Originally Posted by Thomas_IV
If one wasn't a member of the clergy (I think he preferred the opinions of Bishops) it was all efforts taken in vain to persuade Dev of anything that didn't get the approval by the representatives of the RCC in Ireland. I always think that it certainly had been better if Dev didn't abandon his path to become a priest himself in his youth. That is because deep down in his heart and thinking, he was always a clergy man.
A lot of Dev's errors can be ascribed to his fondness for clerical thinkers but, in fairness, I don't think we can ascribe his economic vision to this. His fondness for economic independence, self-sufficiency, tariff barriers, etc would have been absolutely standard in the nationalist and anti-colonial circles in which he came to political maturity, not just in Ireland but also elsewhere. And in the 1920s it was pretty much the dominant economic thinking.
This didn't start to change until the 1930s, when the contribution it had made to worsening the Great Depression began to be recognised. And this change didn't really begin to influence government policies in other countries until the postwar settlement of the late 1940s.
Dev didn't join in this shift in intellectual opinion on economic matters but not, I think, because of clerical influence - econcomic policy generally wasn't a big deal for clerical thinkers, so long as you steered clear of communism. They were fine with free trade, globalisation, Keynesian fiscal policy, etc, if that was your thing. If Dev had been open to these influences, there would have been few clerical voices to discourage him and, when Lemass did adopt them, there was no clerical resistance (as there was on social matters at the time, e.g. the Mother and Child Scheme).
Ronan Fanning suggests that Dev's late political career was dominated by the desire to defend and vindicate the choices he made in his earlier political career. This made it very difficult for him to change his mind about anything. Having grown up with the idea that true national independence required economic autonomy, it was simply very difficult for him to let go of that idea.