The Making of Fianna Fail Power in Ireland, 1923-1948

The Making of Fianna Fail Power in Ireland, 1923-1948

The Making of Fianna Fail Power in Ireland, 1923-1948

The Making of Fianna Fail Power in Ireland, 1923-1948

Synopsis

This is the first major study of the origins, development, and strategies of Fianna Fail; showing how the party achieved its central role in Irish politics. Dunphy explores its historical development, looking at its organizational structure, the evolution of party ideology, and the interactions between party and state. He analyses how the changing social structure of Ireland affected Fianna Fail policies, and demonstrates how the inadequacies of rival political parties' responses to crises benefited Fianna Fail. The author locates the historical experience of Fianna Fail rule in Ireland within the broader dimensions of European politics. The result is a fascinating mixture of detailed empirical research and broader theoretical analysis which reconstructs Fianna Fail's rise to power and explains how it retained its position of dominance.

Excerpt

The process by which a demoralized, dispirited, and defeated minority which emerged from the Irish civil war in 1923 succeeded in becoming the government of the country less than a decade later, and in giving birth to a political party which has exercised clear political dominance ever since, has fascinated and, to an extent, mesmerized political commentators.

Arguably, however, this very mesmerization has deflected serious and detailed investigation of the nature and role of the party, and of how it has contributed to the reproduction of its own central role in Irish political life. Despite the fact that Fianna Fáil has held governmental office for almost two-thirds of the life of the independent Irish state, that its share of the popular vote never fell below 40 per cent in a general election between 1932 and 1992, and averaged above 45 per cent in that period, and that it has been able to draw support with remarkable consistency from all social strata, conveying the impression that it is politically immune to the negative effects of social conflict, no major study of the party's evolution exists. Instead, much of the discussion concerning the growth and maintenance of Fianna Fáil's political dominance has tended to take place within the framework of a general discussion of the peculiarities of the Irish party system, or Irish political culture. Whilst it would obviously be foolish to ignore the insights produced by such debates, the framing of the question in this context may have the effect of diverting attention from important ideological and political factors.

The present work aims at a partial redress of the balance by focusing on the specific role of Fianna Fáil and its involvement with Irish society. While such historical monographs are sometimes charged with a tendency towards over-induction, their very paucity in the Irish context--I refer, of course, to the writing on Irish political . . .

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