'A poor thing but our own': The Joint Intelligence Committee and Ireland, 1965-72
AbstractThis article explores the role of the Joint Intelligence Committee (JIC) in assessing the development of the Northern Ireland crisis from the mid-1960s until the imposition of direct rule in 1972. It argues that the JIC's very limited engagement with Northern Ireland prior to 1969 contributed significantly to Whitehall's failure to grasp the drift of affairs from the autumn of 1968 onwards. This was due to the JIC's preoccupation with Cold War issues, compounded by reluctance to interfere in the security affairs of the Northern Ireland government. When Northern Ireland became a stock item of JIC business in 1970, the JIC secretariat became heavily involved in efforts to improve the intelligence system in Northern Ireland. The article also raises the question of the JIC's role in establishing the parameters for intelligence and security operations concerning Northern Ireland, including the controversial 'Five Techniques' of interrogation, the introduction of internment in 1971, and covert activities in the Republic of Ireland. The article draws mainly on JIC, Prime Minister's Office and Foreign Office records in the National Archives.