De Valera, hero or villain?

rictor

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21 April 2021
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Any opinions on De Valera here? An Irish hero to some, hated and considered a crook by others. I know my grandmother's father was a big De Valera fan. Back in the day small farmers alligned themselves with Fianna Fáil along with the urban working class. Fine Gael and their predecessors Cumann na nGaedheal were seen as the party of merchants and big farmers by comparison. Down through the years he's been accused of:

▪️ Setting up Collins by sending him to London to sign the Anglo-Irish Treaty to instigating the Civil War

▪️Using donations raised in America to set up The Irish Press and help with its running costs.

▪️ Abandoning Northern Nationalists from the 1940s onwards.

▪️ Damaging the economy by starting a trade war with Britain, which rubbed up beef farmers the wrong way in particular.

Others had fond memories of the man and spoke highly of him. He risked his life in 1916 and during the cause of fighting for independence. He wrote up large sections of the constitution. His time in government was seen to be one where Ireland and its people were put first, from housing to land grants to his refusal to cave in to Churchill's demands for the treaty ports to be returned to Britain for the duration of the war. Arguments have also been put out there that the Fianna Fáil of Dev and Lemass was a different beast to that of the party we've come to know since Haughey. Authors and historians, including Diarmaid Ferriter have argued this line in books such as Judging Dev, aka. that the rot within FF set in when Haughey came to power.

Possibly one of the most controversial figures in Irish history, loved and hated in equal measure.
 

Rick

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3 November 2015
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A lot of this perhaps goes back to the civil war, Dev fans are traditionally FF, Collins supporters blame Dev for his death and are traditionally FG.

Dev wanted what he thought was best for Ireland, I doubt he gave much thought to what others thought was best for Ireland.

I guess the Ireland we have today is the Ireland that Dev created, though I do wonder if he would be turning in his grave with the outcome.
 

rictor

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21 April 2021
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While most can agree on say O'Connell, not many agree on figures such as De Valera. There's next to nothing named after Dev across the country, which perhaps is no coincidence.

I've always wondered what Ireland would have been like had 1798 been successful. Would we have had the famine, partition etc.
 

gerhard dengler

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This is a difficult one for sure.

Personally I'd give Dev more credit than discredit. I think we can all agree that his legacy is mixed and for many his legacy is highly controversial.
But the legacy of whoever came out of the birth of our nation having gained most, was always bound to be controversial.

Looking at 1916 generation, practically all of the leadership ended up dead. Pearse, Connolly, Ceannt etc were killed by the British.
Collins died in the civil war. Arthur Griffith died of a broken heart.
Only Dev came out of 1916 and gained very significant political power as a result.

As I said his legacy is very controversial. Many would say that for example he allowed too much power devolve to the Catholic Church. But let's examine the circumstances. At the birth of this nation we were immediately bordered by an entity which self proclaimed to be "a protestant state for a protestant people". And let there be no doubt that that entity operated completely to that objective. Whereas this country which was notionally catholic, appointed it's first head of state who happened to be protestant.

The birth of any nation is always problematic and the perceived benefactors of that birth are held up to a particularly high standard.
In many cases Dev didn't meet those standards. I'd argue that no one could.

A measure of how controversial his legacy is - is that the man himself recognised this.
We have public places named after others in 1916 generation. Collins Avenue/barracks, Griffith barracks, Heuston Station, Kent Station, etc.

Dev insisted that the state do not decide to name public spaces in his name after his death. You can view this either way. One way is that Dev wrongly presumed that the state that he created would wish to remember him in this way. The other way is that Dev, even in death wished to have a hold over this state.

I'd like to think that perhaps Dev, realising the bitterness that existed after the civil war, simply preferred to let sleeping dogs lie and not to seek to antagonise those who oppose his legacy by having to use public spaces in his name.

I'll give him more credit than discredit.
 

Rawleen McElsausageogle

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17 October 2021
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The Northern Unionists were not going to surrender to Dev. They would fight and they would win. That is still the case to day. O'Neil tried that at Kinsale and learned the hard way. Most Irish Nationalists in N.I. would vote not to come in here now.
 

Rawleen McElsausageogle

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The trade war was a result of a condition in the treaty. The British Governments bought out the landlords with cash and expected the new owners of tenant land to pay rent to cover the cost. The treaty provided for these rents to continue to be paid. Dev stopped paying and the British imposed sanctions on trade which caused severe hardship in Ireland. Then Hitler started marching up and down and the British wanted Irish produce and hoped for Irish soldiers to fight against Germany. In 1938 they ended sanctions and gave back the ports.

In one case a man brought 5 pigs to market in the fair and could not get a buyer. On the return he notices he had six pigs in the cart. Someone put it because they could not sell it either.
 

Stasia

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Dev trained as a mathematician, and never quite left the profession. He wrote a notable mathematical paper while he was in Lewes Jail.

