Sinn Fein

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The Gaelic for ‘we ourselves’. Formed as a series of clubs in Ireland at the beginning of the 20th cent., until 1916 Sinn Fein was more important for ideas than organization. From 1917 it was used as an umbrella title for the advanced nationalist party which supplanted the parliamentary party. Following its triumph in the 1918 general election, Sinn Fein formed the Dáil government, but in the Anglo‐Irish War it took a back seat and became the political arm of the Irish Republican Army. Splitting over the Anglo‐Irish treaty, under de Valera it supported the republican fight in the civil war 1922–3. In 1926 Sinn Fein divided again over the issue of recognition of the Free State Dáil: the minority adhered to an abstentionist policy and retained the Sinn Fein title, the majority formed the Fianna Fail Party. Sinn Fein abandoned its traditional abstentionist policy over the hunger strikes in 1981 and became increasingly popular among the catholic working class. Under the leadership of Gerry Adams, it took part in the power‐sharing executive between 1999 and 2002. By 2005 it had replaced the SDLP as the larger of the two nationalist parties. After the election of 2007, when Sinn Fein obtained 28 seats in the Assembly, it joined with Paisley's DUP in a power‐sharing administration, with Martin McGuinness as Deputy First Minister.

Subjects: European History.

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