Boland, Kevin

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Person

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Boland, Kevin

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Description area

Dates of existence

1917–2001

History

Kevin Boland, cabinet minister and republican, was born 15 October 1917 in Fairview, Dublin, the son of Gerald Boland, Fianna Fáil TD and cabinet minister, and his wife, Annie (née Keating), former Cumann na mBan and Gaelic League activist. After training as a civil engineer and serving as a lieutenant in the army during the Emergency (World War II) Boland worked in the Fianna Fáil party organisation. He was one of the young activists entrusted by Seán Lemass (with the task of rebuilding the party machine after the 1954 election. Boland was first elected to the Dáil for Dublin County in the 1957 general election, after standing unsuccessfully in 1951 and 1954 and serving on Dublin corporation. He was re-elected for Dublin County in 1961 and 1965 and Dublin South County in 1969. On his first day in the Dáil he became Minister for Defence. He held this post until 1961, overseeing the internment of IRA members. He then served as minister for social welfare (1961–6) and minister for local government (1966–70).On 5 May 1970 Boland resigned from the cabinet after the dismissal of Haughey and Blaney over the attempted arms importation. After the arrest of Haughey, Blaney, and others on 27–8 May, Boland publicly accused Lynch of ‘felon-setting’ (exposing northern nationalists to arrest). He resigned as party secretary and was expelled from the parliamentary party. Although he sought grassroots support against the leadership, he found the other ex-ministers unwilling to cooperate. After the acquittal of the arms trial defendants on 23 October 1970, he joined calls for Lynch's resignation but was soon isolated. He resigned from the Dáil on 4 November 1970, considering himself bound by his party pledge but refusing to endorse perjured evidence in a vote of confidence: ‘. . . there is nothing left to me but my own personal honour, such as it is – and I propose to retain that’ (Dáil debates, 3 Nov. 1970). Boland tried to organise a grassroots revolt at the Fianna Fáil ard fheis on 19–21 February 1971; it was defeated riotously, Patrick Hillery, minister for foreign affairs, proclaiming: ‘You can have Boland but you cannot have Fianna Fáil’ (Ir. Times, 22 Feb. 1971). Boland found that grassroots discontent and the principles he ascribed to Fianna Fáil shrank before the ethos of obedience to the leader and fear of ‘letting in the Blueshirts’. He left Fianna Fáil in May 1972. The following month, encouraged by his father, he founded a republican party, Aontacht Éireann, which ran thirteen candidates (including Boland in Dublin South County) in the 1973 general election; all were defeated.

In the 1970s and 1980s Boland produced several small books on Irish life and politics. These include We Won't Stand (Idly) By (1972), Up Dev! (1977), The Rise and Decline of Fianna Fáil (1982), Fine Gael: British or Irish? (1984), and Great My Shame (c.1984). Boland died 23 September 2001 after a short illness.

By Patrick Maume, Dictionary of Irish Biography (2009) DOI: https://doi.org/10.3318/dib.000768.v1

Places

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Functions, occupations and activities

19th Dáil: 1969 - 1970
Minister for Local Government (1969 - 1970)
Minister for Social Welfare (1969 - 1970)

18th Dáil: 1965 - 1969
Minister for Local Government (1966 - 1969)
Minister for Social Welfare (1965 - 1966)

17th Dáil: 1961 - 1965
Minister for Social Welfare (1961 - 1965)

16th Dáil
1957 - 1961
Minister for Defence (1957 - 1961)

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Authority record identifier

0000034

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IE DCUA

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ISSAR (CPF)

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Dates of creation, revision and deletion

2022-04-29

Language(s)

  • English

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Sources

Dictionary of Irish Biography (2009) https://doi.org/10.3318/dib.000768.v1

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