History of Sinn Féin


History of Sinn Féin

Sinn Féin ( _ga. "Ourselves Alone" or "We Ourselves" ) is the name of an Irish political party founded in 1905 by Arthur Griffith.

Sinn Féin provided a focus for Irish Nationalism in its various forms. Consequently, it encompassed political philosophies from the left and right, Republican and Monarchist, theocrats and atheists. Its break-up during the Irish Civil War in 1922 has had a dramatic effect on politics in Ireland to this day. Even the legitimacy of the assertion made by the party that is registered today as Sinn Féin that it is the primary successor of the original Sinn Féin, is widely disputed.

Dual Monarchy: 1905 to 1917

The original Sinn Féin movement crystallised around the propaganda campaign of Arthur Griffith, a nationalist typesetter, and William Rooney, a republican office clerk, both of whom were extremely active in Dublin's nationalist clubs at the beginning of the 20th century. In his account of the movement's early years, the propagandist Aodh de Blácam says that Sinn Féin "was not a party: it was the amorphous propaganda of the Gaelicised young men and women". Griffith was first and foremost a newspaperman with an impressive network of friends in the Dublin printing industry. His propaganda newspapers, the "United Irishman" and "Sinn Féin", channeled the enormous energy of the self-help generation into an unorthodox political project based on the Austro-Hungarian dual monarchy of 1867 and the theories of the German nationalist economist Friedrich List. Tapping into the growing self awareness of an Irish identity which was reflected in movements like the Gaelic Athletic Association, the Gaelic League ("Conradh na nGaeilge") and in the founding of the Abbey Theatre, he created a loose federation of nationalist clubs and associations which competed with John Redmond] 's Irish Parliamentary Party to embody the aspirations of 20th century nationalists.

Most historians opt for 28 November 1905 as a founding date because it was on this date that Griffith first presented his 'Sinn Féin Policy'. In his writings, Griffith declared that the Act of Union of Great Britain and Ireland in 1800 was illegal and that, consequently, the Anglo-Irish dual monarchy which existed under Grattan's Parliament and the so-called "Constitution of 1782" was still in effect.

Though Sinn Féin had a high name recognition factor among voters it attracted minimal support. By 1915 it was, in the words of one of Griffith's colleagues, "on the rocks", so insolvent financially that it could not pay the rent on its party headquarters in Harcourt Street in Dublin. It was rescued by the mistaken belief among the British administration running Ireland from Dublin Castle that it had been behind the 1916 Rising, an unsuccessful attempt to establish an Irish Republic.

Republicanism: 1917 to 1922

The Easter Rising, 1916

Sinn Féin was not involved in the failed Easter Rising, despite being blamed by the British Government for it. The leaders of the Rising were certainly looking for more than the Sinn Féin proposal a separation stronger than Home Rule under a Dual Monarchy. Any group that disagreed with mainstream constitutional politics was branded 'Sinn Féin' by British commentators. The term 'Sinn Féin Rebellion' was also used by the mainstream Irish media, the Royal Irish Constabulary (RIC), the Dublin Metropolitan Police (DMP) and even by a few of those involved in the Rising.

Later in 1916, surviving members of the Rising led by Éamon de Valera joined the party and soon took control of it. De Valera replaced Griffith as president. It nearly split between its monarchist and republican wings at its 1917 Ard Fheis (conference) until, in a compromise motion, it proposed the establishment of an independent republic, after which the people could decide whether they wanted a monarchy or republic, subject to the condition that if they chose a monarchy, no member of the British Royal Family could serve as monarch.

Sinn Féin's status was boosted in public opinion by the anger over Maxwell's execution of Rising leaders. This was despite the fact that, before the executions, the Roman Catholic hierarchy, the Irish Independent newspaper (the biggest selling daily newspaper in Ireland then and now) and many local authorities actually called for the mass execution of Rising leaders. Yet even that public sympathy did not give Sinn Féin decisive electoral advantage. It fought a tough battle with the Irish Parliamentary Party under John Redmond, later John Dillon, with each side winning by-elections. It was only after the World War I German Spring Offensive, when Britain threatened to impose conscription on Ireland to bring its decimated divisions up to strength, that the ensuing Conscription Crisis decisively swung support behind Sinn Féin.

