The Greenshirts : fascism in the Irish Free State 1935-1945
General O'Duffy's National Corporate Party/Greenshirt movement was Ireland's largest fascist movement. This thesis explores the origins of Irish fascism, arguing that it was not simply an imitation of continental models, but that it had its roots in the Irish historical and political tradition. Previously dismissed by historians as ephemeral or even non-existent, research reveals that it was a nationally organized party that presented a raft of policies aimed at creating a mass base. The Greenshirts were a small movement and constituted a concentration of fascist tendencies developed by an element in its much larger forerunner, the Blueshirts. The party was to be short-lived but influenced a number of fifth-column and extremist organizations during the war years, as well as the more successful post-war nationalist party, Ailtiri na hAiseirighe. The NCP blended a number of key ideas borrowed from continental fascism, including corporatism and the leadership principle, with a combination of fascist and indigenous pseudo-military style and organization. This was embedded in a political and cultural mould that was a development of romantic ideas that had been widely promoted during the struggle for Irish independence, with a particular focus on nationalism, violence and anti-rationalism. The Greenshirt movement was completely dependent on its leader General O'Duffy, an experienced and able politician, who promoted his movement both at home and abroad at a number of international fascist conferences. He looked to participation alongside Franco in the Spanish Civil War to raise his domestic and international profile. However, the poor record of his Irish Brigade and his absence from Ireland's political scene, led to the rapid demise of a movement which had been in decline since its inception, and which had failed to gain widespread support amongst the population or interest in the national press.