Irish republicanism


May 20, 2022

Irish republicanism is a political ideology opposed to the British presence in Ireland, and advocating the unification of the island into an egalitarian republic.


During the nineteenth century it was strongly influenced by the radicalism of the American and French republics. By the middle of the 20th century the predominant influence within Irish republicanism became Marxist-Leninist and anti-colonialist. The founder of Irish republicanism is the Protestant Theobald Wolfe Tone and his movement, the United Irishmen, inspired by the American Patriots and the Patriots of revolutionary France. At the end of the 18th century, this idea was promoted both by the liberal Protestant bourgeoisie of Ireland and by the Catholic peasantry. After the failure of the Irish rebellion of 1798, the Protestant bourgeoisie split in two - as in France with Legitimists and Orleanists, a liberal and moderate camp sided with the English Establishment, a liberalism which was however too conservative for the Republicans Irish, who like their radical counterparts of the time called for deeper democratization, starting with equal voting rights (universal suffrage); while a reactionary camp actively militates for the preservation of discrimination (Orangism and loyalism). Unlike its French or American counterparts, this ethno-religious context within the United Kingdom means that Irish republicanism harbors two poles. One is revolutionary, secular and egalitarian, inspired by the radical republicanism of the French and American revolutions and the Spring of the Peoples of 1848: it mythologizes the old broken union between Catholics and Protestants, a feeling symbolized by the Irish flag, union of green of the Irish and the orange of the Orangemen. However, in a context of ethnic and religious political discrimination (see: anti-Catholicism in the United Kingdom, penal laws, and the civil rights movement in Northern Ireland), Irish republicanism contained a reading compatible with Catholic clericalism as well. , a Catholic nationalism in which we see influences from Maurice Barrès and Charles Maurras. Beginning in the 19th century, like contemporary radical republican movements such as the Carbonaris, armed action held an important place in Irish republican tradition. Its history is dotted with uprisings and underground armed groups: the United Irishmen in the 1790s, Young Ireland around 1848, the Fenian Brotherhood around 1860, the Irish Republican Brotherhood around 1880, the Irish Volunteers around 1916, and the Irish Republican Army and its presumed successors (Irish Republican Army (1922-1969)) and namesakes (Provisional Irish Republican Army) since 1919.

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