion, etc.

But if any of these hypotheses is true, then Mr. O'Malley should explain how they are true and Mr. Berry's suggestion wrong. Magill attempted to have Mr. 0 'Malley explain his side of this story for the July issue but he declined to speak to us. The offer of space to state his case is still available.

The contribution of Mr. Jack Lynch to the Dail debate on the arms crisis was unsatisfactory, apart from his clarification of not knowing anything about the September 9 meeting. .While he again reiterated his denial of being told by Mr. Berry at the meeting in Mount Carmel on October 17, 1969, about the Baileborough meeting and Captain Kelly's involvement with known IRA members, he failed to deal with the corroborating evidence to Mr. Berry's version of what happened.

It was true, as Mr. Lynch stated and Mr. Berry himself freely conceded, that Mr. Berry was groggy on that morning because of drugs he was taking and the tests that were being performed on him but that doesn't explain how Col. Hefferon, then Director of Military Intelligence, was able to testify at the Committee of Public Accounts (Paragraphs 7891,8593 and 8596 and page 956) that Mr. James Gibbons, then Minister for Justice told him in late October or early November 1969 that Mr. Berry had complained to the Taoiseach about Captain Kelly's activities at Bailieboro and his involvement with known IRA members and that Mr. Lynch had passed the complaint on to him (Gibbons).

If Mr. Berry had not mentioned anything to Mr. Lynch about Captain Kelly, how then could Col. Hefferon

ever learn that there was any question of such a complaint being made? That is of course unless there were collusion between Mr. Berry and Col. Hefferon at a time when they were at fierce odds with one another.

In an interview with Magill, Col. Hefferon has reiterated that Mr. Gibbons did tell him of a complaint being relayed to him via the Taoiseach from Mr. Berry concerning Captain Kelly. Col. Hefferon recalls Mr. Gibbons telling him of Mr. Lynch's description of the state Mr. Berry was in when the Taoiseach called - "tubes sticking out all over him". This interview with Col. Hefferon took place before the Berry Papers became available to Magill and therefore Col. Hefferon had no way of knowing what condition Mr. Berry was in when the Taoiseach called, other than of hearing about it indirectly from the Taoiseach himself.

In any event, Mr. Lynch is unsatisfactory on this issue for other reasons. Given that Mr. Berry was groggy but that he had communicated to him the previous evening that there was something urgent he wished to communicate to him, why didn't Mr. Lynch return at a time when Mr. Berry's condition would have been less confused and uncomfortable. It was evident that Mr. Berry had something urgent and important to convey. Why didn't the Taoiseach ensure that the in formation was in fact conveyed?

Both Magill and Garret FitzGerald have asked Mr. Lynch to elaborate on his claim that he can prove that Mr. Michael Moran, the Minister for Justice during the arms crisis until May 4, 1970, never kept him informed about Captain Kelly's activities and the involvement of two ministers in a plan to import arms. However, Mr. Lynch failed to respond to this request, in spite of Mr. Moran's continued assertion that he did so inform Mr. Lynch long before April 20, 1970, the date on which Mr. Lynch insists was the time when he first heard of the arms p1an.

Mr. Lynch was also unsatisfactory in his handling of the other major issue arising from the Magill investigation: his decision on April 30, 1970, to take no action against the two Ministers whose names had cropped up in connection with the attempted arms importation on April ]8. The Berry Papers state that Mr. Lynch had said he was taking no action against the two Ministers. Kevin Boland in his book Up Dev states that at a meeting of Ministers the following day Mr. Lynch had announced that the matter was closed. Others who were present at that meeting of Ministers have confirmed that this was in fact what Mr. Lynch said.

In an interview with Magill Mr. Lynch said that what he told the cabinet was that the matter was closed "for now". Even this is somewhat different from what he told the Dail on November 25: that he had never said the matter was ended, he had passed the documents in the case over to the Attorney General, whose decision it was on whether further action was required in the matter.

