Jason KnirckApr 2, 2023
Democracy and Dissent in the Irish Free State
Opposition, Decolonization, and Majority Rights
Manchester University Press 2023
Jason Knirck is the chair of the History Department at Central Washington University. He is a modern Irish historian who also teaches British and western European history. His research concerns the Irish revolution and the foundation of the Irish Free State, focusing particularly on the political rhetoric of the period. Some of his previous books include Women of the Dáil: Gender, Republicanism and the Anglo-Irish Treaty and Afterimage of the Revolution: Cumann na nGaedheal and Irish Politics, 1922-32 and he is co-editor, with Mel Farrell and Ciara Meehan, of A Formative Decade: Irish Politics and Political Culture in the 1920.
In this interview he discusses his new book, Democracy and Dissent in the Irish Free State (Manchester University Press, 2023), a history of minor parties and democracy in post-colonial Ireland.
A new analysis of the difficulties in normalising opposition in the Irish Free State, Democracy and Dissent in the Irish Free State analyses the collision between nineteenth-century monolithic nationalist movements with the norms and expectations of multiparty parliamentary democracy. The Irish revolutionaries' attempts to create a Gaelic, postcolonial state involved resolving tension between these two ideas. Smaller economically-driven parties such as the Labour and Farmers' parties attempted to move on from the revolution's unnatural focus on nationalist political issues while the larger revolutionary parties descended from Sinn Féin attempt to recreate or restore notions of revolutionary unity. This conflict made democracy and opposition hard to establish in the Irish Free State.
Aidan Beatty is a historian at the Honors College of the University of Pittsburgh.