The Irish President: The Later Career of Eamon De Valera

By personality and perseverance over the past thirty-eight years, writes Edgar Holt, the rebel of 1923 has achieved most of his aims for Ireland, save unity.

The Irish balladmonger’s prophecy has not come true. They have never crowned de Valera King of Ireland. Even in the years between 1932 and 1959, for most of which he was chief Minister of what is now the Irish Republic, he never enjoyed the kind of majority in Dail Eireann which might have suggested any near approach to absolute authority.

The old and persisting cleavage between pro-Treaty and anti-Treaty parties in Irish politics has made it impossible for him ever to have the whole country behind him—except on particular issues during the Second World War, when there were few in Southern Ireland to oppose his resolute maintenance of neutrality.

None the less it is self-evident that he has been the greatest political figure in Southern Ireland since its twenty-six counties were given their own Government in 1922.

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