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Was Eamon De Valera a Democrat or Disaster?


Conuil

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For decades, the Irish 'Free' State has relied on special courts, military tribunals and draconian legislation in attempt to crush Irish Republicans.

In 1936, de Valera’s Fianna Fáil government introduced special courts to imprison republicans and three years later, in August 1939, during the IRA’s English Campaign, it also established special military tribunals which were empowered to return only one sentence – the death sentence – from which there was no appeal.

During the early 1940s, hundreds of republicans were interned and sentenced to long periods of imprisonment by special courts. Six IRA Volunteers – Paddy McGrath, Thomas Harte, Richie Goss, George Plant, Maurice O’Neill and Charlie Kerins – were tried by military tribunals, found guilty and executed.

The same Government also allowed another three Republicans, Jack McNeela, Tony D'Arcy and Sean McCaughey die on Hunger-Strike.

So my question is; Was Was Eamon De Valera a Democrat or Disaster?
 

Tigrrr

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In terms of IRA prisoners, he was probably, in the most strict interpretation of the word "democratic", a disaster.

For Ireland, and speaking as a committed Fine Gaeler, he was (in later life) a bit of a legend actually. In many respects he was a very successful politician and leader, I even doubt that the alternatives could have done as well as he did.
 

Jimmy Sands

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Conuil said:
For decades, the Irish 'Free' State has relied on special courts, military tribunals and draconian legislation in attempt to crush Irish Republicans.

In 1936, de Valera’s Fianna Fáil government introduced special courts to imprison republicans and three years later, in August 1939, during the IRA’s English Campaign, it also established special military tribunals which were empowered to return only one sentence – the death sentence – from which there was no appeal.

During the early 1940s, hundreds of republicans were interned and sentenced to long periods of imprisonment by special courts. Six IRA Volunteers – Paddy McGrath, Thomas Harte, Richie Goss, George Plant, Maurice O’Neill and Charlie Kerins – were tried by military tribunals, found guilty and executed.

The same Government also allowed another three Republicans, Jack McNeela, Tony D'Arcy and Sean McCaughey die on Hunger-Strike.
Yes but he did have his bad points as well.
 

caulfield-the-yank

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Forgive the presumptuousness of an outsider, and apologies to my grandparents, who had a different view, but isn't this an easy question?

"The ayes are 64, the nays are 57. The nays have it. The majority has no right to be wrong, so wade through blood... At least until I look into my own heart and say...Never mind."

Not as simple as that, I know, but there's one starting point for the exact and narrow question posed.

But, really, should all this stuff still be the basis for the division of the two major, and very similar, centrist parties in Ireland in the 21st Century?
 
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When came to power in the 1930's he started to dismantle many of the restrictions the treaty imposed upon the Free State.

In 1937 DeValera introduced an constitution which enshrined many of the civil liberties that were being extinguished throughout the world. He had Eire as a republic in all but name.

In 1938 - as a result of the economic war - he secured the return of the treaty ports, which, given the events of the following years, spared Ireland from attack by the Nazi's.

His actions led to the removal of the fledgling facist movement in the state before they could take a hold. He also prevented the re-emergence of the IRA.

His actions during the emergency (okay WWII to the rest of the world) allowed an fledgling nation to survive and grow.

Yes there were the negative side - The aforementioned Economic War which nearly destroyed Irish Agriculture the conservative economic policys when a radical approach was needed, etc. But overall I believe that DeValera was a democrat and good for Ireland.
 

mad world

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Dev was a disaster, he did nothing for nationalists in the 6 counties and he took a repressive stance towards republicans in the 26 counties. Dev also allowed the catholic church to effectively rule Ireland from the 1930's onwards and did very little to tackle the authoritarianism Of John Charles McQuaid. Economically, he was an embarrassment, protectionism was an unmitigated disaster and left Ireland economically isolated for decades. He also stupidly nationalised a number of private industries and increased the role of the state in the economy which I would be strongly opposed to. Emigration went through the roof, basically in a nutshell DeValera should have stayed in New York. It also just goes to show that Fianna Fail are an anti-republican party that are only interested in maintaining their vote in the 26 counties.
 

Alliance

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Disaster is an understatement. A self serving, narrowminded freak is more appropiate.
 

Leopold Bloom

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Conuil said:
So my question is; Was Was Eamon De Valera a Democrat or Disaster?
Conuil's post, of course, blissfully ignores the salient point that the IRA at the time were actively colluding with the Nazis - a treasonable act for which the punisment at the time was capital.

So Sean Russell or Eamon DeValera? I'm not a fan of either, but I'll still take Dev every time.
 

Catalpa

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Correct me if I'm wrong but was not Dev elected to the top executive position in the State in 7 General Elections - (Bertie eat your heart out!)* so how was he not a Democrat?

BTW I don't agree with his allowing the execution of Republican prisoners etc but under the circumstances if he hadn't played hardball he would have seen the collpase of the State in the middle of a World War.

His Catholic philosophy was in line with the vast majority of the citizens of the State - it caused little controversy at the time. It was only in the 1960's that the role of the Catholic Church started to be openly challenged and Article 44 was rescinded from the Constitution by a large majority in 1972 - 13 years after Dev stepped down as Taoiseach!

He was a Democrat and not a disaster - but he was a smooth operator and quite ruthless when he saw his power being challenged.

* re Bertie's recent remarks about the Election 'Since this Country was founded' can you imagine Dev ever saying something as cringeworthy as that? :oops: :oops: :oops:

Don't think he was a Man U fan either come to think of it...
 

cropbeye

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Not a huge fan

Not a huge fan of Dev but.

