De Valera, Fianna Fail and the brutal murders of republicans

At present I’m reading  Donnacha Ó Beacháin’s excellent Destiny of the Soldiers, which charts the relationship between Fianna Fail, republicanism and the IRA from 1926-1973.  I’ll get up a review when I’m finished, but I’d already recommend it – it’s not only a fantastic piece of historiography, it’s a great read for thinking about the way the Provo leadership under Adams has gone.  It’s like Adams is channeling the old ratbag de Valera (to my mind the most odious Irish politician ever).

I’m up to the late 1960s, but the part I found most fascinating has been Fianna Fail’s evolution in the 1930s and the way so-called principles were turned into mere tactical issues (see what I mean about Adams?).  This evolution speeded up, of course, once the Soldiers of Destiny got into power.  Soon they were repressing and murdering republicans with the same kind of venom as the Cumann na nGaedheal regime had.  One thing that surprised me was that a number of the IRA members murdered by the regime after ‘trials’ before the Special Military Court were executed by firing squad.  For some reason, it was in my mind that they were always hung.  Ó Beacháin also notes that in a couple of cases the de Valera regime refused to return the bodies to their families.

Also interesting is how the second Inter-Party government (1954-57) initially told the British that they would not use the gardai and Free State Army against the IRA, or hand over wanted Volunteers, even though they knew the IRA had begun training for a new campaign centred on the north.  De Valera, by contrast, was all for full collaboration with the Brits.  Of course, once the Border Campaign started, the John A. Costello-led government began repression against the IRA and it was stepped up when the Soldiers of Destiny got back into government in Dublin.

Also fascinating is de Valera’s patent dishonesty over the north – he really didn’t give a shit about it other than its use as a rallying call for the fairly gullible ranks of his Free State party.  He always opposed Fianna Fail organising in the north and he was deadset against northern Nationalist Party MPs sitting in the Free State Dail, even with merely observer status.

It’s made me want to write something about Fianna Fail’s executions of Volunteers, using stuff from this book.  At present I have a heap of work-work and some pressing family commitments, but I hope to get onto this soon.  However, if anyone else would like to do it, I would be most happy for them to take it on!


Posted on July 9, 2012, in Blog News, Free State in 1920s, 1930s and 1940s, General revolutionary history, Historiography and historical texts, Political education and theory, Republicanism post-1900, Toadyism. Bookmark the permalink. Comments Off on De Valera, Fianna Fail and the brutal murders of republicans.

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