Skip to main content
Select Source:

Sinn Féin

Sinn Féin (shĬn fān) [Irish,=we, ourselves], Irish nationalist movement. It had its roots in the Irish cultural revival at the end of the 19th cent. and the growing nationalist disenchantment with the constitutional Home Rule movement. The founder (1900) was Arthur Griffith, who in 1899 established the first of the patriotic journals, The United Irishman, in which he advocated complete national self-reliance. The movement was not, at first, an overtly political one, nor did it advocate violence. Its method was, rather, one of passive resistance to all things English and included an attempted revival of Irish Gaelic.

In 1905, Sinn Féin was organized politically, but until the outbreak of World War I it gained little strength. The British suppression of the Easter Rebellion of 1916 greatly stimulated its growth. In 1917 many of its leaders, released from internment, met to reorganize under the leadership of Eamon De Valera. In the election of 1918, Sinn Féin put up a candidate for every Irish seat in the British Parliament and won 73 seats. To protest British rule over Ireland, the elected members declined to go to Westminster. Instead, they set up an Irish assembly in Dublin, called the Dáil Éireann, which declared Irish independence. The British attempted to suppress terrorists, led by Michael Collins, by a policy of counterterror and sent (1920) a body of military irregulars, popularly known as the Black and Tans, to reestablish order. The populace rallied to Sinn Féin.

In 1921 the British government yielded and began negotiations to establish the Irish Free State. The partition provisions of the resulting treaty did not, however, satisfy the militant wing of Sinn Féin, represented by De Valera, and civil war ensued. Gradually most of the country became reconciled to the new government, and Sinn Féin virtually came to an end when De Valera withdrew from it in 1927 and entered the Dáil.

In 1938 the few remaining intransigents merged with the Irish Republican Army (IRA), becoming the terrorist organization's political arm in advocating unification of Ireland by force. In 1969, along with the IRA, it split into official and provisional wings. The Marxist-oriented official Sinn Féin eventually became the Workers' Party, while the provisional wing continued to support the provisional IRA's use of terrorist activities to achieve unification. Gerry Adams has headed the latter party since 1983. In 1986, Sinn Féin ended its boycott of Ireland's parliament, with members taking seats for the first time since the parliament was established in 1922.

In late 1994, after the IRA and Protestant militias agreed to a cease-fire, efforts were begun to negotiate a settlement of the Northern Ireland issue. However, the peace process was put in jeopardy by renewed violence on the part of the IRA in 1996. Because of this, negotiations begun in June, 1996, did not include Sinn Féin. Following a renewed cease-fire in July, 1997, the group participated in peace talks begun in September of that year.

In 1998, agreement was reached concerning political restructuring in the province that would allow Protestants and Catholics to govern jointly in a democratically elected assembly. Members of Sinn Féin were elected to the assembly and participated in the province's government, but moderate Protestant leaders insisted on IRA disarmament (finally begun in Oct., 2001) as a condition for Sinn Féin's long-term participation in a broad-based government.

In 2002 the arrest of party members on charges of spying for the IRA led Protestants to call for Sinn Féin's ouster from the government, and home rule was suspended. Elections in Nov., 2003, which made Sinn Féin the largest Irish nationalist party in the assembly, did not lead to the reestablishment of home rule. In 2005 senior party members were accused of sanctioning alleged IRA robberies. Later in 2005, charges stemming from the 2002 case were dropped, and one of the accused spies admitted to being a long-time government informant, prompting charges that the spying case was a politically motivated attempt to aid moderate Protestant Unionists. Sinn Féin remained the largest Catholic party after the Mar., 2007, elections, and later that month the Democratic Unionists, the more militant Protestant party, agreed to enter into a power-sharing government with Sinn Féin.

See R. Davis, Arthur Griffith and Non-violent Sinn (1974); M. Dillon, The Dirty War (1990); P. Taylor, Behind the Mask (1998).

Cite this article
Pick a style below, and copy the text for your bibliography.

  • MLA
  • Chicago
  • APA

"Sinn Féin." The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed.. . Encyclopedia.com. 23 Aug. 2017 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>.

