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Sean MacBride : a republican life, 1904-1946

Nic Dhaibheid, Caoimhe2014
Books, Manuscripts
Focusing on one of Ireland's most controversial political figures, this book gives an account of Sean MacBride's republican activities, also exploring political subversion within the Irish Free State, the nature of the collaboration with Nazi Germany, and the larger narrative of a revolutionary movement in decline. This book critically examines the republican career of one of Ireland's more controversial political figures, Sean MacBride (1904-1988), focusing on his subversive activities prior to his reinvention as a constitutional politician.MacBride, a Nobel and Lenin prize-winning humanitarian, was a youthful participant in the Irish Revolution of 1916-1923. He was an active member of the Dublin Brigade of the Irish Republican Army during the War of Independence, and found himself on the losing side of the 1922-23 Civil War. Rising through the ranks of the depleted and demoralised post-revolutionary republican movement, MacBride occupied a leadership position in the Irish Republican Army for fifteen years, bridging the difficult formative years of the Irish Free State to the ascent of de Valera and Fianna Fail. Leaving behind an active part in the republican movement in 1938, MacBride moved into legal circles, carving out a successful career at the Irish Bar through the years of the Emergency, while maintaining links with both the IRA the German legation in Dublin. As well as providing the first scholarly assessment of MacBride's political career within the Irish republican movement, this book offers wider reflections on the transition from violent republicanism to constitutional politics. The book also analyses internal tensions and strategic shifts within the Irish republican community in the post-revolutionary period, in particular the oscillations between politics and militarism, and considers the political, ideological and moral challenges that the Second World War presented to Irish political culture. Sean MacBride, son of Easter Rising leader John MacBride and nationalist activist Maud Gonne, was an key figure in the Irish republican movement in the decades after independence. Rising to the position of Chief-of-Staff in 1936, in 1938 he left the IRA and concentrated on his burgeoning career at the Irish Bar. In 1946 he founded a new republican political party, Clann na Poblachta and was elected to Dail Eireann in 1947. The following year, he and his party helped to form Ireland's first coalition government, MacBride taking the ministerial portfolio of External Affairs. As Minister, MacBride was intimately involved in the early stages of European co-operation, and oversaw Ireland's exit from the Commonwealth and the declaration of the Republic in 1949. In 1951, the coalition government collapsed when MacBride refused to support the position of Noel Browne, his party and cabinet colleague, in his attempt to introduce free health care for mothers and children. Exiting Irish politics some years later, MacBride reinvented himself as a humanitarian activist, acting as Chairman of Amnesty International, Secretary-General of the International Commission of Jurists, and President of the International Peace Bureau. He was appointed United Nations High Commissioner to Namibia, and lent his name to the contested MacBride Principles, aimed at enforcing free employment practices in Northern Ireland. He was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1974 and the Lenin Peace Prize in 1976. Despite these illustrious achievements, MacBride remained a controversial figure in Irish and Anglo-Irish political circles, owing to his long association with violent Irish republicanism. This book examines MacBride's republican career in-depth, helping to explain why he was viewed with such suspicion by the political establishment up to his death in 1988.
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Liverpool : Liverpool University Press, 2014.
245 pages ; 24 cm
Originally published: 2011.
AcknowledgementsAbbreviationsIntroduction1. 'The Centre of Delight of the Household': 1904-19162. 'Fighting the Tans at Fourteen': 1916-19183. Sean MacBride's Irish Revolution: 1919-19214. Rising through the Ranks: 1921-19265. 'The Driving Force of the Army': 1926-19326. 'The Guiding Influence of the Mass of the People should be the IRA': 1932-19377. Becoming Legitimate? 1938-19408. 'Standing Counsel to the Illegal Organisation': 1943-1946EpilogueConclusionBibliographyIndex
9781781380116 (pbk)
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