Abstentionism and the growth of internal divisions

Matt Treacy

in The IRA 1956-69

Published by Manchester University Press

Published in print April 2011 | ISBN: 9780719084720
Published online July 2012 | e-ISBN: 9781781700068 | DOI:
Abstentionism and the growth of internal divisions

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For traditionalist republicans, the refusal to recognise the parliaments in Leinster House and Stormont symbolised their allegiance to the de jure Republic of Ireland which they claimed had been illegally overthrown in 1922. For them, it still had legitimacy with legal authority having been passed to the Irish Republican Army's (IRA) Army Council in 1938 by the surviving anti-Treaty Sinn Féin members of the Dáil elected in 1923. Traditionalists, as represented today by Republican Sinn Féin and the Continuity IRA, still adhere to that belief. A proposal to abandon abstentionism was put to the IRA Convention in November 1964. The strength of the opposition led to a decision to instead hold an extraordinary Convention in 1965. At a local election convention in Louth, Larry Grogan claimed that contesting elections would dispel the notion that Sinn Féin were ‘wild and woolly characters’ divorced from day-to-day realities. As an attempt by the modernisers to change fundamentally the tactics and organisation of the republican movement, the Army Convention and Ard Fheis were failures.

Keywords: Ireland; abstentionism; elections; Irish Republican Army; Army Council; Sinn Féin; republican movement; Army Convention; Ard Fheis

Chapter.  8501 words. 

Subjects: International Relations

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