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Abstract only
Agnès Maillot

The conclusion draws the book to an end by reminding the reader of the context of upheaval that sees 100 years of Northern Ireland marked in 2021, not least due to Brexit. The centenary of the coming into existence of two states on the island of Ireland will not be celebrated by Sinn Féin given its opposition to such a thing at the time. Yet it marks an optimistic era for the party in that it sees a United Ireland as closer than at any other point in the last century. It is a time when it seeks to further establish itself as the party of a new generation – who no longer ascribe to a Sinn Féin vote the value that their parents might have, and no longer really care to make the connection with the IRA a priority. A major challenge will be holding on to the gains in this generation made in 2020 by keeping its voice distinctive to others in the policy sphere.

in Rebels in government
Abstract only
Agnès Maillot

This chapter presents the overarching questions that underpin the study of Sinn Féin and sets out the overall structure that will be used to address these questions.

in Rebels in government
Agnès Maillot

This chapter looks at the manner in which Sinn Féin has managed its past and its close ties with the former Provisional Irish Republican Army. While suspicion remains high amongst political circles that the Army Council, the ruling body of the IRA, is still in existence and somehow controls, at least in part, the decision making process within Sinn Féin, the party itself denies such allegations and claims that it has successfully turned the page. This is a fraught exercise as the shadow of the IRA lingers on. Furthermore, while distancing itself from its former ally, the party has no intention of disavowing the IRA and continues to justify its actions and methods within the context of the Troubles. This can be potentially damaging as the party’s democratic credentials continue to be questioned in some quarters, although paradoxically it does not necessarily translate into a drop in support. Sinn Féin has had to navigate a hostile landscape on both sides of the border but has also managed to retain, and even increase, a level of support in spite of its past connection with the IRA. The manner in which it has managed its past is exemplified by its discourse on the issue of reconciliation, which is at the heart of any future, long lasting stability in Northern Ireland.

in Rebels in government
Agnès Maillot

In order to achieve its ultimate objective – the reunification of Ireland – Sinn Féin opted, as early as the 1980s to win the hearts and minds, and the votes, of the Irish electorate on both sides of the border. In order to develop a more elaborate political profile, it operated a markedly left-wing turn, both in its discourse and in its policy content. As a result, Sinn Féin has successfully become the main left-wing contender within the Irish political world. The party is now closely identified with issues such as housing and the strengthening of public services, and it has embraced a liberal agenda on issues such as LGBT rights and abortion. This has enabled Sinn Féin to gain the support of a sizeable section of the youth, and it hopes to be able to attract voters in Northern Ireland who do not necessarily identify with the binary identities of nationalism and unionism. While the two main parties in the Republic have yet to accept to share power with Sinn Féin, Republicans have shown that they are serious contenders and that they are determined to be in a position where they have ministerial representation on both sides of the Irish border.

in Rebels in government
Is Sinn Féin ready for power?
Author:

The February 2020 general election in the Republic of Ireland sent shockwaves through the country’s political system. Sinn Féin, ahead of all other parties in terms of first preference votes, secured its place as a potential coalition partner, a role it has been playing in Northern Ireland since the start of the century. This result not only disrupted the two-party system, it also questioned a narrative that had cast Sinn Féin as an outlier in the political mainstream. However, the prospect of this all-Ireland, radical left and former Provisional IRA associate being in government raises many questions. What does the success of this all-Ireland party say about the prospect of reunification? Can a party over which the shadow of paramilitaries still lingers be fully trusted? And are the radical changes that the party advocates in areas such as housing, public health and taxation a compelling alternative? These are the questions that this book sets out to address.

Agnès Maillot

This chapter studies the manner in which Sinn Féin has prioritised and strategised its ultimate, and fundamental, objective – the reunification of Ireland – which underlies most of its political decisions, election campaigns and policy programmes. After having set the historical context of this ideal, an assessment of how Sinn Féin put this ideal at the centre of its peace process strategy is provided. While Sinn Féin is not the only Irish political party that believes in Irish unity, it is unique in the way it conditions all other policies and objectives to this ideal. Since the 2016 Brexit referendum, Sinn Féin is more convinced than ever that this prospect is within reach. The departure of the UK from the EU, while opposed by the party during the referendum campaign, is seen as having the potential to change the situation and to push forward the United Ireland agenda. Undoubtedly the conundrum of the Irish border, exemplified in the controversies generated by the backstop and the Northern Ireland Protocol, has caused a level of resentment and anxiety among Unionism, and in Sinn Féin’s view, has accelerated what they now term an ‘unstoppable’ conversation across the island on the prospect of Irish unity.

in Rebels in government
Stephen Kinsella

This chapter concentrates on the economic impact of Brexit on Ireland noting that there are potentially three “economies” to consider: Northern Ireland, the Republic, but also the Republic’s distinct multinational sector. It analyses the potential economic shock of Brexit in terms of the overall sectoral impact, in terms of its impact on the labour market, and in terms of one specific policy area, the energy sector. It concludes by highlighting the impact of Brexit on Irish economic diplomacy, which saw the country reach out to new economic partners and allies in the EU.

in Ireland and the European Union
How Brexit unsettled what had been normalised
Brigid Laffan
and
Jane O'Mahoney

This chapter looks at the impact of Brexit on British–Irish relations and particularly the border issue. It evaluates the Irish government’s dual strategy of building a domestic consensus and establishing support at the European level. It also assesses the implications for Ireland’s EU membership beyond Brexit, arguing that it represents a huge challenge for the country as it is losing a major trading partner and an ally on many issues in the EU, but also constitutes a decisive moment when Ireland committed itself to a European future.

in Ireland and the European Union
Interreg and the cross-border dimension
Giada Lagana

This chapter examines in detail one aspect of the EU contribution to the peace process in Ireland. The Interreg programme offers special funding for cross-border regions within the EU and forms part of the overall framework of funding for Ireland – North and South – which has supported the peace process. It suggests that although the programme has been very successful in some other situations and still offers considerable opportunities in the Irish context, nonetheless the record to date shows only limited benefits, due mostly to the highly centralised nature of the UK and Irish states and to rivalry among agencies on both sides of the border.

in Ireland and the European Union
Abstract only
Ireland in a changed Union
Ben Tonra

This chapter examines Irish foreign policy and the EU. This includes discussion of the security debates around the EU’s near neighbourhood and the EU’s changing security outlook, arguing that “hard choices are coming into view” for Ireland. It also assesses the impact of Brexit on Ireland’s international stance, noting the former importance of the UK as a close partner for Ireland within the EU and analysing the subsequent attempts to shore up Ireland’s foreign policy.

in Ireland and the European Union