International solidarity movements and the left in Ireland, 1964–1994

  • Padraig L. F. Durnin

Student thesis: Doctoral ThesisDoctor of Philosophy


This thesis sets out to explore some of the organisational manifestations of international solidarity in Ireland in the second half of the twentieth century. While recognising that solidarity movements in Western Europe (and indeed, both beyond the Atlantic and Iron Curtain) during this period were interconnected across borders and shared many commonalities, this study will argue that the approach of international solidarity movements in Ireland was principally shaped and informed by their domestic political context.

This thesis is comprised of four thematically-arranged chapters. The second, third, and fourth chapters comprise of three case studies, covering the Anti-Apartheid, Chilean, and Central America solidarity movements. Preceding these comes a chapter which examines engagement with the Third World by political forces to the left of Ireland’s dual-hegemonic governing parties, Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael. Through looking at how organisations as diverse as the Labour Party, the Communist Party of Ireland, and Provisional and Official Sinn Féin interacted with the Third World, it acts to introduce the distinct political context within which international solidarity movements functioned.

The second chapter, focusing on the Irish Anti-Apartheid Movement, examines early anti-apartheid activism in Ireland prior to the Movement’s formation in 1964, then addresses key areas of anti-apartheid activity in Ireland over the 30 years of the Irish A.A.M.’s existence, including its opposition to the Springbok rugby tours, the 1984-87 Dunnes Stores strike against the sale of South African fresh produce, and relationship of the Irish A.A.M to Irish nationalism and republicanism.

The following chapter addresses Chile solidarity activism in Ireland following the overthrow of the Allende Government in 1973, as well as the settlement of a small community of politically-active Chilean refugees in Ireland from February 1974 onwards.

The final chapter looks at the Central America solidarity movement in 1980s. It opens by examining the trans-Atlantic transmission of the radical ideas of Liberation Theology into Ireland through its large Catholic missionary diaspora, arguing that their influence on Irish public sentiment helped create a political environment more conducive to solidarity activism.

Thesis is embargoed until 31 July 2029.

Date of AwardJul 2024
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • Queen's University Belfast
SupervisorKieran Connell (Supervisor) & Paul Corthorn (Supervisor)


  • international solidarity
  • activism
  • Irish history
  • transnational history
  • South Africa
  • apartheid
  • Chile
  • Nicaragua
  • Cold War
  • human rights
  • 20th century history

Cite this