chapter  12
70 Pages

A World at War

Guarding the Irish state
WithSeán McConville

The severe prison sentences and the executions during the Second World War deeply affected Éamon de Valera and Gerald Boland; the two floggings were of little or no importance to them, the country or their Irish Republican Army (IRA) opponents. Repeatedly, in speeches in the Dáil and elsewhere, de Valera and Boland set forth a narrative of constitutional reform, attempted conciliation and violent rejection. They nevertheless were, faced with an armed conspiracy, acting on the venerable adage, ‘England’s peril, Ireland’s opportunity’. It is not surprising that this mixture of public duty, party-political posturing and private frustration erupted in baffled anger from time to time. De Valera and his colleagues in Fianna Fáil had sought, and largely succeeded, in advancing the republican project and in unifying its family. But in the IRA they found a group of very close relatives who despised the extended hand.