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Lecture 13: Ireland: 1948- 1957. Corpus Christi Procession, Cahir, Co. Tipperary.

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Presentation on theme: "Lecture 13: Ireland: 1948- 1957. Corpus Christi Procession, Cahir, Co. Tipperary."— Presentation transcript:

1 Lecture 13: Ireland: 1948- 1957

2 Corpus Christi Procession, Cahir, Co. Tipperary

3 ‘Austerity; shortages; snowdrifts; food and fuel rationing; low wages; high prices; differences with the church and with the supreme court; the Ward affair; the teachers’ strike and other industrial disputes – it was hardly the most promising material for a Fianna Fáil party seeking to fashion the platform for the seventh consecutive election victory.’ Fanning, R, Independent Ireland, p161

4 Fine Gael: the Commonwealth, conservative, strong farmer party Clann na Poblachta: Radical, republican party Clann na Talmhan: small farmer party Labour: split into two squabbling factions

5 Clann na Poblachta ‘Party of the republic’ Founded 6 July 1946 Many members were republican activists Sean MacBride – party leader Left-leaning nationalist policies Quickly established a network of branches throughout the country Won 13.2% of the vote (10 seats) in the 1948 election There was a split in the party in the wake of Noel Browne’s Mother and Child scheme Only won 2 seats in the 1951 election Continued to contest elections until 1965

6 Séan MacBride Leader of Clann na Poblachta Son of Major John MacBride (executed in 1916) & Maud Gonne, the inspiration for many of Yeats’ greatest love poems Chief of staff of the IRA in 1936 Broke with the IRA and accepted the 1937 constitution Opposed the IRA bombing campaign in Britain in 1938-39 Practised as a barrister - defended many of his former IRA colleagues Appeared at inquests for the next-of-kin of IRA hunger-strikers who died in 1940 and in 1946.

7 Clann na Poblachta Wanted the External Relations Act of 1936 repealed A thirty-two county republic Advocated a more active campaign against partition Laid heavy emphasis on social issues Attacked the evils of emigration, unemployment and rising prices

8 Original caption: Madam Maud Gonne, 83, one known as "The World's Most Beautiful Woman", casts her vote in the Eire General Elections. With her is her son, Sean MacBride, Dublin lawyer who is leading his new Republican party, Clann na Poblachta, in a campaign to oust Prime Minister Eamon de Valera. Madam Gonne is one of the great figures in Irish Republican history. Incomplete returns indicated that de Valera's Fianna fail, the government party, would lose its majority.

9 1948 Election Results Clann na Poblachta: Won 13.2% of the vote (10 seats) - the highest ever won by a minor party in its first election Fianna Fáil: Won 41.9% of the vote (67 seats) Fine Gael: 31 seats Labour: 14 seats Clann na Talmhan: 7 seats Independents: 12 seats

10 ‘The big message was: put Dev out anyway and give us – and yourselves – a chance.’

11 Dr Noel Browne (1915-1997) Appointed Minister of Health on his first day in the Dáil Member of Clann na Poblachta Inspired by the establishment of the British National Health Service Created problems for his party leader, Sean MacBride

12 The inter-party government and economic policy Running the economy proved difficult with four parties in power Shift in financial policy Financial orthodoxies challenged from within the government Economic committee established to undertake survey of economic position of the state Ireland participated in the ERP Ireland: founder member of the OEEC

13 ‘Do we mean to house the people, provide hospital beds for the sick, or do we not? I think we do, and prophesising woe and dislocation…cuts no ices at all, because whatever the economic consequences…(of) providing hospital beds and evacuating verminous tenement rooms, they cannot be worse than letting TB patients cough their lungs out in the family kitchen, or letting the rats of Ringsend eat the second ear off the child who has already lost one in a Ringsend rat-ridden tenement room…’ John Dillon speaking during a Dáil debate


15 Taoiseach John A. Costello External Relations Act repealed in 1949 Ireland left the Commonwealth Costello: ‘It placed the question of Irish sovereignty and status beyond dispute or guesswork’ Announcement made at press conference in Ottawa in 7 September 1948 Ended the era ushered in by the treaty split

16 John Costello and Sean MacBride during an interview with the Picture Post magazine, where they explained why they believe that Éire should break all connections with the Commonwealth.

17 Noel Browne and TB Brought a crusading zeal to the campaign against TB By July 1950 his emergency bed programme almost doubled the provision for TB patients in 2 years TB death rate down from 124 per 100,000 in 1947 to 73 per 100,000 in 1951

18 ‘It is an over-simplification to present the Mother and Child scheme…as a straight conflict between church and state’ Lee, J, Ireland 1912-1985, p318 ‘The episode should be viewed as the culmination of the church’s growing disquiet about the growth of state power…’ Fanning, R, Independent Ireland, p181

19 ‘If the hierarchy give me direction with regard to catholic social teaching or catholic moral teaching, I accept without qualification in all respects the teaching of the hierarchy and the church to which I belong.’ Taoiseach John A. Costello

20 ‘The powers taken by the state in the proposed Mother and Child Health Service are in direct opposition to the rights of the family and of the individual and are liable to very great abuse. Their character is such that no assurance that they would be used in moderation could justify their enactment. If adopted in law they would constitute a ready- made instrument for future totalitarian aggression. Irish Catholic hierarchy’s response to Mother and Child scheme

21 The right to provide for the health of children belongs to parents, not to the state. The state has the right to intervene only in a subsidiary capacity, to supplement, not to supplant. It may help indigent or neglected parents; it may not deprive 90 per cent of parents of their rights because 10 per cent are necessitous or negligent parents. It is not sound social policy to impose a state medical service on the whole community on the pretext of relieving the necessitous 10 per cent from the so-called indignity of the means test.

22 The right to provide for the physical education of children belongs to the family and not to the state. Experience has shown that physical or health education is closely interwoven with important moral questions on which the Catholic Church has definite teaching. Education in regard to motherhood includes instruction in regard to sex relations, chastity and marriage. The state has no competence to give instruction in such matters. We regard with the greatest apprehension the proposal to give local medical officers the right to tell Catholic girls and women how they should behave in regard to this sphere of conduct at once so delicate and sacred.

23 Gynaecological care may be, and in some other countries is, interpreted to include provision for birth limitation and abortion. We have no guarantee that state officials will respect Catholic principles in regard to these matters. Doctors trained in institutions in which we have no confidence may be appointed as medical officers under the proposed services, and may give gynaecological care not in accordance with Catholic principles.’

24 Memorandum dated 12 April 1951. It records the visit of Taoiseach John A. Costello to President Seán T. Ó Ceallaigh, advising the President that Dr. Noel Browne, Minister for Health, wished to tender this resignation as a member of the government and that it should be accepted. (NAI, Office of the Secretary to the President, PRES 1/P 4633)


26 Ireland in the 1950s Collapse of the inter-party government in May 1951 was followed by a series of minority governments Fianna Fáil government of 1951-4: worst de Valera government Between 1951 and 1951 employment in industry fell by 14% The numbers employed in agricultural fell by 200,000

27 In 1948 80,000 Irish people still lived in one room dwellings. In 1946 over 300,000 Irish homes had no sanitary facilities. The average Irish family was still twice as large as the average British family. Tens of thousands of Irish people left the country in the 1950s to seek work overseas. The Inter party governments of 1948-51 and 1954-57 had not dramatically changed the social and economic landscape of post independent Ireland.

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