A Slightly Revolutionary Party:Labour and Parliamentary Politics in the Early Free State

Document Type


Department or Administrative Unit


Publication Date

Winter 2017


Much of the historical analysis of the Labour Party's parliamentary launch has focused on its electoral failures and its unwillingness to articulate a radical message, but the party actually played a crucial role in the creation and steadying of Irish democracy, despite its paucity of deputies. For one thing, the party's participation in the post-revolutionary Dáils during the abstention of anti-Treatyites provided greater legitimacy to the parliament as a representative multiparty body. Labour also took on the role of a broad opposition party, ranging beyond its staple socioeconomic issues to criticize the government on its foreign policy, its record on civil liberties, and its commitment to democracy.


This article was originally published in New Hibernia Review. The full-text article from the publisher can be found here.

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New Hibernia Review


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