This reply is inadequate not only because it differs from what the Berry Papers and several Ministers who were present state and from what he himself told Magill, but also because it conflicts with the rationale he himself has always given for the dismissal of the Ministers. Mr. Lynch stated at the time and subsequently, that the basis for the dismissal of the Ministers was that "no taint of suspicion" should attach to a member of a Government. If in fact Mr. Lynch did pass the papers in the case over to to Attorney General then, and if he was awaiting on the Attorney General to decide whether to prosecute certain Ministers, then a taint of suspicion did then attach to the two Ministers and on that basis alone Mr. Lynch should have dismissed them there and then.

 Mr. Neil Blaney made a caustic reference to the professional journalistic standards of this journalist in his forceful contribution to the Dail debate on November 26. The reference was unexceptional and in the light of the allegations made by this journalist against so many of the participants in the arms affair, it would obviously be churlish to resent this. However, there is one query which we would like to address to Mr. Blaney, and it is this:

You were the person to instigate and coordinate the attempted arms importation but, more important, you were the person to involve Mr. Albert Luykx in the enterprise. Mr. Luykx believed from what you told him that he was involved in an official government operation and throughout had no reason to believe otherwise. Why then did you leave him in the lurch, having to face totally unjustified charges in the courts, by refusing to defend the operation and instead pretended to the Dail that you had nothing to do with it?

Mr. Luykx paid £8,000 to an arms dealer in Germany in the belief that what he was involved in was an official Government operation and that the money would be refunded to him. Why did you do nothing to ensure that he was reimbursed?

Is it not the truth that you organized and coordinated the entire enterprise from the outset but when the crunch came you saved your own hide and refused to come out and defend the operation as a whole when people you involved were dragged through the courts?

What was it all about?

For the benefit of those now hopelessly confused about the arms crisis.

In August 1969, when Catholic areas of Northern Ireland were attacked, groups from the North appealed to the Dublin Government for aid, including the supply of arms. The Government of Jack Lynch was deeply divided on the Northern issue but positions of influence in regard to the North were given to members of the cabinet whoa took a militant line but were not in a majority in the cabinet.

Charlie Haughey was one of these and he agreed that a fund which he was administering should be used for the purchase of arms to be controlled by a group of eminently respectable people in Belfast, and used for the purpose of defending Catholic areas.

The operation became unstuck in April 1970 when the Gardai effectively prevented the importation of arms through Dublin airport. Jack Lynch who had refused to have Northern policy debated in the cabinet throughout the period since August 1969 and who had failed to act on information given to him that there was a plan afoot to import arms, had the circumstances of the April attempted importation investigated but then decided to take no action against the Ministers allegedly involved.

Mr. Lynch was forced to fire Charles Haughey and Neil Blaney, however, when the affair became known to the leader of the Opposition, Liam Cosgrave, he then allowed the due process of law to take effect and the two Ministers were charged along with three other people involved in the arms importation attempt.

Mr. Haughey denied his involvement in and knowledge of the plot during the course of the arms trial and at an investigation of the issue of the funds at his disposal by the Committee of Public Accounts. Mr. Lynch denied that he knew anything about the plan until the attempt at the importation actually took place and that he had decided to take no action against the two Ministers.

Magill's main revelations

I. That Mr. Haughey was involved in the attempted importation of arms from the outset.

2. That Mr. Lynch was first informed of the arms plot on October 17, 1969 by Mr. Peter Berry, Secretary of the Department of Justice - not six months later as he has repeatedly stated and restated in the Dail on November 25.

3. That Mr. Neil Blaney was the instigator and motivator of the entire enterprise.

4. That £31,150 of the £100,000 voted by the Dail for the relief of distress in Northern Ireland went directly to the Provisional and Official IRAs. A further £38,249. 13s. 9d. went towards the purchase of arms.

5. That a series of decisions, most notably the terms of a directive to the army on February 6, 1970, taken by the Government would seem to suggest that the provision of arms for the defence of the Catholic community in Northern Ireland would not have been inconsistent with Government policy.

6. That the then Taoiseach decided to take no action against the Ministers allegedly involved in the attempted arms importation but his hand was forced by the intervention of Mr. Liam Cosgrave:

The Berry Papers provided corroboration for two of these revelations: that Mr. Lynch was first informed on October 17, 1969 of the arms plan and that Mr. Lynch had decided to take no action against the Ministers allegedly involved in the affair. On both of these points there is independent evidence. The Berry Papers are not relevant to any of the revelations concerning Mr. Haughey.