1918 electoral victory

Sinn Féin won 73 of Ireland's 106 seats in the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland parliament at the general election in December 1918 and many of the seats it won were uncontested. There were four reasons for this. Firstly, despite being the largest party in Ireland for forty years, the Irish Parliamentary Party (IPP) had not fought a general election since 1910. In many parts of Ireland its organisation had decayed and was no longer capable of mounting an electoral challenge. Other seats were uncontested because of mass support, with other parties deciding that there was no point in challenging Sinn Féin given it was certain to win. Contemporary documents also suggest a degree of intimidation of opponents. (Piaras Béaslaí recorded one example in a by-election in Longford in 1917 where a Sinn Féin activist put a gun against the head of a Returning Officer and forced him to announce the election of the Sinn Féin candidate even though the IPP candidate had more votes. Potential candidates who were thought of as serious challengers to Sinn Féin candidates were warned against seeking election in some Ulster constituencies and in Munster, though in Cork all the All-for-Ireland Party MPs stood down in favour of Sinn Féin candidates.)

Because twenty-five seats were uncontested under sometimes dubious circumstances, it has been difficult to determine what the actual support for the party was in the country. Various accounts range from 45% to 80%. Academic analysts at the Northern Ireland demographic institute (ARK) [ [http://www.ark.ac.uk ARK - Social and Political Information on Northern Ireland, in association with Queens University and the University of Ulster] ] estimate a figure of 53% [ [http://www.ark.ac.uk/elections/h1918.htm ARK:The Irish Election of 1918] ] . Another estimate would suggest Sinn Féin had the support of approximately 65% of the electorate (unionists accounting for approximately 20-25% and other nationalists for the remainder). Lastly, emigration was very difficult during the war, which meant that tens thousands of young people were in Ireland who would not have been there under normal circumstances.

On 21 January 1919 twenty-seven Sinn Féin MPs assembled in Dublin's Mansion House and proclaimed themselves the parliament of Ireland, the First Dáil Éireann. They elected an Aireacht (ministry) headed by a Príomh Aire (prime minister). Though the state was declared to be a republic, no provision was made for a head of state. This was rectified in August 1921 when the Príomh Aire (also known as "President of Dáil Éireann" was upgraded to President of the Republic, a full head of state.

In the 1920 city council elections, Sinn Féin gained control of ten of the twelve city councils in Ireland. Only Belfast and Derry remained under Unionist and IPP (respectively) control. In the local elections of the same year, they won control of all the county councils except Antrim, Down, Londonderry and Armagh.

Sinn Féin subsequently underwent successive splits (1922, 1926, 1970 and 1986), from which emerged a range of parties, Cumann na nGaedhael, now known as Fine Gael, Fianna Fáil and Official Sinn Féin, later Sinn Féin The Workers Party, later The Workers Party and then Democratic Left, which finally joined the Irish Labour party after serving in government with them, the present day Sinn Féin and Republican Sinn Féin.

The Split over The Treaty

Following the conclusion (December 1921) of the Anglo-Irish Treaty negotiations between representatives of the British Government and de Valera's republican government and the narrow approval of the Treaty by Dáil Éireann, a state called the Irish Free State was established. Northern Ireland (a six county region set up under the British Government of Ireland Act 1920) opted out, as the Treaty allowed.

The reasons for the split were various, though partition was not one of them — the IRA did not split in the new Northern Ireland and pro- and anti-treaty republicans there looked to pro-treaty Michael Collins for leadership (and weapons). The principal reason for the split is usually described as the question of the Oath of Allegiance to the Irish Free State, which members of the new Dáil would be required to take. It explicitly recognised that the Irish Free State would be part of the British Empire and many republicans found that unacceptable. The pro-treaty forces argued that the treaty gave "freedom to achieve freedom".

A short but bitter Irish Civil War (June 1922 – April 1923) erupted between the supporters of the Treaty and its opponents. De Valera resigned as President of the Republic and sided with the anti-treatyites. The victorious pro-treaty "Free Staters", who amounted to a majority of Sinn Féin TDs and a majority of the voting electorate, set up the Irish Free State. The pro-treaty Sinn Féin TDs changed the name of the party to Cumann na nGaedhael, subsequently merging with the Centre Party and the Blueshirts in 1933 to form Fine Gael.

