The Times' coverage of Sinn Fein, 1906-1918 : a biased perspective

Martin, Marilyn Jane (1988) The Times' coverage of Sinn Fein, 1906-1918 : a biased perspective. Masters thesis, Memorial University of Newfoundland.

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Abstract

When the Easter Rebellion erupted in Ireland in May 1916, Sinn Féin, as an active, influential political, organization was virtually nonexistent. Initial public response to the insurrection in England and Ireland, condemned both leaders and participants. However, the British authorities, in a concerted attempt to reestablish control and authenticate their authority, chose to execute sixteen ‘organizers’ of the rebellion and intern several hundred ‘Sinn Féin’ sympathizers. Their irresponsible handling of the situation, in which many innocent people were treated as criminals, was commonly viewed with disdain by many Irish men and women, and the once unpopular rising, which the government dubbed the Sinn Féin Rebellion, gradually attained an aura of respectability in Ireland. The uprising became identified with Sinn Féin, and the leaders released from English prison camps at the end of 1916 and during the course of the spring and summer 1917 made no attempt to correct the misnomer. As a result, new memberships in Sinn Féin clubs boomed and it became all too evident to the British that Sinn Féin had attracted much more than a nominal base of support. Results from by-elections in 1917 and 1918 and the general election of December 1918 eradicated doubts about the extent of Sinn Féin influence throughout Ireland. Sinn Féin had rocketed from near-oblivion to become the most important nationalist force in the country. Yet its remarkable, ascent could not be attributed to a systematic plan of action by Sinn Féin officials. -- Arthur Griffith, the main impetus behind Sinn Féin, had attempted to increase public acceptance of Sinn Féin doctrine from the organization’s official inception in 1905. The combination of several factors prohibited the fruition of his dream, and consequently, internal dissension within the party doomed it to fading support by,1910 and soporific stagnation until the Easter Rebellion. Nevertheless, Sinn Féin's very existence, as unobtrusive and harmless as it may have been, continued to be regarded as a serious, threat by Unionist newspapers such as the Irish Times and its mighty associate, The Times of London. The Times, in particular, refused to regard Sinn Féin as anything other than treasonous. A reader perusing the columns of the stalwart Times during the period of the uprising would be confronted with the impression of Sinn Féin as a well-oiled and finely-tuned machine, ready to sabotage the English government in Ireland. The presentation of this image, inaccurate as it was, influenced public perception at the time and helped to establish the Sinn Féin of conventional historical memory.

Item Type: Thesis (Masters)
URI: http://research.library.mun.ca/id/eprint/884
Item ID: 884
Additional Information: Bibliography: leaves 163-175
Department(s): Humanities and Social Sciences, Faculty of > History
Date: 1988
Date Type: Submission
Geographic Location: England--London; Ireland
Library of Congress Subject Heading: Sinn Fein; Times (London, England); Ireland--Press coverage

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