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Posted on June 21st, 2021 in In-Progress, Research by Aaron Dusso

Sociology Professor Robert White is the Director of the Irish Republican Movement Collection, an online resource for persons interested in one of the oldest social movements in the world.  He is currently working with digital librarians in the University Library to place online photographs from the files of The Irish People, a weekly newspaper which served as the “Voice of Irish Republicanism in America.”  Between 1972 and 2004, the paper provided weekly reports and analysis of events in Ireland related to the struggle against British rule, including the activities of the Provisional Irish Republican Army (which the authorities considered a terrorist organization) and its political wing, Sinn Féin.

The photographs are significant for several reasons.  For example, they demonstrate the important role that Irish-Americans played in US politics in the 1990s.  Image 1, for example, shows then presidential candidate Bill Clinton shaking hands with Paul O’Dwyer, the former President of the New York City Council.  Also pictured are Raymond Flynn (Mayor of Boston, 1984-1993), Joe Crowley (congressman from NY [1999-2019] who was primaried by Alexandria Oscasio-Cortez in 2018), and Fr. Seán McManus, of the Irish National Caucus.

Image 2 shows former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani speaking at an event organized by the Ancient Order of Hibernians, in Brooklyn:

Some of the images have implications that are very interesting.  Image 3, for example, shows a group of activists out for drinks.  In the early1990s, Denis Donaldson (center-left with mustache) was the republican movement’s representative to the United States (he represented the Provisional IRA and Sinn Féin).  A part of his mission was to help persuade Irish-Americans that the republican movement would benefit if it moved away from political violence.  This was consistent with the movement participating in the Irish Peace Process — the Provisional IRA went on a lengthy ceasefire in August 1994 and then went on a permanent cease-fire in July 1997; Sinn Féin accepted the Good Friday Agreement in 1998.  In 2005, it was revealed that Denis Donaldson had for decades been a British agent.  It was in the interest of the British government that the Provisional IRA and Sinn Féin embrace the peace process.  In 2006, Donaldson was assassinated by the “Real” IRA.

The open-access Irish Republican Movement Collection has received thousands of “hits” from people in more than 35 countries.  Several scholars have drawn on the Collection to support their research.  As an example, online issues of The Irish People were used extensively by a student at the University of Limerick who completed a PhD on Irish Northern Aid, a US based organization that supported Irish republican political prisoners.  With the help of the University Library, the Collection continues to add resources for students, scholars, and persons with an interest in the Irish Republican Movement.

Robert White is a Professor in the Department of Sociology, IU School of Liberal Arts at IUPUI