Irish Republicanism

Irish republicanism (Irish: Poblachtánachas Éireannach) is an ideology based on the belief that all of Ireland should be an independent republic. The development of nationalist and democratic sentiment throughout Europe in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries was reflected in Ireland in the emergence of republicanism, in opposition to British rule. This followed hundreds of years of British conquest and Irish resistance through rebellion, and union of the crowns of both countries since 1542. Discrimination against Catholics, attempts by a subjugating power to create an impression of inferiority and subdue or eliminate cultural identity, and a feeling that Ireland was economically disadvantaged and subservient within the United Kingdom were among the specific factors leading to such opposition.

The Society of United Irishmen, formed in the 1780s and led primarily by liberal Protestants, evolved into a revolutionary republican organisation, inspired by the American Revolution and allied with Revolutionary France. It launched the 1798 Rebellion with the help of French troops. The rebellion had some success, especially in County Wexford, before it was suppressed. A second rising in 1803, led by Robert Emmet, was quickly put down, and Emmet was hanged. The Young Ireland movement, formed in the 1830s, was initially a part of the Repeal Association of Daniel O'Connell, but broke with O'Connell on the issue of the legitimacy of the use of violence. Primarily a political and cultural organisation, some members of Young Ireland staged an abortive rising, the Young Irelander Rebellion of 1848. Its leaders were transported to Van Diemen's Land. Some of these escaped to the United States, where they linked up with other Irish exiles to form the Fenian Brotherhood. Together with the Irish Republican Brotherhood, founded in Ireland by James Stephens and others in 1858, they made up a movement commonly known as "fenians" which was dedicated to the overthrow of British imperial rule in Ireland. They staged another rising, the Fenian Rising, in 1867, and a dynamite campaign in Great Britain in the 1880s.

In the early 20th century IRB members, in particular Tom Clarke and Seán MacDermott, began planning another rising. The Easter Rising took place from 24 to 30 April 1916, when members of the Irish Volunteers and Irish Citizen Army seized the centre of Dublin, proclaimed a republic and held off British forces for almost a week. The execution of the Rising's leaders, including Clarke, MacDermott, Patrick Pearse and James Connolly, led to a surge of support for republicanism in Ireland. In 1917 the Sinn Féin party stated as its aim the "securing the international recognition of Ireland as an independent Irish Republic", and in the general election of 1918 Sinn Féin took 73 of the 105 Irish seats in the British House of Commons. The elected members did not take their seats but instead set up the First Dáil. Between 1919 and 1921 the Irish Republican Army (IRA), who were loyal to the Dáil, fought the British Army and Royal Irish Constabulary (RIC) in the Irish War of Independence. Talks between the British and Irish in late 1921 led to a treaty by which the British conceded, not a 32-county Irish Republic, but a 26-county Irish Free State within the empire.

Read more about Irish Republicanism:  Political Parties

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