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Old 14-01-2018, 04:51 PM
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The surprise election of Count Plunkett in February 1917 may be viewed as a protest vote against the Parliamentary Party rather than a show of support for any of the individual groups who had backed him, for at this stage, the separatist movement consisted of several diverse bodies with a variety of objectives. Within Sinn Fein itself there were moderates who, like its leader Arthur Griffith, still advocated the Dual Monarchy ideal, and others who favoured something more radical. In addition to these there was a new body, The Irish Nation League, set up in the north in response to the Irish Party's failure to deliver on Home Rule without partition. Count Plunkett himself, whose allies included Cathal Brugha and Rory O'Connor, was firmly on the radical side of the nationalist spectrum, a Republican who advocated abstentionism. His announcement after his election that he was going to abstain from Westminster worried the more cautious members of Sinn Fein, and would not have appealed to the likes of the Irish Nation League.
In an attempt to take control of the movement, and move it forward, Plunkett convened a meeting at the Mansion House on April 19th, attended by representatives of the various political groupings and other interested parties, including members of the clergy. It was here that he launched his proposal to set up a new single party, which would be open to anyone in favour of abstentionism and complete independance. Sean Milroy, an ally of Griffith's, then put forward a counter-suggestion, whereby all the various nationalist strands should work together in a confederation.
Although Plunkett's motion was carried, the matter was far from settled and a committee, made up of representatives from the various groups present, was set up, to further debate the issues and find a way forward. Over the next couple of months, Plunkett's new organisation - The Liberty League - set up clubs around the country, but found it could not compete with Sinn Fein, which was also establishing new branches, and which, by October, would have 1,200 clubs and a quarter of a million members. By the end of May/beginning of June, Plunkett had decided to throw in his lot with Sinn Fein, and at a meeting of the Committee, which took place at Cathal Brugha's house, it was agreed that half the Sinn Fein Council would be replaced by Plunkett's supporters, including Cathal Brugha, Rory O'Connor and Michael Collins, (who seems to have had a finger in nearly every pie at this time). They were joined by several others, including de Valera and Markievicz, upon their release from prison in June. With Arthur Griffith remaining leader for the time being, this new council would be responsible for running the party until the Convention was held at the end of October.
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  #122  
Old 14-01-2018, 09:41 PM
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A week before the Convention, the Council held a meeting to redraft the Constitution so that it would be palatable to all concerned, the moderates like Griffith, and those who wanted to remain true to the Proclamation, many of whom had been active in Easter Week. The main bone of contention was, of course, whether Ireland should seek republican status or independence as part of a dual monarchy, which Griffith thought would provide greater stability. After much heated discussion - during which some members walked out and had to be persuaded to come back - the matter was finally resolved when Eamon de Valera made what Tom Dillon called an "extraordinary statement": "Sinn Fein aims at securing the international recognition of Ireland as an independent Irish Republic. Having achieved that status the Irish people may by referendum freely choose their own form of government." Ambiguous though it was, de Valera's statement seemed to meet with the approval of both factions, and peace was restored.
Following his success in brokering the peace at the meeting, de Valera met Arthur Griffith at a coffee house, where he asked Griffith to nominate him for the leadership of the party, claiming that if there was a contest he would win anyway. This was something of a bluff as although he had the support of the more militant factions in the movement, most of the party were still committed to constitutional methods and would have backed Griffith. Nevertheless Griffith agreed to stand aside and nominated de Valera for the leadership when the Convention opened on 25th October. Count Plunkett, who had also put himself forward, now withdrew and Dev was duly elected. Following a vote, Griffith was appointed Vice-President.

Last edited by KatieMorag; 15-01-2018 at 01:35 AM.
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