1. On protectionism; every worthwhile state has gone through a period of
protectionism including the United States though should some of the
Lemass changes have come six or seven yerars earlier probably!

2. On the Church ; The Catholic Church were running Ireland for a long time
before 1936 in fact right back to the 1870's when The British Empire came around to seeeing them as usefull for keeping order in the province and in
turn encourage recruits from Ireland into the Imperial army and civil servie
internationally. Dev may have baulked at taking on the Bishops head on but
on a personal basis he was considerate to people who had unorthodox or minority views.


3 On issolationism: Well he managed to have very good relationships with people as diverse as J F Kennedy Pandit Nehru and Charles De Gaulle in spite of the De Gaulle Non effectivly keeping Ireland out of the
Common Markert for a decade.
 

Riadach

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Was he ever officially returned to the catholic communion?
 

sandar

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Conuil I think you need to use the past tense, The Irish Free State has not existed in any form for more than half a century, Dev acted in a way which was not democratic on numerous occasions, made many mistakes and perhaps has been treated kindly by some of the histories which were written about him, his attitude to 'republicans', well as democratically elected leader of the Irish Free State and later Repoublic, one of his roles was to protect the state from undemocratic flrces, I am opposed to the death penalty so don't agree with the executions, but imprisonment would have been better for people who were ignoring the wishes of their people...de valera was the epitome of lemass' phrase about Fianna Fail being a slightly constitutional party..he made some disastrous decisions as well as some good ones, and prior to the creation of Fianna Fail did not always act democratically, but by the end of his career that had changed
 

caulfield-the-yank

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Agreed, Sandar. (And agreed, Drogpolitician.)

Once he decided to park his Rear Guard on the Front Bench, he was a democrat.

And a positive force during the dangerous years of 1938-1945, yes.

More's the pity he did not get there sooner. Like much else. Such as?

Such as: Opposing the Treaty was perhaps the right thing. But Dev should have announced his opposition immediately, instead of letting support or acquiescence build up for almost a month before he took a clear position. (Query: Would it have really suited Dev if the Treaty had been defeated? Then he, not the Free Staters, would have been held responsible for the consequences.)

Such as: Document #2 was better than the Treaty. But, then, Dev should have drafted it and given it to Collins BEFORE sending him to London, not after Collins came back with the Treaty.

Such as: Taking his seat in the Dail was the right thing to do. But the Deputy from Clare should simply have STAYED in his seat on 6 Jan 1922, and he should have taken the seat to which he was returned unopposed in the June 1922 election, not waited until 1927. (But, then, would there have been a Fianna Fail party, at all?)

And to repeat: This should now be of interest as History only, not as the basis for two-party politics in the 21st Century.
 

Eirenua

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To be a democrat includes accepting the wish of the majority, De Velera did not do this instead he resigned once the people accepted the treaty. One question that I yearn for someone to answer, Why did De Velera decide not to go to London but chose to send envoys plenipotentiary?
 

FutureTaoiseach

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He was a democrat from 1927 onwards. He was right to crack down on the IRA - after all we hardly wanted Southern Ireland to become like Chechnya now because of perceived collusion with them now could we? Too bad the IRA criminal terror-gang didn't have such scruples. He gave us a Constitution that only the electorate could change - in sharp contrast to the Dail-controlled 1922 one - which FG wanted to retain. The real disaster was the IRA post-independence.

Insofar as his policies were disasterous, I would point not to his clampdown on the IRA, but rather to the inclusion in the 1937 Constitution of a ban on divorce, as well as to the "special place" of the Catholic Church in the document, as well as the turning of a blind eye to abuse-allegations in Catholic-run institutions. But that sort of deferential attitude to the Catholic Church was hardly the preserve of FF back then.
 

Jimmy Sands

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I think he gets a bad rap on the Church. CnaG were far more deferential, whereas Dev took the view that given its stance on the Civil War he didn't owe them anything.
 

Rocky

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FutureTaoiseach said:
He was a democrat from 1927 onwards. He was right to crack down on the IRA - after all we hardly wanted Southern Ireland to become like Chechnya now because of perceived collusion with them now could we? Too bad the IRA criminal terror-gang didn't have such scruples. He gave us a Constitution that only the electorate could change - in sharp contrast to the Dail-controlled 1922 one - which FG wanted to retain. The real disaster was the IRA post-independence.
Actually as late as 1929 Dev said in the Dail that he regarded the Dail as illegitimate, did not feel bound by majority rule was prepared to use force again if necessary.
 

Catalpa

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Eirenua said:
To be a democrat includes accepting the wish of the majority, De Velera did not do this instead he resigned once the people accepted the treaty. One question that I yearn for someone to answer, Why did De Velera decide not to go to London but chose to send envoys plenipotentiary?
The majority of what? Those who voted the SF pro Treaty candidates in June 1922 had the largest group of followers in Ireland but were not the majority.

Padraig Pearse and James Connolly did not have the support of the majority at Casca 1916 but went ahead anyway.

Dev didn't go to London because as President he had a Country to run - under the circumstances of the times that needed a hands on approach - he couldn't have been tied up in London in protracted negotiations at such a delicate time.

BTW an for the record he had travelled over to Britain to met the Lloyd George prior to the commencement of the negotiations in October 1921.
 

Eirenua

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Catalpa said:
[
The majority of what? Those who voted the SF pro Treaty candidates in June 1922 had the largest group of followers in Ireland but were not the majority.
:lol:
 

Jimmy Sands

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Those who voted the SF pro Treaty candidates in June 1922 had the largest group of followers in Ireland but were not the majority.
And who were the other anti-treaty parties?
 
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