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If Dev wasn't the most important Irish Politician of the 20th Century: who was?


Congalltee

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I would have though that the matter was well beyond dispute. But some, have an irrational hatred of the man (and presumably his party) than they cannot judge him objectively. But cannot name anyone more important?

Why is Eamon De Valera the most important and influential politician?
His achievements:
a) Getting Ireland's independance recognsied internationly.
b)Foundind the Irish Press and then Fianna Fail (whatever your views, they have considerable influence)
c) Releasing the IRA prisoners as promised.
d) Sidlining the Governor General
e) Getting sovereignty of Treaty Ports.
f) Got a Constitution passed by popular appeal (and leaving aside Abortion, divorce and Europe, there have been few succesful attempts to change it)
g) Keeping Ireland out of World War two.
h) He was President of the Executive Council, leader of the opposition (both inside and outside the Dail), Taoiseach (he took a pay cut taking the job) and President.

There is plenty of hatred, but when asked who is the alternative as the most influential Irishman of the 20th Century, there is little by way of response. Why is this?


... without the insight of Lemass and his single-minded conviction and leadership, Dev's FF would have succombed to failure.
http://www.politics.ie/history/123036-ireland-all-politicians-who-command-ed-respect.html#post2420450

Dev was the first political thief ffs. He stole the Irish Press which was funded by American donations so that the Irish people would have a voice. Do not mention that traitor. He used his American birth to avoid the death penalty when all his comrades were executed.
http://www.politics.ie/history/123036-ireland-all-politicians-who-command-ed-respect-5.html#post2421060
 


meriwether

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Dev was without a doubt the most important politician in the history of the state.

The role of Collins was glorious, but ultimately, overstated. His violence achieved partial independence in 3 years, that possibly would have taken 10 years without him. Perhaps we wouldn't even have got it until WWII.

Dev's importance also derives from his absolutely catastrophic influence on the state, from the civil war, to the trade war, to his backward ethos that wou;d have us poor but pure. Emigration and dancing at the crossroads was fine by him.
 

Congalltee

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Albert Reynolds

The greatest Taoiseach to date
Is that on a per diem basis?

(If Cowen stays in office until the 11th March, 2011, he will pass his Master out in terms of length in office, though probably not in terms of achievement).
 

turdsl

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I would agree that he was the most important ant influential person of his time, but unfortunately it was used for the wrong, reason not to mention the civil war,he was responsible for starving half the country during the economic war and the other half to leave the country,Influence used to keep the country in the dark ages until Lynch came along
 

QuizMaster

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I have to agree with Meriwether. De Valera was the most influential politician for all the wrong reasons.
His cynical out-manoevering of Collins in the talks of 1921 was shameful.
His pursuit of the civil war was shameful.
His founding of Fianna Fail and swearing an oath of allegiance to the King was a shameful betrayal of the men he led to their death, fighting against that very thing.
He then allowed the Roman Catholic Church to get a stranglehold on the fledgling state.

We would have been far far better off without him, whatever his real name was.
 

The Field Marshal

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Dev was without a doubt the most important politician in the history of the state.

The role of Collins was glorious, but ultimately, overstated. His violence achieved partial independence in 3 years, that possibly would have taken 10 years without him. Perhaps we wouldn't even have got it until WWII.

Dev's importance also derives from his absolutely catastrophic influence on the state, from the civil war, to the trade war, to his backward ethos that wou;d have us poor but pure. Emigration and dancing at the crossroads was fine by him.
Pure speculation on Collins.

You assume we would have got independence by WW2. What if we had not,eh?
We probably would not be having this conversation as the Germans would have bombed us to bits,.

The strong liklyhood in your scenario is that Ireland would still be an integral part of the British empire.
 

toughbutfair

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Dev was clearly the most important.

However, his achievements are equally matched by his failings so I don't think he was the greatest. Lemass was the greatest - followed by Haughey (for leading the 1987 government).

FF have dominated Irish politics which is why the three I refer to are all FF.
 

