Brian Hanley on Fianna Fail

Historian Brian Hanley talks to John Dorney about the rise and fall of Fianna Fail in the wake of the February 2011 General Election, where the party fell to just 17% of the vote and 19 seats out of 166 – a historic defeat for Ireland’s former, ‘party of government’.

 Fianna Fail was founded in 1926, out of the ashes of the defeated anti-Treaty IRA and Sinn Fein of the Civil War. Brian argues that the party was founded both to give a voice to unfulfilled nationalist expectations of the 1916-23 period and to avoid the emergence of class politics that might displace nationalist aims as political priorities.

 In 1932, Fianna Fail came to power for the first time. Initially a populist party, Fianna Fail attempted to create domestic industries to supply the domestic market and also embarked on social programmes such as house building.

Fianna Fail initially aspired to represent the “little man” but was never a socialist party

 In part one of our interview, Brian Hanley talks about the successes and limitations of Fianna Fails first two decades of power.

 Brian Hanley on FF – Part 1 

Since 1932, Fianna Fail has been in power for 59 of the intervening 78 years up to 2010. As they settled into power, from the 1950s onwards, the major negatives associated with Fianna Fail are a repressive social morality that was in some ways subservient to the Catholic Church, and various levels of corruption, due to being tightly entwined with Ireland’s business elite.

 What is commonly considered a major success of Fianna Fail since 1959 is the economic liberalisation started by Sean Lemass and continued, indeed accelerated until the present. In Part 2, Brian gives his views on these questions, as well as on whether Civil War politics are now over.

 Brian Hanley on FF – Part 2

 Dr. Brian Hanley is the author of; The IRA A Documentary History, 1919-2005, The IRA: 1926-1936, and with Scott Millar, The Lost Revolution, The Story of the Official IRA and the Workers’ Party. He teaches History at St Patrick’s College, Dublin.

Listen to our previous interviews with Brian Hanley here –

The IRA’s ideology

The IRA at War

Thanks to Irish Election Literature site for use of the above image.

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