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Donnacha Ó Beacháin

The chapter critically examines the Irish government response to the outbreak of the Troubles in Derry and Belfast in August 1969. It reviews the differences within the cabinet that led ultimately to the Arms Crisis of May 1970. Using previously top-secret archival files, the chapter also demonstrates how detailed plans for Irish Army intervention into Northern Ireland were devised.

The chapter then evaluates the Irish Government’s responses to internment in Northern Ireland, and to Bloody Sunday, which prompted the burning of the British embassy in Dublin and the withdrawal of the Irish ambassador from London. It is argued that UN initiatives in 1969 and 1972 were conducted with minimum expectation of success but mainly aimed at assuaging popular opinion at home. Particular attention is devoted to the Sunningdale Agreement of December 1973 to which the Irish Government was a co-signatory with the British Government and Northern Ireland leaders. The chapter concludes with the unsuccessful struggle to maintain the power-sharing institutions established as part of the Sunningdale Agreement, culminating in the Dublin and Monaghan bombings and the reimposition of British direct rule.

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Donnacha Ó Beacháin

This chapter covers the period from 1980, when Charles Haughey became Taoiseach, to 1992, when he resigned, a decade largely defined by his rivalry with Fine Gael leader, Garret FitzGerald. It begins with assessing Haughey’s uphill battle to engage Margaret Thatcher in a major Anglo-Irish political process. The chapter illuminates how these efforts were stymied in turn by Dublin’s overselling of what had been agreed at the 1980 Haughey–Thatcher summit, republican hunger strikes and the Falklands War. It also explores how Irish Governments responded, particularly through the New Ireland Forum, to the electoral rise of Sinn Féin in Northern Ireland during the 1980s.

The latter part of the chapter compares Haughey’s efforts to engage the British Government with those of FitzGerald who, despite several obstacles, secured Thatcher’s approval of the Hillsborough Agreement, signed in 1985. The chapter concludes by examining the difficult period after Haughey returned to office in 1987 as he tried to work the Anglo-Irish Agreement he had previously opposed.

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Donnacha Ó Beacháin

This chapter covers the period from the foundation of the Irish Free State in 1922 to the defeat of the Cumann na nGaedheal Government a decade later. It demonstrates how a fundamental shift in Northern Ireland policy coincided with Michael Collins’s assassination and that this impacted on a variety of crucial issues such as republican unity, North–South contacts and attitudes to the Stormont regime. The chapter then scrutinises the conduct of the Boundary Commission and analyses how the Irish Government tried to salvage something from the unfavourable 1925 report, which reinforced partition.

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Introduction

Parties and policy making in Ireland

Donnacha Ó Beacháin

This introductory chapter provides an overview of political parties and policy making in Ireland over the last century. It highlights the remarkable continuity of political institutions that survived the revolutionary tumult of 1916–1923. It also emphasises how government in Ireland, post-independence, has been extraordinarily centralised, to an extent rarely seen in a democracy. The chapter proceeds to examine how the Taoiseach (Prime Minister) and cabinet dictate the content and schedule of the legislative agenda, a system ring-fenced by a weak legislature, largely ceremonial president and feeble local government.

The second part of the chapter provides a brief analysis of the Irish party system and explains why it bears little resemblance to its European counterparts. It concludes by examining political parties in Ireland, highlighting the differences between them and evaluating their contribution to Irish politics. Noting the traditional dominance of Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael, the chapter explains how devising the Irish Government’s Northern Ireland policy has been the purview of remarkably few parties.

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Donnacha Ó Beacháin

This chapter begins with assessing the Irish Government’s position on Northern Ireland following the bombing of Dublin and Monaghan, and the collapse of the Sunningdale power-sharing institutions established by the Sunningdale Agreement. Using previously top-secret archival files, the chapter demonstrates how Dublin drew up extensive plans for how to respond to a complete breakdown of society in Northern Ireland, which might follow a British withdrawal. The chapter produces evidence of the psychological detachment between the Irish Government and northern nationalists, and how Dublin increasingly acted on the basis that aggression in the North was one-dimensional, occluding rigorous examination of violence perpetrated by loyalists and by the British state.

The latter part of the chapter examines the Northern Ireland policies of the Fianna Fáil administration that won a handsome majority in 1977. It highlights the challenges of the Jack Lynch-led Government in seeking to achieve progress with a weak administration in London dependent on unionist votes. The chapter concludes by demonstrating how Charles Haughey and his supporters succeeded in exploiting Lynch’s weaknesses on Northern Ireland policy as a means to undermine and ultimately dislodge him.

