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date: 22 March 2019

Abstract and Keywords

With the appointment of Seán Lemass as Taoiseach in 1959, Ireland entered a period of change that transformed its economy and society. Lemass promoted industrialization, free trade, and membership of the EEC. Change was constrained by the influence of traditional political and social forces. The conflict in Northern Ireland revived irredentism and divided opinion in the Republic. Conservatism became a powerful force and successfully mobilized opinion against abortion, contraception, and divorce. Fianna Fáil became a conservative party while Fine Gael and the Labour party provided a liberal alternative. The onset of the ‘Celtic Tiger’ reflected success in economic policy. These positive features were reinforced by peace in Northern Ireland. However, the revelation of widespread sexual abuse undermined the credibility of the Catholic Church and corruption reflected poorly on the political elite. The collapse of the ‘Celtic Tiger’ led to the virtual collapse of Fianna Fáil at the 2011 general election.

Keywords: Lemass, Fianna Fáil, Northern Ireland, Catholic Church, Secularization, Celtic Tiger, Good Friday Agreement, Economic Recession

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