Friday 20 April 2018

Spring's visit to Israel sparked outcry

Dick Spring: Photo: NPA/Independent collection
Dick Spring: Photo: NPA/Independent collection
Ralph Riegel

Ralph Riegel

SENIOR Department of Foreign Affairs officials complained they had been kept "completely in the dark" over a controversial visit to Israel by Tanaiste Dick Spring (pictured).

Civil servants were worried the Irish visit could be used for propaganda purposes, with one official describing the Israelis as well-known for their "deviousness". Confidential memos reveal increasing frantic correspondence in late 1983 between the Departments of Foreign Affairs, Taoiseach and Environment over the Labour leader's visit.

Civil servants believed Mr Spring had been invited in his personal capacity as Labour leader. However, they expressed concern at learning the visit was an official Government trip. A December 14 memo from the Department of Foreign Affairs complained: "(The Department) is completely in the dark as to the activities that will make up the programme. All in all, it is a most unorthodox way to arrange an official visit by a deputy prime minister to a country known for its skill, and on occasion deviousness, in extracting maximum political advantage from such events."

Irish Independent

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