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Plunkett’s Agenda: Count Plunkett against Friend and Foe, Feb-April 1917 (Part III)

Posted August 7th, 2017 at 01:29 PM by Ascendant

Plunkett’s Agenda: Count Plunkett against Friend and Foe, February-April 1917 (Part III)

The election victory of Count Plunkett, father of Joseph Plunkett, in North Roscommon, February 1917, was soon followed by the frosting of relations between him and Arthur Griffith. The immediate point of contention was Plunkett's public refusal to take his seat at Westminster. Although absentionism had long been a policy of Sinn Féin, Griffith was concerned that this was a step too far and too soon for the Irish electorate.

As the mutual dislike between the two leaders festered into a feud, other members of the burgeoning nationalist movement weighed up their preferences. Plunkett found support in hardliners such as Michael Collins and Rory O'Connor, who saw Griffith as insufficiently committed to their republican ideals.

On the other hand, there were fears that Plunkett was starting to throw his weight around: "[he] no longer supplicated; he commanded; and it seemed to all that he had made up his mind that he was going to rule whatever organisation was to take shape from his triumph."

As if the internal disputes were not enough, there was an attempt to link Plunkett with - God forbid - socialism. This was almost certainly the work of the Irish Parliamentary Party, who recognised a dangerous rival in the Count.

But Plunkett had his defenders, one of whom argued that: "To refer to him in connection with ‘socialism’ is unjust, because its principles, as usually understood, could not possibly be sanctioned by any true Catholic or patriot."
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