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Building the Political Party and ‘Republicanization’, 1981–5

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Abstract

The election of Bobby Sands as the MP for Fermanagh/South Tyrone in May 1981 ushered in a new era for Sinn Féin and the broader republican movement. It marked the point at which republicans embraced a new, electoral-driven approach to politics. This reality was confirmed by the announcement, following the death of Sands, that his election agent, Owen Carron, would stand for the again vacant seat. Given that republicans had previously claimed that Sands’ intervention represented a once-only ‘borrowing’ of the seat for the prisoners’ cause, Carron’s candidacy indicated that republican involvement in politics would be more enduring than first imagined; all the more so, as Kevin Rafter has noted, because Carron declared, when subsequently elected (as he was in August 1981, on the same ‘National H-Block/Armagh’ ticket as Sands), that he would stay on beyond the end of the hunger strike, but now as a Sinn Féin MP.2 In becoming the modern Sinn Féin party’s first elected representative at national level, Carron (despite the fact he was displaced at the subsequent 1983 British general election), set the stage for the 1981 Sinn Féin ard fheis, at which Danny Morrison made his proclamation of the ‘Armalite and the ballot box’ strategy.3

Keywords

Political Party Labour Party Irish Unity Hunger Strike Party News 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.

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Notes

  1. 6.
    ‘Republicanization’, as described by Adams, encapsulates the message put across by ‘Brownie’ in his numerous articles. See, for example, ‘Brownie’, ‘Agitate, Educate, Liberate’, Republican News, 22 May 1976; G. Adams, The Politics of Irish Freedom (Dingle, 1986), pp. 86–7.Google Scholar
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  5. 33.
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  6. 38.
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    The IRA informer, Freddie Scappaticci, confirmed that this was the term used by republicans when he was interviewed by a team from a TV programme, The Cook Report. Cited in M. Ingram and G. Harkin, Stakeknife: Britain’s Secret Agents in Ireland (Dublin, 2004), p. 80.Google Scholar
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    Adams on Brass Tacks, BBC Radio 2, July 1984, cited in P. Bew and H. Patterson, The British State and the Ulster Crisis: From Wilson to Thatcher (London, 1985), p. 125.Google Scholar
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    Morrison, cited in G. Kerrigan, ‘“The IRA has to do what the IRA has to do”. Interview with Danny Morrison’, Magill, September 1984, p. 11; H. MacThomas, ‘Elections strategy outlined’, AP/RN, 2 May 1985.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Martyn Frampton 2009

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.PeterhouseUniversity of CambridgeUK

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