Seán MacBride, son of Easter Rising leader John MacBride and nationalist activist Maud Gonne, was an key figure in the Irish republican movement in the decades after independence. Rising to the position of Chief-of-Staff in 1936, in 1938 he left the IRA and concentrated on his burgeoning career at the Irish Bar. In 1946 he founded a new republican political party, Clann na Poblachta and was elected to Dáil Éireann in 1947. The following year, he and his party helped to form Ireland’s first coalition government, MacBride taking the ministerial portfolio of External Affairs. As Minister, MacBride was intimately involved in the early stages of European co-operation, and oversaw Ireland’s exit from the Commonwealth and the declaration of the Republic in 1949. In 1951, the coalition government collapsed when MacBride refused to support the position of Noël Browne, his party and cabinet colleague, in his attempt to introduce free health care for mothers and children. Exiting Irish politics some years later, MacBride reinvented himself as a humanitarian activist, acting as Chairman of Amnesty International, Secretary-General of the International Commission of Jurists, and President of the International Peace Bureau. He was appointed United Nations High Commissioner to Namibia, and lent his name to the contested MacBride Principles, aimed at enforcing free employment practices in Northern Ireland. He was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1974 and the Lenin Peace Prize in 1976. Despite these illustrious achievements, MacBride remained a controversial figure in Irish and Anglo-Irish political circles, owing to his long association with violent Irish republicanism. This book examines MacBride’s republican career in-depth, helping to explain why he was viewed with such suspicion by the political establishment up to his death in 1988.
Dr Caoimhe Nic Dháibhéid is Lecturer in Modern History at the University of Sheffield. From 2010-1012 she was Rutherford Research Fellow at Fitzwilliam College, University of Cambridge.
1. 'The Centre of Delight of the Household': 1904-1916
2. 'Fighting the Tans at Fourteen': 1916-1918
3. Seán MacBride's Irish Revolution: 1919-1921
4. Rising through the Ranks: 1921-1926
5. 'The Driving Force of the Army': 1926-1932
6. 'The Guiding Influence of the Mass of the People should be the IRA': 1932-1937
7. Becoming Legitimate? 1938-1940
8. 'Standing Counsel to the Illegal Organisation': 1943-1946
June 9, 2011