February 2020

Home rule

the legacy of the Irish parliamentary party

In August 1940, The Irish Times painted a portrait of the surviving members of the Irish Parliamentary Party defeated by Sinn Féin in the 1918 election. As part of the report, ex-MP John Lalor-Fitzpatrick said that “its members have proved their belief in democratic methods of government; because they returned quietly in the private life, and since then none of them raised a voice against the elected governments or against a verdict of the people ”.

While the former member’s comments were interesting, they were not accurate. While Lalor-Fitzpatrick has returned to private life, many of his colleagues have not. In the first decades of independence, former home leaders entered politics, opposed governments, and even sought to shape the commemoration of the party and its leaders – in turn setting the tone for de many subsequent arguments about its role in achieving self-government and the thorny issue of sharing responsibility.

“Old wine in new bottles”?
David Fitzpatrick described the transition from IPP to Sinn Féin at the local level as “old wine … decanted into new bottles”, but nationally, the level of transfer between politicians was often a longer process than which is sometimes appreciated. Belfast MP Joe Devlin and the Old Order Hibernian political machine remained an important part of nationalist politics in Northern Ireland, but the position in the Free State was different.

Some former national rulers had moved to Sinn Féin before 1918 and most supported the treaty in 1922 because of the stability it offered, but it does not follow that all treaties were private rulers or that the former Redmondites could always be easily accommodated at Cumann na nGaedheal. In terms of personnel, treaty signatories did not garner large numbers of converts initially – the appointment of Tim Healy (Kevin O’Higgins’ step-uncle) as governor general was a nod to the old constitutional tradition, but also a pique to his former rival John Dillon.

Former Chief John Redmond’s son, Capt William, for example, turned down an invitation to run for Cumann na nGaedheal in 1923 and was comfortably elected to Waterford as an Independent – local loyalty also visible in the success of his freelance colleagues James Cosgrave and Alfie Byrne. Labor has absorbed some former Irish Land and Labor Association activists while others have found ways to reinvent themselves in the Farmers’ Party.

In the 1920s, bad memories of the Revolution, Partition, and official disrespect for the accomplishments of Redmond and his colleagues aggravated many recalcitrant leaders – feelings visible in major commemorations of John and Willie Redmond in Ennis and in the southeast. The Irish National League, founded in 1926 by Captain Redmond and his colleague ex-MP Thomas O’Donnell, therefore appeared as an attempt at renewal in the Free State. Composed mostly of former politicians and IPP activists, he polled best where the old party retained its support in 1918.

In the aftermath of O’Higgins’ assassination and Fianna Fáil’s entry into the Dáil, however, the League attempted a risky coalition deal with Labor and Valera – a botched attempt that ended. as a farce because TD John Jinks did not vote on a motion of no confidence, plunging the League into rapid decline.

National leaders and the politics of “civil war”
In the process, Capt Redmond and many colleagues then joined Cumann na nGaedheal ahead of the 1932 election. Yet James Dillon, son of the last IPP leader, and Frank MacDermot, a former Irish Party activist, did not. did not – both remained prominent speakers on agricultural issues, the constitutional status of the state and Irish unity.

The creation of Fine Gael in 1933 therefore marked the last great absorption of former national leaders into new politics as Dillon and MacDermot’s Center Party merged with the Treaties and the Blue Shirts. In the 1930s and 1940s, between 30 and 40 percent of Fine Gael TDs had traceable family roots – from surviving former MPs and councilors to those with more tenuous ties through family or activism.

July 10, 1943: James M Dillon (left) is congratulated on his election as an independent in Monaghan.  Photograph: Haywood Magee / Picture Post / Getty Images

July 10, 1943: James M Dillon (left) is congratulated on his election as an independent in Monaghan. Photograph: Haywood Magee / Picture Post / Getty Images

A group inviting voters to listen to a speech by Irish politician James M Dillon in Monaghan in 1943. Photograph: Haywood Magee / Picture Post / Getty Images

A group inviting voters to listen to a speech by Irish politician James M Dillon in Monaghan in 1943. Photograph: Haywood Magee / Picture Post / Getty Images

Conversions to Fianna Fáil, on the other hand, were rare but notable. Examples include O’Donnell, who joined de Valera’s party after the fall of the National League; Honor Crowley (daughter of former MP John P Boland), elected Fianna Fáil TD in 1945; and Patrick Lynch, de Valera’s opponent in East Clare in 1917, who served as a senator and later attorney general.

It is ironic that although Fianna Fáil absorbed far fewer politicians from the IPP, its discipline in parliament, its interest in local issues and its ability to build lasting constituency networks within a “movement national ”were more like the old party than Cumann na nGaedheal or Cumann na nGaedheal or Beau Gaël. Fianna Fáil’s admiration for the Irish Party, however, was confined to the Land League and Parnell’s party; Redmond, on the other hand, was ultimately remembered in opposition to the victors of the Irish Revolution.

A questionable legacy?

Yet individuals from the PPI have left a distinctive mark on independent Ireland. The initiatives of Dillon and MacDermot to form the Center Party and the Fine Gael helped (albeit unintentionally) to shape the divide between the two major parties – a rivalry, as Mel Farrell noted, also steeped in the years 1930 as the Civil War.

The presence of former Irish Party members in politics has demonstrated the party’s shadow over Irish political life. It was sometimes a dubious legacy for those who entered politics and it was only by joining those from Sinn Féin that they approached real political power. However, their presence highlights the continuities between Ireland before and after independence, highlighting the tenacity of certain modes of political activism and identity ideas.

