Irishrepublicanism as an ideology:
are there agreed components?
Irishrepublicanism is often associated with physical force, separatism and cultural nationalism. However, republican ideas have a much wider foundation and
complex history, with many of these ideas adopted and adapted in their Irish
variant. Since the echoes of the French and American revolutions pervaded Irish
politics, republicanism has played a protagonist role. Yet, disagreements over the
interpretation of Irish history have given way to vast number of varying political
Evaluating historic splits in Irishrepublicanism: is there space for the
emergence of ‘dissidents’?
From abstentionists to institutional participants, from the margins to the mainstream, Sinn Féin has undergone numerous reincarnations since its founding
in 1905.1 The republican movement has always been a mixture of intellectuals, constitutional politicians, political activists, militants and revolutionaries,
although these categories have never been mutually exclusive. It is the versatile
and complex nature of the republican movement, allied to the difficulty
Contemporary Irishrepublicanism since
1998: the Shinners1
At present republican groups dissenting from the pro-Stormont ‘Agreement’
line include groups ranging from traditionalist Republican SF, to the supposedly Marxist IRSP, to the I’m not sure about the ideology beyond sovereignty 32CSM, to trendy leftist agitprop junkies éirígí, to the newest group
Republican Network for Unity (RNU).2
The diverse spectrum of dissenting organizations represented in the quote
that begins this chapter gives a sense of the fragmented and deeply contested space that is Irish
Contemporary Irishrepublicanism since
1998: dissos and dissenters1
If it is easy to identify those that the media refers to as ‘dissident republicans’, it is far more difficult to identify and define what they mean by ‘dissident republicanism’.2
The second bloc: traditional dissent
The compromises of the Peace Process and electoralism remained an issue
for some traditionalists who were constants through the modern era of
republicanism prior to 1998. These groups would become more marginalized through the period under analysis. Politically dissenting
Newspapers, magazines and pamphlets have always been central, almost sacred, forms of communication within Irish republican political culture. While social media is becoming the primary ideological battleground in many democracies, Irish republicanism steadfastly expresses itself in the traditional forms of activist journalism. Shinners, Dissos and Dissenters is a long-term analysis of the development of Irish republican activist media since 1998 and the tumultuous years following the end of the Troubles. It is the first in-depth analysis of the newspapers, magazines and online spaces in which the differing strands of Irish republicanism developed and were articulated during a period where schism and dissent defined a return to violence. Based on an analysis of Irish republican media outlets as well as interviews with the key activists that produced them, this book provides a compelling long-term snapshot of a political ideology in transition. It reveals how Irish Republicanism was moulded by the twin forces of the Northern Ireland Peace Process and the violent internal ideological schism that threatened a return to the ‘bad old days’ of the Troubles. This book is vital for those studying Irish politics and those interestedin activism as it provides new insights into the role that modern activist media forms have played in the ideological development of a 200-year-old political tradition.
This book considers Northern Ireland’s constitutional nationalist tradition in the years leading up to the outbreak of the Troubles. Starting in 1932, the year in which the nationalist party the National League of the North walked out of the Northern Ireland parliament, and ending in 1970, when the Nationalist Party was eclipsed by a new generation of civil rights activists, it presents an account of the diverse political parties, organisations, and activists that sought to redress Catholic grievances and pursue the nationalist political goal of Irish unity through constitutional means. The book traces the emergence of anti-partitionism as a major preoccupation of constitutional nationalist groups and parties that existed in the period and critically examines a range of strategies which were intended both to galvanise Catholic support and to move closer to the goal of Irish unity. It assesses the context of these strategies as well as their outcomes and consequences. The fragmentary nature of Northern nationalism, the divisions between its rural Catholic conservative and urban secular labourist elements, and its strategic divide between parliamentary abstentionism and active participation, are all evaluated; so too are the problematic relationships that existed between Northern nationalists and successive Irish governments, and the continued challenges posed by militant Irish republicanism. Finally, this book explores developments in the 1960s when a liberal minority within constitutional nationalism called for a modernised politics and a new relationship between Nationalism and Unionism.
This book assesses the security threat and political challenges offered by dissident Irish republicanism to the Northern Irish peace process. The 1998 Good Friday Agreement failed to end entirely armed republicanism. The movement of Sinn Féin into constitutional politics in a government of Northern Ireland and the eschewing of militarism that followed, including disbandment of the Provisional IRA (PIRA), the decommissioning of weapons and the supporting of the Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI) proved too much for a minority of republicans. This book begins by examining Sinn Féin’s evolution from the margins of political existence to becoming mainstream constitutional players. It then assesses how the compromises associated with these changes have been rejected by republican ‘dissidents’. In order to explore the heterogeneity of contemporary Irish republicanism this book draws upon in-depth interviews and analyses the strategies and tactics of various dissident republican groups. This analysis is used to outline the political and military challenges posed by dissidents to Northern Ireland in a post-Good Friday Agreement context as well as examine the response of the British state towards continuing violence. This discussion places the state response to armed republicanism in Northern Ireland within the broader debate on counter-terrorism after 9/11.
the Easter Rising are set to reflect the multifaceted nature of
modern day Irishrepublicanism. Yet the claim to the mantle of true republicanism, as supposedly embodied in those involved in the Rising, remains contested.
Competing military and political organisations emerged in what became the
Irish Republic, whilst militarism as a tool of Irishrepublicanism remained in
the form of a continuing Irish Republican Army, which was concentrated predominantly in Northern Ireland. For decades, Irish state ideology viewed ‘the
North’ as illegally occupied by the British
nature of the tradition has made it so prone to division. It is within this framework that this research has aimed to provide a detailed examination of dissident
organisations and their attempts to legitimise their activity.
Divisions within Irishrepublicanism: is it still about ‘the split’?
Irishrepublicanism has always been vulnerable to splits and divisions. The
fractious and heterogeneous nature of the republican movement has been an
enduring characteristic throughout the past century. In exploring why Irishrepublicanism has been so prone to division some
This book provides an analysis of the politics, ideology and strategy of ‘dissident’ Irish republicans. Based on the largest survey of ‘dissidents’ to date, it offers unprecedented insight into who the ‘dissidents’ are and what they hope to achieve. The ninety interviewees for this book comprise members of ‘dissident’ groups, independents, elected representatives, current prisoners in Maghaberry prison, former senior members of the Provisional Movement and individuals who were active in the Republican Movement prior to the formation of the Provisionals in 1969. This book provides insight into the Provisional–‘dissident’ divide regarding tactics-versus-principles, a debate which strikes to the heart of republicanism. Uniquely, through interviews with key players, this book presents the mainstream Sinn Féin narrative, thus providing an insight into the contested narratives of these two worlds which encompass former comrades. This book locates ‘dissident’ republicanism historically, within the long trajectory of republican struggle, and demonstrates the cyclical nature of key debates within the republican leadership. Personal testimonies of key players demonstrate a nuanced spectrum of opinion on the current armed campaign regarding utility and morality; and republican views are presented on whether or not there should be any republican prisoners at present. Through unique interviews with a spokespersons for the Continuity and REAL IRAs, this book delves into the psyche of those involved in the armed campaign. Key themes explored throughout the book include the drawling of the fault lines, the varied strands of ‘dissidence’, ceasefires and decommissioning, the Good Friday Agreement, policing, ‘IRA policing’, legitimacy and mandates.