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Paper Given: Three fronts in a memory struggle: examining Irish Republican narration of legitimacy in a transitional setting
Abstract: The paper examines how memory work has attempted to legitimise the mainstream Republican project on three fronts using a variety of different narrative templates. Commemoration has served to underwrite the internal legitimacy of the Irish Republican project as old ideological positions were evacuated in favour of new policies and political language. Mainstream Irish Republicanism has also come under fire from external political opponents who argue that its past adherence to political violence continue to put a question mark over present day democratic ‘fitness’; Republican commemorative narratives attempt to repulse this in a variety of ways. Furthermore, in a hybrid external/internal arena ‘dissident’ Republican groups, outraged as what they see as a betrayal of ideology and history, challenge the legitimacy of Sinn Féin as heir to the Republican struggle per se. On this front, mainstream Republican memory work seeks not only to legitimise its own political evolution, but to delegitimise the credentials of radical competitors.
The research on which the paper draws is based on extensive observation of Republican commemorative activity, studies of their memorial material culture, including museums, and examination of their commemorative publications.