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The Association may be contacted through its Secretary,

Peter F Durnin, KC*SG, KM, GCHS, "Rosaire", Moneymore, Drogheda, Co Louth. A92 RF6F

email: peternora12281@eircom.net

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Aiken Frank, GCPO


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1898 - 1983 born in Armagh. Educated St Colman’s College, Newry. His papal  award was given during the 10 day State visit of1962 to Rome to record the end of the Patrician Year He accompanied President de Valera on that visit. Aiken was politically and militarily active from a young age, joining the Irish Volunteers at sixteen, and within a few years becoming Chairman of the Armagh Comhairle Ceanntair of Sinn Féin and elected onto Armagh County Council. During the War of Independence, he commanded the Fourth Northern Division of the IRA. The split over the Anglo-Irish Treaty left Aiken ultimately aligned with the Anti-Treaty side in spite of personal efforts to prevent division and civil war. He succeeded Liam Lynch as Chief of Staff of the IRA in March 1923 and issued the cease fire and dump arms orders on 24 May 1923 that effectively ended the Civil War. He was first elected to the Dáil as a Sinn Féin candidate in the Louth constituency in 1923, continuing to be re-elected for Fianna Fáil at every election until his retirement from politics fifty years later. He entered the first Fianna Fáil government as Minister for Defence (1932–9), later becoming Minister for the Coordination of Defensive Measures (1939–45) with responsibility for overseeing Ireland’s national defence and neutral position during the Second World War. Aiken was Minister for Finance (1945–8) for three years following the war and was involved in economic post–war development, in the industrial, agricultural, educational and other spheres. However, it was as Minister for External Affairs (1951–4, 1957–69) that Aiken fulfilled his enormous political potential. As Foreign Minister he adopted where possible an independent stance for Ireland at the United Nations and other international for a such as the Council of Europe. Despite a great deal of opposition, both at home and abroad, he stubbornly asserted the right of UN members to discuss the representation of communist China at the General Assembly. Unable to bring the issue of the partition of Ireland to the UN, Aiken ensured that Ireland vigorously defended the rights of small nations such as Tibet and Hungary (invaded by China and Russia respectively, in the 1950s), nations whose problems it was felt Ireland could identify with and had a moral obligation to help. Aiken also supported the right of countries such as Algeria to self-determination and spoke out against apartheid in South Africa. Under Ireland’s policy of promoting the primacy of international law and reducing global tension at the height of the Cold War, Aiken promoted the idea of areas of law, which he believed would free the most tense regions around the world from the threat of nuclear war. 




Likewise, Aiken sponsored a resolution to prevent the ‘wider dissemination of nuclear weapons’ and proposed peace initiatives for the crisis in the Middle East. In 1969, Aiken, who was then seventy, stepped down from his positions as Minister for Foreign Affairs and Tánaiste , at a time when the gradual move towards membership of the European Union and growing tensions in Northern Ireland would soon shift the focus of Foreign Affairs policy from the UN to matters closer to home. Positions and policies nurtured and guarded from the 1950s—neutrality, independence, Ireland as a ‘middle power’—would come to change or have different meanings as new alignments were formed in the 1970s. Aiken would watch these changes from the sidelines and at the age of seventy-five, in the midst of the arms crisis of 1973, he decided finally to retire from political life, opting not to stand for re-election in his County Louth constituency. During an incomparable ministerial career he had also held briefly the portfolios of Lands and Fisheries (June–November 1936) and Agriculture (March–May 1957). Frank Aiken married Maud Davin in October 1934. They had three children, Proinnsias, Lochlann and Aedamar. 
reference: "Frank Aiken: Nationalist and Internationalist", Edited by Bryce Evans and Stephen Kelly, Irish Academic Press, - 2014

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