QuizMaster

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Who was this man we call Eamon De Valera anyway?
From wikipedia:
De Valera was born in the New York Nursery and Child's Hospital in New York City in 1882 to an Irish mother; he stated that his parents, Catherine Coll (subsequently Mrs Wheelwright), an immigrant from Bruree, County Limerick, and Juan Vivion de Valera, a Cuban or Spanish settler and sculptor, were married on 18 September 1881 at St. Patrick's Church located within the Greenville Section of Jersey City, NJ.[6] However, exhaustive trawls through church and state records give no birth, baptismal, or death certificate information for anyone called Juan Vivion de Valera or de Valeros, an alternative spelling. The historian Sean Murphy has listed the long-term search for facts about Mr de Valera, allowing that he may have come from New Mexico, and was perhaps returning there at the time of his death.[7][dubiousdiscuss]
On de Valera's original birth certificate, his name is given as George De Valero and his father is listed as Vivion De Valero. The first name was corrected in 1910 (possibly 1916) to Edward and the surname to de Valera.[7]
Éamon de Valera - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
 

GDPR

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Following your question, imo the most important excluding Dev. was Sean Lemass, but the most important single piece of legislation was by Donagh O'Malley when he introduced free second level education in 1967 and in true style he did it against the advice of the civil service, particularly of those in the Dept. of Finance.
 

Congalltee

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Dev was clearly the most important.

However, his achievements are equally matched by his failings so I don't think he was the greatest. Lemass was the greatest - followed by Haughey (for leading the 1987 government).

FF have dominated Irish politics which is why the three I refer to are all FF.
I would agree with you that Lemass, Haughey, Dukes, McSharry, WT Cosgrave were all men of achievment (though one of them rarleely gets any credit); but there are few international politicians who could match De Valera for achievements in founding a political party, his constitutional reform, his radicalism in the 1930s, his success in winning elections, or holding such international standing to become the face/voice of his country.

People wrongly think Abe Lincoln founded the Republican Party, Churchill had as many personal flaws as he had credits, Mandela (like Dev was a jailed political prisoner) held office for a short time. Konrad Adenauer - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia is the only one of can think of.
 

meriwether

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Pure speculation on Collins.

You assume we would have got independence by WW2. What if we had not,eh?
We probably would not be having this conversation as the Germans would have bombed us to bits,.

The strong liklyhood in your scenario is that Ireland would still be an integral part of the British empire.
Of course its speculation on Collins.
D'uh.

You are also speculating that the Germans wold have bombed us to bits, I gleefully must point out.

As well as the last sentence. Further glee.
 

TheTipperaryMan

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Pure speculation on Collins.

You assume we would have got independence by WW2. What if we had not,eh?
We probably would not be having this conversation as the Germans would have bombed us to bits,.

The strong liklyhood in your scenario is that Ireland would still be an integral part of the British empire.
Collins was a fundamentally a military strongman and he deliberately cultivated a cult of personality.
When he was assassinated he was plotting to supply arms supplied by the British for the Free State Army, to the IRA in Northern Ireland to fight the Stormont regime.
Collins was a right wing Catholic Nationalist conservative.
If Dev had died instead of him, it is possible Collins with help from other militarists would have established a fascist regime on the lines of Franco's Spain, Mussolini's Italy or Piłsudski Poland.
 

toughbutfair

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I would agree with you that Lemass, Haughey, Dukes, McSharry, WT Cosgrave were all men of achievment (though one of them rarleely gets any credit); but there are few international politicians who could match De Valera for achievements in founding a political party, his constitutional reform, his radicalism in the 1930s, his success in winning elections, or holding such international standing to become the face/voice of his country.

People wrongly think Abe Lincoln founded the Republican Party, Churchill had as many personal flaws as he had credits, Mandela (like Dev was a jailed political prisoner) held office for a short time. Konrad Adenauer - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia is the only one of can think of.
He had many achievements and is our most important. However refusing to accept the result on the people's vote on whether to accept the treaty is unforgiveable. Also, his economic policies held the country back.
 

Congalltee

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Collins was a fundamentally a military strongman and he deliberately cultivated a cult of personality.
When he was assassinated he was plotting to supply arms supplied by the British for the Free State Army, to the IRA in Northern Ireland to fight the Stormont regime.
Since when is being cuaght in a 20 minute gun fight an assasination? It was an ambush.
 

