Sinn Féin and the IRA: From Revolution to Moderation

Matthew Whiting

Research output: Book/ReportBook


When Sinn Féin and the IRA emerged in Northern Ireland in 1969 their goal was to use a combination of revolutionary politics and violence to overthrow British rule. Today, the IRA is in a state of 'retirement', violence is a tactic of the past, and Sinn Féin are co-rulers of Northern Ireland and an ever growing player in the politics of the Republic of Ireland. This is one of the most startling transformations of a radical violent movement into a peaceful political one in recent times. Yet doubts still linger around the sincerity of such a dramatic transformation. So what exactly changed within Irish republicanism, what remains the same, and, crucially, what caused these changes? Where existing studies explain the decision to end violence as the product of stalemate or strategic interplay with the British state, this book draws on a wealth of archival material and interviews to argue that moderation was a long-term process of increasing inclusion and contact with political institutions, which gradually extracted moderate concessions from republicanism. Crucially, these concessions did not necessitate republicans forsaking their long-term ethno-national goals. The book also considers the wider implications of Irish republicanism's moderation for other cases of separatist conflict, and has significance for future study of state responses to violent separatism and of comparative peace processes.
Original languageEnglish
Place of PublicationEdinburgh
PublisherEdinburgh University Press
Number of pages173
ISBN (Electronic)978 1 4744 2056 3
ISBN (Print)978 1 4744 2054 9
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2018


  • political moderation
  • radicalism
  • Irish republicanism
  • Democratisation
  • Terrorism


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