"Sinn Féin." The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed.. . Encyclopedia.com. (August 23, 2017). http://www.encyclopedia.com/reference/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/sinn-fein

"Sinn Féin." The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed.. . Retrieved August 23, 2017 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/reference/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/sinn-fein

Sinn Fein

Sinn Fein. The Gaelic for ‘we ourselves’. Formed as a series of clubs in Ireland and led by the journalist Arthur Griffith at the beginning of the 20th cent., until 1916 Sinn Fein was more important for ideas than organization. It stressed the need for self-sufficiency in economic and cultural affairs, advocated passive resistance and the de facto establishment of an Irish government as the means of achieving nationalist ends, less appropriately suggesting a dual monarchy along Austro-Hungarian lines for resolving the Ulster question. The British authorities inaccurately referred to the Sinn Fein rising 1916. From 1917 it was used as an umbrella title for the advanced nationalist party, which supplanted the parliamentary party. Following its triumph in the 1918 general election, Sinn Fein formed the Dáil government, but in the Anglo-Irish War it took a back seat in the military campaign and became the political arm of the Irish Republican Army. Splitting over the Anglo-Irish treaty, under de Valera it supported the republican fight in the civil war 1922–3. In 1926 Sinn Fein divided again over the issue of recognition of the Free State Dáil: the minority adhered to an abstentionist policy and retained the Sinn Fein title, the majority formed the Fianna Fail Party. In the following decades, it lost popular support, though remaining significant as the political wing of the IRA on both sides of the border. It abandoned its traditional abstentionist policy over the hunger strikes in 1981 and became increasingly popular among the catholic working class in Northern Ireland, challenging the electoral dominance of SDLP, under the leadership of Gerry Adams in Belfast and Martin McGuinness in Derry. From 1998 until 2002 Sinn Fein took part in the power-sharing administration resulting from the ‘Good Friday’ agreement. In 2005, Sinn Fein took five seats at Westminster, gaining Newry and Armagh from the SDLP. In 2007 it joined the Democratic Unionist Party in a power-sharing executive.

Michael Hopkinson

Cite this article
Pick a style below, and copy the text for your bibliography.

  • MLA
  • Chicago
  • APA

"Sinn Fein." The Oxford Companion to British History. . Encyclopedia.com. 23 Aug. 2017 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>.

"Sinn Fein." The Oxford Companion to British History. . Encyclopedia.com. (August 23, 2017). http://www.encyclopedia.com/history/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/sinn-fein

"Sinn Fein." The Oxford Companion to British History. . Retrieved August 23, 2017 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/history/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/sinn-fein

Sinn Féin

Sinn Féin (Gaelic, ‘Ourselves Alone’) Irish republican, nationalist party founded in 1905 by Arthur Griffith. It seeks to bring about a united Ireland. Sinn Féin became a mass party after the Easter Rising (1916). It won 75% of the vote in the last all-Ireland election (1918), and formed an Irish assembly (the Dáil Éireann) led by Éamon De Valera. A two-year war of independence was fought between Britain and the Irish Republican Army (IRA), led by Michael Collins. The Anglo-Irish Treaty (1921) partitioned Ireland into the Irish Free State and Northern Ireland. Sinn Féin was split and the country plunged into civil war. The pro-treaty wing (Fine Gael), led by William Cosgrave, formed a government. De Valera, leader of the anti-treaty wing, withdrew from Sinn Féin and formed Fianna Fáil (1926). In 1938, the remaining republican intransigents joined the outlawed IRA. In 1969, two groups emerged that mirrored the factions of the Provisional and Official IRA. ‘Official’ Sinn Féin became the Workers Party. The Provisionals refused to recognize the authority of Dublin or Westminster. The President of Sinn Féin, Gerry Adams, was elected to Westminster four times (1983, 1987, 1997, 2001).

Cite this article
Pick a style below, and copy the text for your bibliography.

