Legitimacy and mandates
in Unfinished business
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Throughout Irish history terminology has played a significant role in defining those who fall beyond the status quo. This chapter demonstrates that the concept of legitimacy (and where it derives from) has remained a dominant theme throughout Irish republicanism, as demonstrated during the Civil War (1920s), the Hunger Strikes (1980s) and throughout the contemporary Provisional–‘dissident’ divide. This chapter examines the Republican Movement’s engagement with elections and demonstrates that Sinn Féin’s relationship with elections is more nuanced than is often portrayed. Radical republicans have rejected the mainstream narrative that Sinn Féin holds the republican brand and have rejected the Sinn Féin electoral mandate. This chapter explores ‘dissident’ attitudes to elections and explores the electoral fortunes of ‘dissident’ candidates. Through primary interviews, this chapter explores why many candidates have chosen to contest on an ‘independent’ platform rather than under their organisation’s name; and whether groups such as the 32CSM are internally divided on electoral strategy. Debates within RSF, éirígí and the 32CSM demonstrate age-old divisions surrounding the tactical use of local elections. This chapter examines republican attitudes to the lack of popular support and (through their own words) demonstrates where legitimacy is derived from, including an interview with a spokesperson for the CIRA.

Unfinished business

The politics of ‘dissident’ Irish republicanism


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