jump to navigation

The IRA, 1956 – 69: Rethinking the Republic – review in History Ireland August 30, 2011

Posted by WorldbyStorm in History, Irish Politics, The Left.
trackback

A good review of Matt Treacy’s The IRA, 1956 – 69: Rethinking the Republic in in the latest edition of History Ireland. Eoin Ó Broin, whose work on Left Republicanism is also very well worth a read – perhaps particularly in respect of the analysis it has of the 1960s as well, is the person charged with the task of reviewing the book.

He identifies a number of strengths to the work, including:

It is based on the latest available archival material from Irish and British sources, combined with an intimate knowledge of the dynamics of 1960s Republicanism. As a result, Treacy has produced a dispassionate narrative that may yet become the final word in a number of controversies.

And makes some very interesting points which are well worth further discussion:

Crucially Treacy warns against the idea that this was a simple left-right division. The modernizers clearly embraced a particular variant of Marxism, albeit mediated via the intellectual lens of C. Desmond Greaves. The traditionalists also provided a coherent alternative to the status quo, based on Catholic social teaching, a commitment to social justice and the rights of workers, and a focus on protecting indigenous business.

I don’t want to say much more because it’s up to people to get both HI and the book for themselves, but there’s mention too of other influences and strands on the Republican movement…

…such as the activity of the Cork-based An Phoblacht group centered around figures such as Jim Lane. This self-consciously left-republican collection of activists sat uneasily between both the traditionalists and the modernizers, embracing the new drive for agitational politics of the Goulding faction while remaining committed to the utility of armed struggle as argued by the traditionalists.

And Ó Broin argues that…

… [the] main conclusion is that, despite the intensity and at times bitterness of the internal arguments and divisions of 1960s republicanism, the two key protagonists – traditionalists and modernizers – achieved little for their efforts. The inheritors of these two positions, namely Republican Sinn Féin and the Workers’ Party, today languish at the margins of Irish political life much as they did in the 1950s.

About these ads

Comments»

1. HAL - August 30, 2011

“The traditionalists also provided a coherent alternative to the status quo, based on Catholic social teaching, a commitment to social justice and the rights of workers, and a focus on protecting indigenous business.”

WTF does that mean,how could Catholic social teaching,be an alternative to what we had in 1960s Ireland.

Like

Jim Monaghan - August 31, 2011

Many oppositions to the status quo even marxists operate within the framework of orthodoxy.Would JC have allowed this. Throwing the moneylenders out of teh temple sort of stuff. As well groups coming into opposition will not have made a clean break. In fact the contradictions between certain papal prescriptions and the realities of life was and is a stick to attack the status quo. Luther King opposed the system with readings from the bible.
Right I find the efforts of a Breda O’Brien or a O’Rahilly to criticise the system within as just hyprocrisy for the most part.But expecting a mass movement of opposition to have a fully fledged marxist outlook especially a few decades ago would be wishful thinking.

Like

2. que - August 30, 2011

christian democrats?

Like

3. Ciarán - August 30, 2011

Is Treacy’s party colleague really the best person to review the book? If it’s for An Phoblacht, then okay, but History Ireland…

Like

4. Budapestkick - August 31, 2011

Brian Hanley would be better suited but it’s likely he’ll do a review in Saothar or somewhere where there’s more space to tease out the issues. It wa a questionable editorial decision though.

Like

5. John O'Neill - September 2, 2011

“The inheritors of these two positions, namely Republican Sinn Féin and the Workers’ Party, today languish at the margins of Irish political life much as they did in the 1950s”

Unlike Provisional Sinn Fein who believe they are destined to become Fianna Fail Nua in the banana republic and power share the poverty with the afrikaners in the statelet.

Like

6. EamonnDublin - September 8, 2011

Tom Redmond from the CPI has a piece of Treacys book in the latest edition of ‘Socialist Voice”. Also, if anybody cares to check republican history, the nationalist wing always blamed the ‘godless communists’ for their members attraction to radical politics. Brian Hanley’s book about the 26-36 period has many examples of this, he even refers to the IRA having four strands of volunteers each with different outlooks/ideals. Those, like treacy, with a narrow and closed mind seek simple answers.Even in the recent phase, dissidents mention internal disruption ( denis Donaldson et al )for the change in republican policy without realising the willingness of the majority to accept change. Yes, Blair’s spin doctor may have wrote speeches for the Sinn Fein leadership but that alone does not explain the republican u-turn.
What treacy does not realise, being a sinn fein member, is that political change is complicated and not everyone is opportunistic.

Like

shea - September 8, 2011

what where the other 3 strands? just so you don’t waste your time explaining iam an ex SF member not sure if that makes me capable of understanding or if iam still like the rest of them. i’ll take your wisdom on it.

Like

WorldbyStorm - September 8, 2011

Without bringing Matt Treacy’s book into it your thoughts [EamonnDublin] make a lot of sense to me. There’s a broader dynamic at work here, it’s not entirely dissimilar to the way in which socialists often become social democrats or worse[!] with time [and in some ways that's a dynamic Republicanism sees as well].

I think the Hanley book on the IRA you reference is a brilliant piece of work.

Like

7. EamonnDublin - September 8, 2011

Hanley refers to four strands during this period, Apolitical militarists, conservative supporters of Sinn Fein, socialists and a broad layer committed to armed struggle but receptive to radical policies. These strands, if you think about it, also existed right up until the current phase. Guess which strand won out……..2 ?

Like

8. shea - September 8, 2011

so if those factors also reappeared in the provo’s as you hint at does not indicate a spit down the line as apposed to one or two of the strands braking away, tracy being your arch type.

Like

9. EamonnDublin - September 9, 2011

could you rephrase this please. cannot understand what you are saying.

Like


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 1,377 other followers

%d bloggers like this: