The Dynamics of Irish Politics

The Dynamics of Irish Politics

The Dynamics of Irish Politics

The Dynamics of Irish Politics

Excerpt

Well into the 1960s the predominant image of the Irish Republic, even amongst those in Britain who might have been expected to be more sympathetic to the heirs of the 1916 rising, was strongly negative. Asked by the New Statesman to report on the state of the Irish nation on the fiftieth anniversary of the Easter Rising, Mervyn Jones gave the reaction of a friend, a left-wing academic,

'You're going to Ireland? That must be a dreadful country.' He
meant, it developed, a country in which the economy is
stagnant, emigration is the only road to betterment, the radical
impulse associated with the name of James Connnolly is extinct,
the government is subservient to bigoted priests and all
worthwhile literature is censored.

Jones would discover that such an image of Ireland was increasingly out of touch with crucial new developments in the economy and society of the Republic. For although the left in Ireland was indeed feeble, there were signs of new life and possibilites of expansion, unthinkable in the drab, depressed decades of the 1940s and 50s. Even the Catholic Church's formidable grip on much of the moral and social life of the country was facing new international and domestic challenges. As Jones recognised, the crucial material precondition for ending Irish backwardness in so many spheres of social and political life was the break with economic autarky initiated at the end of the 1950s. The gradual reintegration of the Republic's economy into the international economic order would produce a radical transformation in its economic and social structure. Most starkly it would put an end to over a century of emigration and population decline. Thus in 1966, after over forty years . . .

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