Cumann na nGaedhael

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Cumann na nGaedheal (Irish pronunciation: [ˈkʰʊmən nə ˈŋˠeːɫ]; "Society of the Gaels"), sometimes spelt Cumann na nGaedhael, was an Irish language name given to two Irish political parties, the second of which became the modern Fine Gael party. It is abbreviated CnaG.

Contents

Original Cumann na nGaedheal

The first Cumann na nGaedheal was founded on 30 August 1900, at the suggestion of Arthur Griffith, to unite advanced nationalist/separatist groups and clubs.[1] In 1907 it merged with the Dungannon Clubs and the National Council to form the original Sinn Féin.[2]

Pro-Treaty Cumann na nGaedheal

The second Cumann na nGaedheal was formed by pro-Treaty Sinn Féin TDs in Dáil Éireann in Dublin on 27 April 1923 and was largely centre right in outlook.

The leadership of the pro-treaty Sinn Féin group included Arthur Griffith, Michael Collins and W. T. Cosgrave. Cosgrave and Griffith had been part of the original dual monarchist Sinn Féin while Collins rose quickly through its ranks after 1916. Griffith and Collins died in August 1922 during the early stages of the Irish Civil War, leaving Cosgrave to lead the pro-treaty faction and the Provisional Government in the run-up to the formal establishment of the Irish Free State. Cosgrave had fought in the 1916 Rising and had been prominent in the Government of the Irish Republic; the burden of responsibility for building the new state on solid foundations was now on Cosgrave and his colleagues.

Cumann na nGaedheal came into being when the pro-treaty wing of Sinn Féin decided to formally style themselves as a distinct party. The idea for the new party arose in late December 1922 but its formal launch was delayed until April 1923 as a direct consequence of the turmoil caused by the civil war. Difficult years of state building, in the face of Republican violence, would characterise the party throughout its time in Government.

The party contested its first general election in 1923 and won 63 seats (39% of the poll). Until 1932 Cumann na nGaedheal formed the Government of the Irish Free State with Cosgrave as President of the Executive Council. The fact that its leaders and members of parliament had been in Government before the party was founded would prove a major stumbling block to party unity and loyalty.

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