De Valera’s Northern Ireland policy, 1932–1948
in From Partition to Brexit
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This chapter covers the Irish Government’s Northern Ireland policies during Fianna Fáil’s first, sixteen-year reign, from 1932 to 1948. The ruling party’s policies towards partition are interrogated and it is argued that Fianna Fáil’s first objective of securing a united Ireland was subordinated to purely party-oriented targets of maintaining power in the Free State. The chapter examines how policies and attitudes towards Northern Ireland were enshrined in the Irish Constitution, Bunreacht na hÉireann. It identifies the assumptions underlying government policy and how these influenced approaches to Westminster and international opinion. Finally, the chapter concludes with explaining why opportunities for direct negotiations with the British in 1938 and 1940 did not produce any agreement on how partition might end.

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