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The end of the British empire - Ireland
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Leaflet published by the Irish Republican movement, Sinn Fein, in 1917
(Catalogue ref: CO 904/161)
  • This leaflet was produced by the Republican movement, Sinn Fein, in 1917. Sinn Fein is Irish, and means 'We Ourselves'. It was founded by Arthur Griffith. By 1917 the President of Sinn Fein was Eamon de Valera.
  • During the Great War and after the Easter Rising, people in Ireland became increasingly disillusioned with John Redmond's Irish Parliamentary Party. The Nationalist majority who wanted Home Rule for Ireland were attracted to Sinn Fein.
  • Sinn Fein were extremely effective in spreading their ideas. Unlike Redmond's party, Sinn Fein did not reject armed resistance to British rule if necessary.
  • Another way in which Sinn Fein were different from the Parliamentary Nationalists was that they wanted full independence, not Home Rule. They wanted Ireland to leave the United Kingdom and British empire altogether and become a completely independent republic, like the USA.
  • Most historians agree that Sinn Fein were helped by British policies. The British actions after the Easter Rising created support for Sinn Fein. Also, in 1918 the British government considered the possibility of conscripting Irish men into the British army to fight the Germans. Sinn Fein led the resistance to this.
  • When the Great War ended in late 1918 there was a General Election. De Valera’s Sinn Fein virtually wiped out Redmond’s IPP by 73 seats to 6.
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