Women’s agency and political violence : Irish Republican women and the formation of the provisional IRA, 1967–70
Title: Women’s agency and political violence : Irish Republican women and the formation of the provisional IRA, 1967–70
Author: REINISCH, Dieter
Citation: Irish political studies, 2018, OnlineFirst
ISSN: 0790-7184; 1743-9078
The split of Sinn Féin and the IRA in 1969 established a lasting schism within Irish Republicanism. Historians tend to narrate the split as the result of an intense struggle between two opposing factions led by men. However, women performed an important role in the Republican movement throughout the twentieth century. This article analyses how women reacted to the factional struggle in the movement between 1967 and 1970. Contrary to the general perception of women as passive subjects in this factional struggle, I argue that Republican women had agency in this process. This agency allowed them to perform an independent role in the factional struggle, empowering them to stage the first public show of strength opposing the leadership at Bodenstown 1968. This process was later marked by the departure of the women’s organisation Cumann na mBan from the movement; by foreshadowing the later split, the Republican women became, as I will argue, de-facto ‘the first Provisionals’. Based on interviews with Republican women, the article outlines the role of women in one of the most significant splits of Irish Republicanism and provides an understanding of how Irish women shaped the politics of the Republican movement during the evolving Northern Irish conflict.
Published online: 12 Dec 2018
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