The IRA, 1956 – 69: Rethinking the Republic – review in History Ireland August 30, 2011Posted by WorldbyStorm in History, Irish Politics, The Left.
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.