Is it still about 'the split'? The ideological basis of 'dissident' Irish republicanism since 1986

Whiting, sophie
Is it still about 'the split'? The ideological basis of 'dissident' Irish republicanism since 1986. Doctor of Philosophy thesis, University of Liverpool.

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The focus of this thesis is on the evolution of dissidence within Irish republicanism since 1986, the contemporary phase of competing interpretations of the Irish republican tradition and ideology. Across the various strands of Irish republicanism there exists agreement over the ultimate goal of a united Ireland, but the means of achieving this remain highly contested. Republicanism is represented by a broad spectrum of tactics and principles; from those who consider armed struggle to be an essential element of any republican campaign to those who seek reform within constitutional arrangements. This thesis examines the broad spectrum of republicanism in Northern Ireland and considers whether these rival interpretations can all be accommodated under a broad republican umbrella. It examines how dissidents came to reject the Provisional form of republicanism which, at its outset, had itself been perceived as a dissident reading of republican ideology and method. This examination of intra-republican difference has required assessment of Sinn Féin’s evolution from the margins of political existence to becoming mainstream constitutional players and how the compromises associated with these changes have been rejected by republican ‘ultras’. The signing of the Good Friday Agreement in 1998, the decommissioning by the Provisional IRA (PIRA) and the acceptance of policing exemplified how far Sinn Féin had moved since the 1986 split in the movement, the first fracture which contributed to the emergence of what are today know as ‘dissidents’. Amid such changes from Sinn Féin, the party has come to be seen as ‘mainstream’ republicanism, with ‘dissident’ groups often considered in relation to what Sinn Féin, in their modern day form, represent. The term ‘dissident’ is used to refer to those groups, individuals and factions that have dissented from the Sinn Féin ‘brand’ of republicanism. This thesis assesses the various groups operating under the ‘dissident’ republican label. Using in depth interviews and enjoying a level of access to groups not yet evident to others, it has been possible to explore the origins, strategy and goals of the various strands of republicanism evident in Northern Ireland today. Original data from a media analysis has also been utilised to provide an analysis of dissident republican newspapers and their attempts to construct a ‘counter’ narrative to mainstream media portrayals In assessing tactics, principles and the balance of political and military elements within the republican tradition, the thesis offers a sceptical critique of notions of a single or ‘true’ form of republicanism, rendering the label ‘dissident’ unsatisfactory. Rather it is a label to collectivise a broad spectrum of republican groups attempting to challenge what is seen as ‘normal’ and the ‘accepted’ status quo.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctor of Philosophy)
Additional Information: Date: 2013-01 (completed)
Subjects: ?? JA ??
Divisions: Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences > School of Histories, Languages and Cultures
Depositing User: Symplectic Admin
Date Deposited: 04 Sep 2013 11:51
Last Modified: 16 Dec 2022 04:38
DOI: 10.17638/00009395
  • Tonge, Jonathan
  • Bean, Kevin