Published November 2013. Includes coverage of unmarried mothers, the contraception debate of the 1970s and the abortion debate of the 1980s.
Fine Gael’s demise has been periodically predicted since 1933. Yet it has survived, becoming the largest party in the state after the 2011 general election. Drawing on interviews with key players and previously unused archival sources, this book offers a fascinating account of a critical period in Fine Gael’s history when the party was challenged to define its place in Irish politics. The central role played by Declan Costello is disclosed for the first time. Although he was never party leader, his Just Society proposals transformed Fine Gael by encouraging a new generation of socially-minded politicians, while his agenda for change paved the way for Garret FitzGerald. Exploring the continuities and discontinuities between Costello’s Just Society and FitzGerald’s Constitutional Crusade, the book documents how the internal debate shaped the party and provides an insight into the origins of an identity crisis with which Fine Gael continues to struggle.
The book also offers a commentary on Irish society, and explores the difficulties faced by an older generation as it sought to locate itself in a changing Ireland. The debates surrounding contraception, abortion and divorce are examined for what they reveal about the clash between the post-revolutionary and older generations and between liberals and conservatives in society.