Censorship, Internment and Section 31, Interview with Brian Hanley.

A republican poster from 1976, satirising the description of the IRA as ‘Men of Violence’.

An interview with Brian Hanley on the impact of the Northern Ireland conflict on the Republic of Ireland, during the conflict’s most intense period, the 1970s. Brian’s book reviewed here.

See also, our previous interviews with Hanley on the impact of the Northern ‘Troubles’ on the south here.



In this interview, we focus mainly on the government and media’s response to the conflict north of the border. Popular Republican understanding has it that the southern government, particularly the Fine Gael led coalition and especially Labour Party minister Conor Cruise O’Brien, isolated the Republican movement through censorship and repression.

Brian Hanley argues that it was in fact Fianna Fail who first introduced Section 31, banning the IRA from broadcast media and who flirted with internment in 1969 to clamp down on Republican subversion. Similarly, while some argue that the southern media’s response to the Troubles was uniformly to condemn the IRA, Hanley shows that there was more diversity of views than might be expected in the 1970s.

We also discuss the changing role of popular opinion south of the border and whether it was circumstances of media influence that drove popular attitudes towards the north.

Brian also argues that while on both sides rhetoric invoking the Civil War of 1922-1923 between the Irish Free State and the IRA was employed, violence in the south during the Northern ‘Troubles’ in reality never approached that pitch.

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