  • MLA
  • Chicago
  • APA

"Sinn Féin." World Encyclopedia. . Encyclopedia.com. 23 Aug. 2017 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>.

"Sinn Féin." World Encyclopedia. . Encyclopedia.com. (August 23, 2017). http://www.encyclopedia.com/environment/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/sinn-fein

"Sinn Féin." World Encyclopedia. . Retrieved August 23, 2017 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/environment/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/sinn-fein

Sinn Fein

Sinn Fein / ˈshin ˈfān/ a political movement and party seeking a united republican Ireland. DERIVATIVES: Sinn Fein·er n.

Cite this article
Pick a style below, and copy the text for your bibliography.

  • MLA
  • Chicago
  • APA

"Sinn Fein." The Oxford Pocket Dictionary of Current English. . Encyclopedia.com. 23 Aug. 2017 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>.

"Sinn Fein." The Oxford Pocket Dictionary of Current English. . Encyclopedia.com. (August 23, 2017). http://www.encyclopedia.com/humanities/dictionaries-thesauruses-pictures-and-press-releases/sinn-fein-0

"Sinn Fein." The Oxford Pocket Dictionary of Current English. . Retrieved August 23, 2017 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/humanities/dictionaries-thesauruses-pictures-and-press-releases/sinn-fein-0

Sinn Fein

Sinn Fein Irish movement formed in 1905 by Arthur Griffith. — Ir., ‘we ourselves’.

Cite this article
Pick a style below, and copy the text for your bibliography.

  • MLA
  • Chicago
  • APA

"Sinn Fein." The Concise Oxford Dictionary of English Etymology. . Encyclopedia.com. 23 Aug. 2017 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>.

"Sinn Fein." The Concise Oxford Dictionary of English Etymology. . Encyclopedia.com. (August 23, 2017). http://www.encyclopedia.com/humanities/dictionaries-thesauruses-pictures-and-press-releases/sinn-fein-1

"Sinn Fein." The Concise Oxford Dictionary of English Etymology. . Retrieved August 23, 2017 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/humanities/dictionaries-thesauruses-pictures-and-press-releases/sinn-fein-1

Sinn Fein

Sinn Feinabstain, appertain, arcane, arraign, ascertain, attain, Bahrain, bane, blain, brain, Braine, Cain, Caine, campaign, cane, chain, champagne, champaign, Champlain, Charmaine, chicane, chow mein, cocaine, Coleraine, Coltrane, complain, constrain, contain, crane, Dane, deign, demesne, demi-mondaine, detain, disdain, domain, domaine, drain, Duane, Dwane, Elaine, entertain, entrain, explain, fain, fane, feign, gain, Germaine, germane, grain, humane, Hussein, inane, Jain, Jane, Jermaine, Kane, La Fontaine, lain, lane, legerdemain, Lorraine, main, Maine, maintain, mane, mise en scène, Montaigne, moraine, mundane, obtain, ordain, pain, Paine, pane, pertain, plain, plane, Port-of-Spain, profane, rain, Raine, refrain, reign, rein, retain, romaine, sane, Seine, Shane, Sinn Fein, skein, slain, Spain, Spillane, sprain, stain, strain, sustain, swain, terrain, thane, train, twain, Ujjain, Ukraine, underlain, urbane, vain, vane, vein, Verlaine, vicereine, wain, wane, Wayne •watch chain • mondaine • Haldane •ultramundane • Cellophane •novocaine • sugar cane • marocain

Cite this article
Pick a style below, and copy the text for your bibliography.

  • MLA
  • Chicago
  • APA

"Sinn Fein." Oxford Dictionary of Rhymes. . Encyclopedia.com. 23 Aug. 2017 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>.

"Sinn Fein." Oxford Dictionary of Rhymes. . Encyclopedia.com. (August 23, 2017). http://www.encyclopedia.com/humanities/dictionaries-thesauruses-pictures-and-press-releases/sinn-fein

"Sinn Fein." Oxford Dictionary of Rhymes. . Retrieved August 23, 2017 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/humanities/dictionaries-thesauruses-pictures-and-press-releases/sinn-fein