Abstract only
Rethinking the Republic
Author: Matt Treacy

While there have been many books written about the Irish Republican Army (IRA) since 1916, comparatively little attention has been paid to the organisation during the 1960s, despite the fact that the internal divisions culminating in the 1969 split are often seen as key to the conflict which erupted that year. This book rederesses that vacuum and, through an exhaustive survey of internal and official sources, as well as interviews with key IRA members, provides an insight into radical Republican politics. The book looks at the root of the divisions that centred on conflicting attitudes within the IRA on armed struggle, electoral participation and socialism. It argues that while the IRA did not consciously plan the northern ‘Troubles’, the internal debate of the 1960s had implications for what happened in 1969. The book is also of interest as a study of the internal dynamics of a revolutionary movement that has resonance with similar movements in other countries.

Matt Treacy

1 The 1956–62 armed campaign and the reorganisation of the IRA The IRA ‘border campaign’ of 1956 to 1962 occupies a peculiar place in the history of Irish republicanism. It has arguably been romanticised not only by republicans themselves but in books like Coogan’s first edition of The IRA and in Bowyer Bell’s The Secret Army. A more recent work, however, by Barry Flynn comes to the conclusion that the campaign itself was both ill-conceived and futile. For republicans during the period under review here it was important in terms of assessing both why the

in The IRA 1956–69
Matt Treacy

5 The year 1966 and the revival of the IRA ‘threat’ The Dáil passed the Anglo-Irish Free Trade Agreement on 7 January 1966 by 66 votes to 19. The Labour Party opposed the measure and Fine Gael abstained. Labour put many of the same arguments as republicans and one Labour TD, Denis Larkin, discerned signs of a realignment in the politics of the Dáil that would open up the kind of opportunities for the left that were being envisaged by some republicans and the Communists.1 The Wolfe Tone Society, which had organised a lobby of the Dáil on 4 January under the

in The IRA 1956–69
Matt Treacy

3 Abstentionism and the growth of internal divisions For traditionalist republicans, the refusal to recognise the parliaments in Leinster House and Stormont symbolised their allegiance to the de jure Republic which they claimed had been illegally overthrown in 1922. For them it still had legitimacy with legal authority having been passed to the IRA Army Council in 1938 by the surviving anti-Treaty Sinn Féin members of the Dáil elected in 1923. Traditionalists, as represented today by Republican Sinn Féin and the Continuity IRA, still adhere to that belief. A

in The IRA 1956–69
Abstract only
Matt Treacy

Introduction While several small rainforests have been consumed in the production of books about the Irish republican movement and the conflict in Northern Ireland since 1969, comparatively little has been written about the period that preceded the crisis and the revival of militant and armed republicanism. This book looks at the IRA and Sinn Féin between the 1956–62 ‘border campaign’ and 1969. The campaign itself is dealt with in the first chapter as the event that brought about the internal debate after 1962. I examine developments within the movement with

in The IRA 1956–69
Abstract only
Matt Treacy

Epilogue The real epilogue to the events and ideological debates described above was not only the armed conflict that lasted until the definitive IRA ceasefire in 1997 but also the political events culminating in the May 2007 agreement between Sinn Féin and the DUP to share power. The enthusiasm engendered by that historic compromise has been since tempered but the structures look destined to survive. Despite their claim that the Provisionals eventually came to adopt their strategy, the modernising faction gained nothing politically if that was the case, and

in The IRA 1956–69
S.C. Aveyard

4 Negotiating the Provisional IRA ceasefire The dominant issue for the Labour government for most of 1975 was the PIRA’s ceasefire. The ceasefire had great implications for security policy and the political scene. It provided the backdrop to the Northern Ireland Constitutional Convention, which lasted from May 1975 through to March 1976, and deeply affected the Labour government’s relationships with political parties in Great Britain and Northern Ireland, with the government of the Republic of Ireland and with senior British army officers. The public

in No solution
Matt Treacy

view and regards the Belfast–Derry march as having been a provocation which led to the violence which effectively derailed the modernisers’ project.1 While opposition to ‘ultra-leftism’ was part of the lexicon of the modernisers’ allies in the Communist parties, many local republicans activists were happy to participate in protests and marches, and IRA members attempted to protect the student marchers along the route of the January march. In contrast the General Secretary of the CPNI, James Stewart, attacked the ‘sectarian The Northern crisis and the split 153

in The IRA 1956–69
Matt Treacy

6 Towards the National Liberation Front In 1970 Cathal Goulding claimed that ‘by 1967 the movement had become dormant’.1 Sales of the United Irishman had fallen to a few thousand by mid1967, while publicly claiming a circulation of thirty thousand.2 When Mick Ryan was asked to travel around the country to collect debts and to report on the movement he found it to be in an ‘awful state’.3 An IRA document on the United Irishman from February 1967 recognised the need to boost circulation by setting proper sales targets under the responsibility of county organisers

in The IRA 1956–69
Matt Treacy

4 The Wolfe Tone Society and the Communists Goulding and those close to him after 1962 quickly came to the conclusion that by itself Sinn Féin was not an adequate vehicle for their political ambitions. Instead, they decided to establish an organisation that they hoped would draw in a wider group of individuals who were sympathetic to republicanism but antipathetic to Sinn Féin and the IRA. A March 1969 memo from Peter Berry suggests that they were persuaded of the merits of this by ‘suggestions from left-wing sources’ outside the movement.1 The main vehicle for

in The IRA 1956–69