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The days when our foreign policy was cringingly Catholic

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John A Costello: signed note to the Vatican.

John A Costello: signed note to the Vatican.

John A Costello: signed note to the Vatican.

THE ninth and latest volume of the series Documents on Irish Foreign Policy is remarkable on two counts. It is the first volume on the foreign policy of a coalition government: in this case the Inter-Party government (as it preferred to describe itself) of 1948-51 in which John A Costello was Taoiseach and Sean MacBride (who had been chief of staff of the IRA only 12 years earlier) was the Minister for External Affairs.

In this respect, there are obvious resonances with the present government. Both governments were led by the leader of Fine Gael and the leader of another party chose the foreign policy portfolio. Just as the then-leader of the Labour Party, Eamon Gilmore, became the ministerial occupant of Iveagh House in the present government, so did Sean MacBride as leader of Clann na Poblachta in 1948.


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