In identifying longer-term dispositions in Labour mentalities towards Ireland in the last century, this substantial introduction begins with reference to the historical ‘conversation’ between Irish nationalism and a British radical tradition, dating back to the late eighteenth century and represented in the early twentieth century by the British Labour Party and labour movement. The discussion charts the various junctions in Labour’s relationship with Ireland over the last century in an attempt to understand the development of that ‘conversation’ and the respective domestic and wider, international dynamics that shaped it. Issues such as agrarianism, historical memory, class and empire, are central to the examination of this largely neglected area. By establishing a framework for the discussions which follow in the chapters of the volume, the introduction also serve as an invitation to others to undertake further work, though it is noted that sensitivities remain in relations between ‘these islands’, between the Labour Party and Ireland - in itself a reflect of the often historically fraught nature of the ‘conversation’ in question.
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