Edo

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Hmm - in my humble opinion - the most Irish important politician of the 20th century wasn't actually a politician at all - he was a civil servant - T.K, Whittaker.

all the "important" turning points of the 20th Century - 1957 and the Whittaker report being adopted / the start of proper dialogue with the North, 1987 and the Tallaght strategy and possibly the end of the Celtic Tiger era - what all these have in common is that they were all taken in desperation when the bills finally became due for all the populist economic,social and nationalistic nonsense that is pursued in this country most of the time by politicians of all stripes in the constant need to be re-elected.

It is a sad indictment on the political establishment and the people of this country that we only decide to the right thing when we've burnt the house to the ground and are staring at the apocalyse straight in the face - then a couple of years on the straight and narrow and then we fall off the wagon faster than George Best and the whole damn circle repeats itself over again.

Lets just take Collins,Cosgrave,Dev and Lemass

Collins- who flipping well knows - was only 31 when he died - hard to know anything else - was a practical guy and all we have to guess his economic policies are fragments of a some speeches on the stump in the 1922 elections - which would suggest that his economic vision was far more pragmatic and to the centre than many would have thought , given the laissez faire and strict bookkeeping pursued by the Free State Gov which followed.

Cosgrave - a good chairman, a good organiser ,a so so minister with little imagination and a crap politician -terrible - where have we heard that before in respect of FG leaders eh:D
He was a man of his time, trapped by his time and events and in the end - his administration must go down as - fair - could have done better. In his favour - the stability of the state, the effective putting down of the army mutiny, keeping O'higgins on the leash,forcing De Valera into democratic politics, the chipping away of the restrictions surrounding the Free state culiminating in the Statutes of Westminister- leaving Dev with a straighforward run getting rid of the symbols which of course get the plaudits and last but not least, the peaceful changover with FF in 1932 - nothing more became Cosgrave in office than his manner of leaving it. The downsides - too much of our time was taken up proving ourselves to the Brits that we could manage our own affairs, resulting in us taking up British ideas and norms regarding the structure and running of our institutions - when we might have been better off looking further afield at societies and countries we had far more in common with. Economic policy was non-existent outside an obssession with balancing the books and trying to do things cheaper than anywhere else to impress outside investors , resulting in deflation,stagnation and mass emigration and few international investors - maybe Mr lenihan should take a look at Ernest Blythes time in office and learn a few lessons -ie you can not depress your way into an economic recovery. Other downers would be kow towing to the Catholic Church in matters like education,divorce and sensorship and no concept of the need for a proper social redistributive system.

DeValera.

Where as Cosgrave wanted economic prosperity, but was pretty much clueless and reliant on an economic philosophy that hit the bufffers (Globalised free trade) during his time in office - DeValera's required economic frugality - poverty makes you pure - I think that nation paid a heavy price for Dev's obssession with his idealised (or imaginary?) childhood in rural county Clare - then again economics was never Dev's strong point and was competely secondary to the nationalist symbolism - and once that had run its course and that partition was an established fact - he really had nothing more to give. Was the economic war worth it? - in economic terms - absolutely not - in nationalist terms - definitely yes - 200,000 emigrants for 3 obsolete "treaty" ports that Chamberlain gave away for nothing like everything else he did. the Pluses - Devalera was always more of an adapter as opposed to an inventor or innovator - The constitution is a good example - its basically the Saorstat constitution with a fresh lick of green paint, a few intangible and rhetorical flourishes for the die hards , a sop but nothing more for the Catholic Church and is basically a statement of life at the time in Ireland in the mid 1930s -it was Catholic,conservative,sexist and an awful boring stagnating hole to live in - still with 80% of Europe descending into dictatorship of one colour or the other - it was a good and brave constitution for its time. He did well on the whole emergency thing aswell - on balance neturality or neutrality that favoured the allies - was the best possible compromise he could do - the Brits , at the end of the day, were happy enough with the arrangement, It allowed Dev to deal effectively with those elements who would have no problem with the Nazis coming in. It was the one occasion when Dev decided to live in the real world and we should be thankful to him for that.

