Arts, Celtic Studies and Social Sciences

Department of Government and Politics Research Seminar Series

Title: Tramecksan and Slamecksan? Explaining the differences between Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael Speaker: Dr Liam Weeks, Lecturer

The Anglo-Irish treaty of 1921 is typically seen as the progenitor of the Irish party system. Not only did it result in the establishment of the modern Irish state, but it also split the nation and the ruling dominant party, resulting in a civil war and a political divide that is still present in the contemporary guise of Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael (and Sinn Féin). For this reason, the parliamentary debates in Dáil Éireann in 1921–2 over the treaty, that split Sinn Féin, proved the foundations of the Irish political and party system. The aim of this paper is examine the nature of this split via a quantitative text analysis of the parliamentary debates. We use a technique that converts text into quantitative data, which is then analysed using statistical software to make inferences about the policy positions of the individual legislators, with the aim being to discover if there were latent dimensions to the treaty split. Our findings are that most TDs cluster around each other, with there being very little difference in their positions. The split was engineered by the treaty and some elites, even though most TDs occupied broadly the same position. In a sense the split was somewhat artificial, as there were no divisions between pro- and anti-treaty TDs. This answers the question of why there are so few differences between Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael, the inheritors of this divide. There never were any differences between them in the first place. Liam Weeks is a lecturer in the Department of Government and Politics in UCC, and an Honorary Senior Research Fellow at the Department of Politics and International Relations at Macquarie University, Sydney. His project was funded by an Irish Research Council New Foundations Grant.

Category: Public Lectures and Seminars: Arts Celtic Studies and Social Sciences
Time: 3pm-4pm
Location: Kane_G20
Target Audience: All welcome
Admission Price: € Free
Contact: Stefanie Wojtek
021 490 2770

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