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The politics of constitutional nationalism in Northern Ireland, 1932-1970Between grievance and reconciliation$
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Christopher Norton

Print publication date: 2014

Print ISBN-13: 9780719059032

Published to Manchester Scholarship Online: September 2014

DOI: 10.7228/manchester/9780719059032.001.0001

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The Sinn Féin challenge and the birth of the Nationalist Party, 1955–59

The Sinn Féin challenge and the birth of the Nationalist Party, 1955–59

(p.121) 6 The Sinn Féin challenge and the birth of the Nationalist Party, 1955–59
The politics of constitutional nationalism in Northern Ireland, 1932-1970

Christopher Norton

Manchester University Press

This chapter deals with the demise of the IAPL in a period which witnessed the revival of IRA militarism and the rise of republican parties - Sinn Féin and Fianna Uladh - as competitors for the nationalist vote. The decision by the IALP not to contest the nationalist held seats of Mid Ulster and Fermanagh & South Tyrone and to leave Sinn Féin as the only anti-partition challengers is shown to have been a major political and tactical blunder. The chapter argues that while Sinn Féin’s success in taking the seats led some within the IALP to retreated to traditional positions other liberal-left and moderate elements within constitutional nationalism took the opportunity to push for a renewed and united nationalist party. The failure of the new Nationalist Party to integrate the existing left-nationalist parties, its failure to take on board the significance of the revived electoral fortunes of the Northern Ireland Labour Party in 1958, and the decision to again concede winnable Westminster parliamentary seats to Sinn Féin in 1959, are all identified as being symptomatic of a party whose strategy was becoming increasingly redundant.

Keywords:   Fianna Uladh, IALP, liberal-left, Nationalist Party, Northern Ireland Labour Party, Sinn Féin

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