Post-Split: 1922–1926

Having temporarily suspended armed action in the Free State, the movement split again with the departure (March 1926) of its leader Éamon de Valera, after having lost a motion to abandon abstention if the statement of "Fidelity to the King" were abolished. He subsequently founded the Fianna Fáil with fellow advocates of participation in constitutional politics, and entered the Irish parliament (Dáil Éireann) the following year, forming a government in 1932.

ee also

Sinn Féin - the present-day "Sinn Féin".

Leaders

* Edward Martyn (1905–1908)
* John Sweetman (1908)
* Arthur Griffith (1908–1917)
* Éamon de Valera (1917–26):"In 1923, a substantial portion of the membership became Cumann na nGaedhael":"In 1926, de Valera resigned from Sinn Féin and launched Fianna Fáil"
* John J. O'Kelly (Sceilg) (1926–1931)
* Brian O'Higgins (1931–1933)
* Fr. Michael O'Flanagan (1933–1935)
* Cathal Ó Murchadha (1935–1937)
* Margaret Buckley (1937–1950)
* Paddy McLogan (1950–1953)
* Tomás Ó Dubhghaill (1953–1954)
* Paddy McLogan (1954–1962)
* Tomás Mac Giolla (1962–1970) :"In 1970, split into two parties claiming to be the legitimate Sinn Féin":* Sinn Féin (Gardiner Place), more commonly referred to as Official Sinn Féin. The party renamed itself Sinn Féin, the Workers Party (1982), before settling on The Workers Party of Ireland (1982).:* Sinn Féin (Kevin Street), also referred to as Provisional Sinn Féin. This wing is now generally known as Sinn Féin.
* Ruairí Ó Brádaigh (1970–1983):"In 1986, Ó Brádaigh left and set up Republican Sinn Féin."
* Gerry Adams (1983–present)

References


Wikimedia Foundation. 2010.

Look at other dictionaries:

  • Sinn Fein — Sinn Feiner. Sinn Feinism. /shin fayn / 1. a political organization in Ireland, founded about 1905, advocating the complete political separation from Great Britain of a unified Ireland. 2. a member of this organization. [ < Ir sinn féin we… …   Universalium

  • Sinn Féin — For the 19th century use of the term, see Sinn Féin (19th century). Sinn Féin Secretary General Dawn Doyle Founder Arthur Griffith …   Wikipedia

  • Sinn Féin (19th century) — Sinn Féin was a political slogan used by Irish nationalists in the latter nineteenth and early twentieth century. While advocating Irish national self reliance, its precise political meaning was undefined mdash; whether it meant republicanism or… …   Wikipedia

  • Sinn Féin Printing & Publishing Company — Infobox company company name = Sinn Féin Printing Publishing Company company company type = Limited Liability foundation = 1904 location city = Dublin location country = Ireland key people = Arthur Griffith, Chairman Editor Seán T. O Kelly,… …   Wikipedia

  • Sinn Féin Republicano — Republican Sinn Féin Sinn Féin Phoblachtach Sinn Féin Republicano Portavoz Des Dalton Fundación 1986 [1] Ideología po …   Wikipedia Español

  • Sinn Féin (newspaper) — This article is about Sinn Féin , the newspaper. For the political party, see Sinn Féin. Sinn Féin was a weekly Irish nationalist newspaper edited by the Dublin typesetter, journalist and political thinker Arthur Griffith. It was published by the …   Wikipedia

  • Republican Sinn Féin — Sinn Féin Poblachtach Republican Sinn Féin Partei­vorsitzender Ruairí Ó Brádaigh …   Deutsch Wikipedia

  • Republican Sinn Féin — Infobox Irish Political Party party name = Republican Sinn Féin Sinn Féin Poblachtach party articletitle = Republican Sinn Féin party leader = Ruairí Ó Brádaigh foundation = 1986 [Claims to be a continuation of Sinn Féin, which was launched in… …   Wikipedia

  • Official Sinn Féin — IrishROfficial Sinn Féin (later renamed Sinn Féin the Workers Party ) was a Marxist Irish republican political party which evolved from the split in Sinn Féin and the IRA that took place in 1970. inn Féin split of 1970The leadership of both Sinn… …   Wikipedia

  • Republican Sinn Fein — Republican Sinn Féin Vorsitz Ruairí Ó Brádaigh Gründung 1986 …   Deutsch Wikipedia


Share the article and excerpts

Direct link
Do a right-click on the link above
and select “Copy Link”

We are using cookies for the best presentation of our site. Continuing to use this site, you agree with this.