Plus, he set up DIAS (Dublin Institute for Advanced Studies) in 1939 and installed a whole string of Nobel Prize-winners and the like; the first was Erwin Schroedinger (on the run from Hitlerism at the time) after the latter was given the cold shoulder by Princeton Institute for Advanced Studies, and by Cambridge, because of his unconventional lifestyle (he kept two "wives" in his house, plus a string of mistresses around Dublin). Also a Chinese scholar who returned home from DIAS (in 1949 I think), and led the development of China's atom bomb.

McQuaid/Law Library/the Treatyite crew were appalled, but were reduced to clutching their pearls, as Dev made sure he had the people at his back.

Dev was in contest with the clerical system installed by the Treatyite regime, and undermined both of the latter by a series of strategic moves over decades, despite defeat by the church-ridden Treatyite forces in the 1922-1923 War organised by Churchill & Lloyd George.

Dev had a quite effective clerical ally, Monsignour Pádraig de Brún (Paddy Browne from Grangemockler), an extremely capable individual and fellow-mathematician. Here is de Brún in skittish mode, satirising another Brown, ("Cross Michael", Bishop Brown of Galway, unrelated):

Then up spoke the King of Siam
For ladies I don't give a damn
I get all my joy
From the arse of a boy
You can call me a queer 'cos I am
.

Dev led the ‘excommunicated party’ in the 1920s when the state was clearly set on its ‘church state’ direction by the Free State parties who bought Church support by giving it privilege in health and education, setting the tone for decades. De Valera can hardly be held responsible as he was not in power during that formative decade and not being superhuman he and his party could not redirect the state in another direction immediately on coming to power. That had to wait for the Party to do so in the 1960s.

De Valera’s policies in the 1930s created the basic industrialisation and housing structure of the state when the rest of the world was in the Great Depression. Our economy boomed.

John Maynard Keynes came to Dublin to support de Valera’s economic policies( 19 April 1933). The simple reason being that it was the most sensible economic policy of the time. The UK Itself had broken with free trade and introduced tariffs for the first time. De Valera did what the world was then doing. And he and his party changed when the world situation changed and joined the EU in 1973.
 
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Rawleen McElsausageogle

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17 October 2021
86
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Dev trained as a mathematician, and never quite left the profession. He wrote a notable mathematical paper while he was in Lewes Jail.

Plus, he set up DIAS (Dublin Institute for Advanced Studies) in 1939 and installed a whole string of Nobel Prize-winners and the like; the first was Erwin Schroedinger (on the run from Hitlerism at the time) after the latter was given the cold shoulder by Princeton Institute for Advanced Studies, and by Cambridge, because of his unconventional lifestyle (he kept two "wives" in his house, plus a string of mistresses around Dublin). Also a Chinese scholar who returned home from DIAS (in 1949 I think), and led the development of China's atom bomb.

McQuaid/Law Library/the Treatyite crew were appalled, but were reduced to clutching their pearls, as Dev made sure he had the people at his back.

Dev was in contest with the clerical system installed by the Treatyite regime, and undermined both of the latter by a series of strategic moves over decades, despite defeat in the 1922-1923 War organised by Churchill & Lloyd George.

Dev had a quite effective clerical ally, Monsignour Pádraig de Brún (Paddy Browne from Grangemockler), an extremely capable individual and fellow-mathematician. Here is de Brún in skittish mode, satirising another Brown, ("Cross Michael", Bishop Brown of Galway, unrelated):

Then up spoke the King of Siam
For ladies I don't give a damn
I get all my joy
From the arse of a boy
You can call me a queer 'cos I am
.

Dev led the ‘excommunicated party’ in the 1920s when the state was clearly set on its ‘church state’ direction by the Free State parties who bought Church support by giving it privilege in health and education, setting the tone for decades. De Valera can hardly be held responsible as he was not in power during that formative decade and not being superhuman he and his party could not redirect the state in another direction immediately on coming to power. That had to wait for the Party to do so in the 1960s.

De Valera’s policies in the 1930s created the basic industrialisation and housing structure of the state when the rest of the word was in the Great Depression. Our economy boomed.

John Maynard Keynes came to Dublin to support de Valera’s economic policies( 19 April 1933). The simple reason being that it was the most sensible economic policy of the time. The UK Itself had broken with free trade and introduced tariffs for the first time. De Valera did what the world was then doing. And he and his party changed when the world situation changed and joined the EU in 1973.
The policy post Collins was to hand everything over to the church. You give a lot of information there, I don't know what is true or nor,
 

Stasia

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Rawleen McElsausageogle

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He was the son of a New York Jew. His mother worked as a domestic and became pregnant to her boss. she later married a man called DeValera. He was an austere man and did put his life on the line in the Rising and could have been executed. Ireland at that time was extremely church ridden and he handed everything over to the church.
We cannot change it now but he did allow Lamas to have a say and Lamas was a great politician, As stated above he was good at figures but I would prefer he was good at developing Ireland and let someone else count the money.

He presided over a harsh regime against children. Corporal punishment was mandatory, children were made available to paedophiles especially clergy and women were treated cruelly. For that he stands condemned in my mind.
 

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