Lynch, John Mary


Lynch, John Mary
▪ 2000
“Jack” 
      Irish politician (b. Aug. 15, 1917, Cork, Ire.—d. Oct. 20, 1999, Dublin, Ire.), as prime minister of Ireland (1966–73 and 1977–79), helped to negotiate the country through some of its most trying and tense political moments. Lynch, one of seven children in a middle-class family, began his career as a civil servant in 1936. He studied law part-time and was called to the bar in 1945. He made a name for himself by winning five all-Ireland medals in hurling and one medal in football, and the fame he garnered as a sports hero led to several political offers. He entered the Dail (House of Representatives) in 1948 and after his Fianna Fail party came to power in 1951, he served as parliamentary secretary to the government (1951–54), minister for education (1957–59), minister for industry and commerce (1959–65), and minister for finance (1965–66), before becoming head of Fianna Fail and prime minister. A soft-spoken yet firm leader, Lynch was best remembered for his rhetorical intervention in the outbreak of violence in Northern Ireland in 1969. He executed a largely successful balancing act, mollifying nationalistic sentiments in the republic while working with the British government to find a solution to the “northern problem.” He condemned Irish Republican Army (IRA) violence, resisted pressure to send troops across the northern border to protect Roman Catholics in Derry, and in the 1970 “arms crisis” dismissed Charles Haughey and Neil Blaney, two senior ministers charged with attempting to import arms illegally for the IRA. Lynch also succeeded in breaking through the British government's insistence that Dublin not be involved with Northern Ireland, and his efforts led to the 1974 Sunningdale Agreement. He was lauded for leading Ireland into the European Economic Community in 1973 and was elected to a second term as prime minister in 1977, securing the largest Dail victory on record. After resigning in 1979 because of negative voter response that followed in the wake of soaring deficits and inflation, he was succeeded by his long-time political rival Haughey. Lynch resigned from the Dail in 1981.

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Universalium. 2010.

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