Irish republican internal politics, c.1965-72: competition, fragmentation, and the adoption of violence

Masters Thesis

Deacon, N. 2019. Irish republican internal politics, c.1965-72: competition, fragmentation, and the adoption of violence. Masters Thesis Canterbury Christ Church University Faculty of Arts and Humanities
AuthorsDeacon, N.
TypeMasters Thesis
Qualification nameMasters by Research

This dissertation traces the changing strategies adopted by Irish republicans in competition with one another, during the period 1965-72. Two distinct forms of political conflict are identified and examined: internal and inter-organisational competition. In each political context, the competitive strategies devised and employed were markedly different. Between 1965-9, the predominant form of republican competition was intra-organisational in nature. Rival teams within the IRA were formed as a result of ideological divergence. In a most strategic fashion, these teams adopted a range of manoeuvres aimed at securing the levers of power. This dissertation argues, contrary to former historical accounts, that the IRA split of 1969 was triggered by a shift in control. One team managed to eventually obtain the means of control so as to allow them to determine the direction of that revolutionary vehicle. Consequently, the losing faction(s) were forced to adopt a second-rate, schismatic, strategy. Splits are, therefore, indicative of centralisation within an organisation and can only be indirectly explained by ideological and strategic divisions. The split, in severely fragmenting republican politics, qualitatively transformed the competition. Rival IRAs, amid decentralisation in Northern Ireland, engaged in a dual contest between themselves and the British state to control events and spaces. In this context, violence was frequently adopted as a means of extending and maintaining authority. By isolating the strands of republican competition for analysis, it is argued that the civil war in Northern Ireland must be re-examined as an entanglement of secondary and primary conflicts. Multiple lines of competition overlapped with one another making it difficult to determine who were allies and enemies.

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Deposited28 Jan 2020
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