‘Jobbing with Tory and Liberal': Irish Nationalists and the Politics of Patronage 1880–1914

James McConnel*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

8 Citations (Scopus)


Neil Collins and Mary O’Shea have recently described the practice (apparently common until the early 1970s) of parliamentary representatives in the Republic of Ireland using their political influence to secure low-level public sector jobs for constituents in return for their votes as an ‘interesting boundary case’ of political corruption.1However, while they acknowledge that canvassing for jobs in return for ‘electoral advantage’ might be regarded as corrupt in some political cultures, they persuasively argue not only that this activity was routine, non-allocative and unremunerated, but that in the Irish context it should be seen very much as part of the brokerage culture which formerly defined relations between TDs (Teachta Dála = Dáil deputy) and their constituents. This conclusion builds on the work of political scientists who have sought to account for this feature of politics in twentieth-century Ireland with reference to the localism and paternalism of Irish politics, the centralized, opaque and bureaucratic nature of Irish government, the electoral insecurity of TDs produced by the single transferable vote system of proportional representation, and the absence of socially based partisan cleavages.2However, it is argued in this article not only that patronage was a feature of Irish parliamentary representation long before 1922, but also that the question of whether it constituted political corruption was important both to Victorian and Edwardian Nationalist politics and to the formation of the Irish Free State.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)105-131
Number of pages27
JournalPast and Present
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Aug 2005
Externally publishedYes

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