The Two Irelands, 1912-1939

The Two Irelands, 1912-1939

The Two Irelands, 1912-1939

The Two Irelands, 1912-1939

Synopsis

The partition of Ireland created two states embodying rival ideologies and representing two hostile peoples. This book concerns the revolution which prompted partition, and the legacies of that revolution for the Irish Free State and Northern Ireland. Though less bloody than the nationalist uprising after 1916, Unionist defiance against Home Rule proved equally effective in wresting concessions from a hostile British government. Despite their mutual antagonism, the two revolutionary movements were strikingly similar in their reliance on fraternal solidarity and intolerance of dissent. Both new states were immediately engulfed by civil war, resulting in the ruthless suppression of dissident southern repulicans and northern Catholics. The power of each revolutionary elite was consolidated at the expense of alienating substantial minorities, although republican opponents of the Free State (unlike northern Catholics) eventually joined the democratic process. This is the first sustained attempt to integrate the political history of the two Irelands in the era of revolution and partition. It provides an unexpected and provocative slant on each individual history.

Excerpt

The partition of Ireland created two states embodying rival ideologies and representing two hostile peoples. Roman Catholic nationalists acquired effective control over twenty-six counties in the Irish Free State, while Protestant Unionists secured the six counties of NorthernIreland. By dividing Ireland according to the religion and politics of the local majority in each region,Lloyd George's government hoped to avert further sectarian conflict within Ireland and to absolve the United Kingdom from future responsibility for the 'restoration of order'. This book concerns the revolution which prompted partition, and the legacies of that revolution for the two Irish states. Part I analyses not one but two revolutionary movements, each characterized by massive popular mobilization tending to subvert British control over Ireland. The Ulster Unionist struggle against Home Rule after 1912, though largely bloodless, was initially far more menacing than its nationalist adversary. It also provided a valuable model for the republican revolutionaries who won widespread public support after the 1961 Rising. Essential to the success of both revolutionary movements was the subordination of individual choice to communal solidarity, expressed and regulated through fraternal networks such as the Orange Institution and the Irish Republican Brotherhood.

The ideas and methods of the revolutionary period constituted a formidable and inhibiting legacy for the two new states, discussed in Part II. Each new government was immediately threatened by civil war, leading to the ruthless suppression of disaffected republicans in the south and alienated Catholic nationalists in NorthernIreland. The subsequent maintenance of local power by the dominant majority in each state was not softened by respect for the freedom of individuals or dissident minorities. In the Irish Free State, de Valera's republicans succeeded in winning electoral power in 1932, within eight years of . . .

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