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Donnacha Ó Beacháin

From Partition to Brexit is the first book to chart the political and ideological evolution of Irish government policy towards Northern Ireland from the partition of the country in 1921 to the present day. Based on extensive original research, this groundbreaking work assesses the achievements and failures of successive Dublin administrations, evaluating the obstacles faced and the strategies used to overcome them. Challenging the idea that Dublin has pursued a consistent set of objectives and policies towards Northern Ireland, this timely study reveals a dynamic story of changing priorities. The picture that emerges is one of complex and sometimes contradictory processes underpinning the Irish Government’s approach to the conflict.

Drawing on extensive archival research and interviews, the author explores and explains the gap between the rhetorical objective of Irish unity and actual priorities, such as stability within Northern Ireland and the security of the Irish state. The book explains why attempts during the 1990s to manage the conflict in Northern Ireland ultimately proved successful when previous efforts had foundered. Identifying key evolutionary trends, From Partition to Brexit demonstrates how in its relations with the British Government, Dublin has been transformed from spurned supplicant to vital partner in determining Northern Ireland’s future, a partnership jeopardised by Britain’s decision to leave the European Union.

Informed, robust and innovative, From Partition to Brexit is essential reading for anyone interested in Irish or British history and politics, and will appeal to students of diplomacy, international relations and conflict studies.

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Donnacha Ó Beacháin

This chapter begins by outlining the Northern Ireland policies of the new five-party coalition Government, the first non-Fianna Fáil Irish Government in sixteen years. It proceeds to highlight how Dublin rejected practical policy options designed to weaken partition, such as representation of northern MPs in the Dáil or Seanad or even a right of audience. The chapter then examines the Irish Government’s response to the IRA’s border campaign.

Seán Lemass’s premiership is assessed, particularly in terms of his functional cooperation policy towards Northern Ireland leading to symbolically significant meetings with Stormont Prime Minister Terence O’Neill. It is contended that the new detente between the Dublin and Belfast Governments made Northern Ireland’s Nationalist Party increasingly vulnerable to being outflanked by an emergent civil rights movement.

Jack Lynch’s unexpected rise to the position of Taoiseach and his difficulties in fully controlling his cabinet on the formulation and implementation of Northern Ireland policy are analysed in detail. The chapter demonstrates how the emergence of the civil rights movement and the inability of Terence O’Neill to deliver fundamental reforms contributed to the end of the functional cooperation experiment.

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Donnacha Ó Beacháin

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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Donnacha Ó Beacháin

This chapter examines the Irish Government’s role in the Northern Ireland peace process, from its embryonic, almost imperceptible, origins during the early 1990s to the aftermath of Britain’s decision to leave the EU. It begins with evaluating Albert Reynolds’s strategy for establishing a sustainable IRA ceasefire through collaboration with John Hume and Gerry Adams, and by engaging the British and US administrations. It demonstrates how Bertie Ahern and Tony Blair paved the way for all-party talks culminating in the 1998 Good Friday Agreement. The chapter considers the Irish Government’s handling of issues arising from the peace process, such as decommissioning IRA weapons and policing, and demonstrates how a new power-sharing arrangement, based primarily on the DUP and Sinn Féin parties, was negotiated as part of the St Andrews Agreement in 2006. The chapter examines how these policies have been developed by Ahern’s successors as Taoiseach, Brian Cowan, Enda Kenny and Leo Varadkar.

The chapter concludes by examining how Brexit has subverted many of the assumptions on which Irish government policies towards Northern Ireland were predicated and has introduced profound uncertainty into Anglo-Irish relations. The final section evaluates the prospects for an end to partition.

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Thomas M. Hanna

This chapter reviews many of the reasons articulated in favour of public ownership in both theory and practice. It starts by discussing economic rationales like natural monopoly, market failure, revenue generation, and technology transfer, before going on to discuss broader political-economic concerns. The latter includes the role public ownership can play in reducing inequality (with regards to both race and income and wealth); bolstering democracy (both in terms of reducing the domination of corporate and elite interests and asserting democratic control over economic decision-making at all levels); addressing ecological issues (especially climate change and growth); managing automation and technological change; and ensuring transparency and the widespread distribution of information (itself a pre-requisite for genuine democratic participation).