‘Military neutrality’ and ‘political neutrality’ are not the same. The Irish authorities did not allow the state’s non-aligned status to prevent them joining the crusade in the West against communism. They had a Cold War agenda. In the 1950s, leading officials such as Colonel Dan Bryan in G2, the Irish army intelligence directorate, believed that Ireland should assist the NATO powers in their global struggle. So, too, did Peter Berry, the Department of Justice secretary in Dublin. They supplied detailed information on the tiny communist organisation to the ‘hypersensitive’ Americans, for example, and provided intelligence on ‘peace’ activists to the British. Details on suspect activists ended up in the files of the Church’s ‘vigilance’ committee – a clear breach of the separation of Church and State. As functionaries in what Berry termed the ‘communist international’, Michael O’Riordan in Dublin and Desmond Greaves in London were seen to be taking directions from the British communist party, the CPGB. The communists had their own Cold War agenda to follow, with ‘world peace’ Moscow’s priority. But this issue did not capture the imagination of the working class, as a frustrated Roy Johnston discovered. Nevertheless, orders were orders for Ireland’s ‘fifth column’. Some communist-led organisations, however, were believed to have recruitment potential. Could the CPGB-directed Connolly Association, and its equivalent in New York – both ‘dangerous’ in Bryan’s view – convert Irish exiles by highlighting issues related to Northern Ireland? Was there any possibility that communists could succeed in infiltrating the Irish republican movement?...
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