The roles they played in the early decades therefore belies the most extreme notions surrounding Redmond and his supporters – that they were completely forgotten in the new state, but also the alternative view that the former rulers of the interior were so easily rehabilitated that they could easily resume their place at the forefront of the Irish political establishment.
The Legacy of the Irish Parliamentary Party in Independent Ireland, 1922-1949 by Dr Martin O’Donoghue is published by Liverpool University Press. The book will be launched at the National University of Ireland building, 49 Merrion Square at 6 p.m. on Wednesday, February 19, by Dr Maurice Manning.

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25-Year-Old Yukon First Nations “Cutting Edge” Self-Government Agreements

Twenty-five years later, the work continues.

This is how some describe the implementation of modern treaties among Yukon First Nations. Friday marked the 25th anniversary of the coming into force of the final and self-government agreements.

These agreements set out the rights of First Nations to their traditional territories.

For the Champagne and Aishihik First Nations, the Teslin Tlingit Council, the Vuntut Gwitchin First Nation and the Na-Cho Nyak Dun First Nation, February 14, 1995 was the day they began to implement their treaties.

Seven other Yukon First Nations will sign their final and self-government agreements in the next few years, and three have not yet reached agreements with the federal and territorial governments.

A celebration in 1995, to mark the signing and adoption of self-government agreements in the Yukon. (Radio Canada)

CBC Yukon host Leonard Linklater spoke this week with several people involved in the negotiations in the 1990s. They talked about how the deals were reached and where things stand today.

Comments have been edited and condensed for clarity.

Shirley Adamson, former community negotiator for the Ta’an Kwäch’än Council: “We were the first governments in this territory before contact, and the Indian Act interfered with all of that and took away authority from traditional governments and traditional heads of government, many of whom were matriarchs. And basically we placed all of our traditional laws with the Indian Act which was actually not a law that was in the best interest of the aboriginal people.

“So a lot of people were talking about how our living conditions were so terrible, we couldn’t practice the traditions of our ancestors. We were basically homeless in our homelands. We couldn’t hunt, we couldn’t fishing, unless we were either status Indians or we were going to buy hunting and fishing licenses Many people who were not covered by the privileges of the Indian Act were actually criminalized for practicing way of life of their ancestors since time immemorial.We were losing a lot of control over our children, our children were being removed from our homes and communities.

“So all of that finally came to fruition with people saying we need to take better care of ourselves than those who have a fiduciary duty to take care of us are doing for us right now.”

Robert Bruce, Jr., Former Chief of the Vuntut Gwitchin First Nation“I thought we were signing to break away from Indian Affairs to have our own self-government like our elders had in the past – and that was my thinking. So that was key for me.

Robert Bruce Jr., second from left, attends the Vuntut Gwitchin First Nation Chief and Council Swearing-In Ceremony at Old Crow in 2018. (Alexandra Byers/CBC News)

“The chiefs before me worked a lot on that and sometimes it was a tough negotiation to get it right. And I think we got it right and we’re moving forward.”

Paul Birckel, Former Chief of the Champagne and Aishihik First Nations“I thought we were signing a good agreement, which would give a lot of hope and… which would help most of our people.

“I was very, very emotional at the time because I thought back to all the work that had been done and all the number of people who had worked there and died.

“I had no difficulty signing the agreement because we needed something, some kind of agreement to help our people.”

“I thought we were signing a good agreement, which would give a lot of hope and … which would help most of our people,” said Paul Birckel, former chief of the Champagne and Aishihik First Nations. (Mike Rudyk/CBC)

Tim Koepke, former federal negotiator“This wasn’t a one-time real estate transaction. It was a continuous, evolving relationship improvement, and it’s all about relationships.

“The Yukon is considered cutting edge and it was then. And many of the policies that are included in comprehensive claims in other parts of Canada, particularly in British Columbia, derive many of their good features from these things that we adopted and negotiated in the Yukon.

Shirley Adamson: “People still expect the negotiations to continue today. There are still a lot of things to talk about. We still haven’t seen any major changes.

“Many of the commitments that were made in the Umbrella Final Agreement were not addressed in a timely manner. Other governments are subject to change, the policies of any government in power at that time we sometimes led to spending an incredible amount of time defending our rights.”

Shirley Adamson, former community negotiator for the Ta’an Kwach’an Council. (Meagan Deuling/CBC)

Paul Birkel“I think the only problem we have is that our government’s interpretation of the agreements[s] may not be what we agreed to at the table. So I mean, some of those things probably still need to be ironed out.”

Tim Koepke: “Canada has had public government for 153 years now. The Yukon has had it for 120 years. Pick up the paper every night and you’re still not convinced that public governments are right. So we have to be a little patient. as First Nations governments build capacity, create partnerships, learn to cooperate, and other non-Aboriginal community members also learn about partnership.

“The job will never end, if it goes as it should.”

Paul Birkel“The deal was not just for First Nations people, but also for people across the economy. Because all of our boards and committees were all set up so that none of our First Nations or white people in the territory have any say in what was going on in government.

“So it brought in a lot of people, not just our own people, but everybody – and I think we’re better at it now.

Shirley Adamson“I spend a lot of time working with young people. I give a lot of lectures in college. It always surprises me how few, especially First Nations people, are not fully aware of land claims and the potential of land claim agreements to govern their lives or influence their lives today.

Youth from all First Nations celebrating the dance in traditional dress. (Philippe Morin/Radio-Canada)

“I think we have to deal with that. I think we have to deal with the fact that very few architects, including the leaders of the time and the negotiators, are brought up to talk about the spirit and the l intent of agreements because I don’t think anyone knows better than them what spirit and intent are, so we have to do that.

Robert Bruce, Jr.“I want to say today that we have about 15 young people who are in middle school who speak their language, and their teachers should be very proud of that. And I’m proud of all of them for taking on this task.

“That’s what the land claim is about – going back to our culture where the elders were before. So now that we have these young people learning their language…it will help them move forward in the life. “

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