Lemass

I used to think that Lemass was the bees knees and that modern Ireland was his invention etc etc - having done a lot of reading up on him and his times over the last couple of years - I'm slowly, but steadily revising my opinion on him from the unquestioned god- like status he seems to have among all sections of a society - something I think derives from the fact that he wasn't a puritan prudish rural gaelic disco dancer like Dev, clueless and dithering when it came to economic issues like Lynch or a complete reckless populist chancer like Haughey. Funnily he is completely overrated in his ministerial accomplishments and totally under-rated in his political accomplishments. For me - Lemass was the political organiser bar excellence - he was one who forced Dev into leaving the fairyworld of anti-treaty Sinn fein in 1920s and into setting up FF , he was one who spent the next 7 years organising and building up the party and its grassroots - Dev was only a quasi-glorified figurehead who couldn't organise a piss-up in a brewery or anything practical - Lemass was the one who once in office took every advantage to make sure FF stayed - he was the prime mover behind the once every 2 years gentle moving of the electoral goal posts and constituencies to make sure FF got every bang for their buck and more in the 1930's - he was an absolutely brilliant organiser and political manager. His accomplishments in the ministry of Industry and Commerce are mixed, to put it politely - his protectionist/Self sufficiency policies of the 1930's weren't quite a disaster , but werent a roaring success either - the emogration boat is the best measurement of success in that regard and that speaks for itself. While the protectionist agenda had its uses during the emergency - outside of those exceptional circumstances - the protectionist agenda and the use of public funds for private industry ,especially the building industry .it could be said to be the beginning of FF relationship with the building fraternity and the discriminate use of public funds to other protected industry and the fact that is was up to the dept who got those funds and who got tarriffs protecting them meant that it was wide open to the "jobs for the boys" network etc etc and unfortunately that did happen in spades and overall left our industries in a very weak condition because lobbying and sucking up to FF was far cheaper and easier than having to establish export markets.
DeValera cannot be blamed for cramping Lemasses style because he pretty much got a free run and the freedom from Dev to do what he wanted there within reason. So for nearly 25 years Lemass pursued his protectionist agenda as regards economic policy - he was also a die-hard on the partitionist agenda - so what happened - in essence when FF were reelected to gov in 1957 - something had to give -at the end of another decade of unprecedented emigration - as always when boxed in a corner and all other options exhausted - he started to do change his opinions - he was helped in that by Whittaker - who had been noticed and promoted by the previous FG/Lab coalition - and he basically threw his entire economic strategy for the previous 25 years in the bin and started afresh - talk about a late bloomer - but thank god he was pragmatic enough to be able to that - there is no worse sight in life than a politician committing hari-kari on the altar of ideology and unshakeable beliefs - like Captain Abab and Moby dick. the lasting pity is that he saw thru Haughey and did nothing to stop him.
 

Rocky

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I'd agree that de Valera was the most important politician of the 20th Century. However that doesn't mean he was the best or even good. For example was the most important politician in Zimbabwe's/Rhodesia history is Mugabe.

Most of the achievements that are listed in the first post are simply symbolic. Ireland was in reality completely Independent in 1932 and that was still the case in 1948. He was still right to do them, but it's easy to make them out to be far more important then they were. For example they had no impact on the lives of the vast majoirty of Irish people. Other achievements which are listed weren't achievements at all, for example releasing IRA prisoners and also legalising the IRA in 1932. As in response to this the IRA went on a campaign of violence and imitation in the Irish Free State and de Valera banned the organisation again in 36, jailed many of them and even went on to executive several members of the IRA during WWII.

The two main ways in which we should judge any politician is through their handling of the economy and the services that the state provides and in both of these areas de Valera was a complete failure. Throughout his whole tenure Ireland continued to remain stricken with poverty and the only option open to a huge number of Irish people was emigration and that should never be forgotten. Our main export was our people.

His handling of the Education and Health system was no better. In both cases he out sourced these key areas of government control to the Catholic Church, with no government oversight and as we all know this led to many abuses within our education system and to the suffering of many many children.

Finally the original list mentions that he won a lot of elections, which of course he did. However going back to a thread on Cowen from a while back, winning election shouldn't be an end in itself or even an achievement, as obviously it has no effect on the people as a whole. It is what you do with the power you gain from elections, that is important.
 

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